The History of Booze

Peace & Love and Swingers

Peace & Love and Swingers

Back in Time 

for Drinks 1960s

The 1960s were transformational in so many ways; in fact some would go so far as to say that the 60s can be best summarised as being a decade of counter-culture and revolution in terms of clothing, music, drugs, dress, sexuality, formalities and education.


Those who are a little more tightly buttoned up and don’t appreciate the changing order of things, decry the decade as being defined by flamboyance, excess, free love and the undoing of social order. The label ‘Swinging Sixties’ came about because social taboos, particularly in terms of sexuality, were falling left, right and centre.

Music could be said to lead to the way, with iconic bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, just to scratch the surface, and Woodstock was the pinnacle of free love and the hippy lifestyle. Folk music saw a revival, which is still in full swing today, with events like the world famous Cambridge Folk Festival. Despite what sounds like an awesome decade, the challenging of civil rights, racism and sexism, as well as war, and heightened tensions between America and Russia divided people.


Conroy, R. (2019) ‘What food was everyone eating the year you were born? Most popular dishes of the 50s 60s 70s and 80s revealed!’, Woman and Home,

Graham, C. (2019) ‘11 Classic Cocktails Found on “Mad Men”’,, - accessed 11.06.19

Wikipedia -

Bottles & Cans


Politics across the globe was also a dominant feature of the 60s. Confrontation between the US and Russia was critical and their struggles expanded into Latin America, Africa, and Asia; direct conflict turned into a battle for dominance through the control of Third World countries via the finding of arms and puppet governments. The assassination of Kennedy rocked the world and in the UK the Labour Party gained power in 1964. Another way to define the decade could be to say it was a decade of movements; anti-war, civil rights, gay rights, feminism... There were lots of things you could march about in the 60s.

As the decade began, the post-war period of re-building was largely complete and the economic good times were about to begin - big style.  WWII had virtually levelled what was left of social class as it had been for centuries. The middle classes exploded and finally people had a bit more money in their pockets. Luxuries, like cars, fridges, radios and even TVs, became affordable for the everyday family. The technology boom was not just happening on Earth, but also in space, culminating in Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in 1969.

Food and drinks also saw a revolution in the 60s; as a result of the dramatic increase in the number of immigrants coming to the UK from former British colonies, we were introduced to a whole world of new foods. Indian restaurants started to pop up and the nation began to get a taste of what are now considered national dishes, like chicken tikka masala. As travelling was becoming more affordable, eating anything that was ‘foreign’ made you appear super sophisticated and worldly. As Spain and France were popular and accessible destinations at the time, olives and cheese were all the rage.

Aimed at the growing middle class and heavily marketed through the TV and cinema, a number of drinks were pushed at a market that was aiming for sophistication, but wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off. Mateus Rosé wine, a medium sweet wine from Portugal, was considered to be the height of sophistication at dinner parties. It would be remiss, when talking about wines, to ignore the other big hitter of the decade; Blue Nun. A fun drink, aimed at the ladies, was Babycham. It was marketed as being an alternative to champagne, but was actually a much more affordable sparkling perry. Until the 60s, ales and stouts were what you were most likely to find in a British pub, enter stage left, lager in 1961. 

If you were throwing a party in the 60s, it would not have been complete without a few obligatory items; for example, the good old grapefruit wrapped in foil and bristling with cocktail sticks sporting a square of cheese with either an olive, chunk of pineapple or silverskin onion. You would have needed to rustle up a few devils on horseback (to the uninitiated this a prune stuffed with mango chutney, wrapped in bacon and baked in the oven) and, of course, a set of wine glasses prepared with prawn cocktail. The world of crisps just got more interesting, as cheese and onion were introduced by Walkers; previously you had ready salted or salt and vinegar. Today crisps get a whole aisle in the supermarket! For the fashionable party thrower, the evening would have to end with a serving of Black Forest Gâteau; that well known chocolate cake concoction of cake, cream and cherries. If you were throwing an intimate dinner party, you would need to switch up a gear - the devils on horseback wouldn’t cut it. If you really wanted to impress, then you would need to be aiming for something like one of Grace Kelly’s favourite dishes, duck à l’orange . In 1963, duck and orange was considered to be one of the most exotic flavour combinations - our palettes had a long way to go! With another French name, you could really go to town and end the evening with Crêpe Suzette. 


An Old Fashioned

A whiskey cocktail that was not created in the 60s, but hit the big time during this decade. It can be easily personalised by your choice of whiskey. The Old Fashioned consists of a sugar cube that is soaked in bitters, with a shot of whiskey, and an orange peel, to create an impressive cocktail that is easy to make and will impress your guests. 



1 sugar cube

2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters

2 ounces bourbon (or rye whiskey)

Optional extras: orange slice, splash of club soda, orange peel and/or maraschino cherry



Place the sugar cube at the bottom of a heavy tumbler/whiskey glass.

Saturate the sugar cube with bitters, add an orange slice if you like, and muddle.

Fill the glass with ice.

Add the whiskey and stir well. 

Finish it off with a splash of club soda if you prefer.

Garnish with an orange peel and cherry.


The Gimlet

This 60s favourite is considered by many to be amongst the best gin sours around. The combination of lime and a good quality gin creates a sweet, yet tart drink, that is a super sophisticated summer beverage.



2 ounces gin

3/4 ounces lime cordial

Lime wedge



Pour the ingredients into a cocktail mixer with a handful of ice cubes.

Stir, not shake, well.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lime wedge.

NB This little cocktail packs a mighty punch. If made with 80% proof gin, it comes in at around 48% proof. Whilst easy to knock back, drink with caution!