The History of Booze

Hollywood and Hanky Panky

Back in Time 

for Drinks 1930s

The 1930s are predominantly remembered for the Great Depression It all began in 1929 with the Wall Street Crash...

As Americans began to twitch about their own economy, they called in their loans to other countries; at the same time putting up customs barriers - thus triggering the Great Depression. In the UK unemployment reached 22.8% in 1933, but it did begin to fall from that point and by 1938 it was approximately 10%. There were huge employment differentials across the country; some parts thrived and others struggled. For example, in the South and Midlands, car and aircraft industry was booming. The national employment situation was ultimately solved by the dawn of World War II as war drove the industry machines day and night. One important change to note across the pond was that Prohibition ended in 1933. It wasn’t all doom and gloom because if you had a job then your living standards were rising significantly through the 30s. The numbers of those living on the breadline steadily declined throughout the decade, but poverty was still very real for some.


Johnson, A. and Cooper, C. (2010) Popular Culture Goes Back to The Thirties, The Independent, - accessed 05-03-2019

Lambert, T. (no date given) ‘Everyday Life in Britain in the 1930s’, Society in 1930s Britain, - accessed 04-03-2019

Roderique Jones, A. (2013) Cocktails By the Decade: A Drink for Every Era,, - accessed 06-03-2019

Silverman H. (2017) How to Host a 1930s Dinner Party Like the Courtaulds, English, - accessed 05-03-2019

Seren, (2017) Golden Age of Cocktails - Drink it Like It’s The 1930s,, - accessed 05-03-2019     Header photo by Gabe Rodriguez on Unsplash

Bottles & Cans


Art and design had begun to change in the 20s, but the 30s saw the Art Deco movement flourish. The flowing lines and nature references of the Art Nouveau were replaced by sharp lines and geometric designs. The boyish flapper dresses gave way to more conservative designs for the majority of women, but there were plenty of floral designs, shoulder pads and fur was very popular. Meanwhile, the men were strutting their stuff in double breasted suits and fedoras. Everyday fashion was influenced by the silver screen; Constance Bennett, Jean Harlow and of course, Mae West. Entertainment of the day was very much that of escapism - given how grim it was for many people, it is hardly any wonder!

The best selling book of the 1930s was Gone with The Wind, The Green Hornet was a popular radio show and The Wizard of Oz was, and still is, a captivating movie. By 1933 almost a half of British homes owned a radio and the BBC began TV broadcasts in 1936. During this period most people went to the pictures at least once a week. Transport was also changing, as the speed limit of 20 MPH introduced in 1903 was lifted. In 1934 the driving test was introduced and the cat’s eye was invented by Percy Shaw.


Now you’ve got the flavour of the decade, you might like to take it for a spin; just for the night!


Here’s how to host a glamorous 1930s Dinner Party

Unlike the pantsdrunk approach to dressing for an event, this kind of affair requires going all out. Being under dressed for this party is a no-no. 

Clearly the night needs to start with a few cocktails, darling! Invite your guests for 6pm - keep them numbers small; these are intimate affairs. Ideally your guests should be a mixed bunch to keep the conversation flowing. Greet your guests with a pre-dinner delight. If you want to go all out, then serve your drinks from a cocktail cabinet or trolley. Check out our recipe suggestions. 

Have a few swanky canapés ready to whip out of the fridge before settling down to eat. 

In the 1930s, it was fashionable at this kind of soiree to serve food from around the world, with plenty of wine flowing.

After dinner was just as important, so you could have a game of charades or try out the B&C quiz. 

Finally, make sure if you have guests staying that you have got the spare room ready or kindly call them a cab to get them safely home.


The French 75

This is a classic cocktail, even published in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. The Hotel was not the creator of the drink, but it is certainly credited with increasing its popularity.


How to make 

a French 75

Makes up four champagne flutes

180ml gin  (by choosing different varieties and flavours of gin, you can personalise this cocktail)

60ml fresh lemon juice

30ml simple sugar syrup


Pour gin, lemon juice and syrup into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into champagne flutes- top up with champagne. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

The Hanky Panky

Another gin based cocktail, the Hanky Panky was a bit hit in the 1930. This cocktail has a very saucy back story, created by the cocktail master, Ada Coleman, who was a bar-tender at the Savoy Hotel. The Hanky Panky was her greatest creation, although it did not really hit mainstream popularity until the 30s. She claimed to have made the drink for thirsty actor, Sir Charles Hawtrey, who is said to have gasped after his first sip, “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!”


How to make a Hanky Panky

50ml gin

50ml sweet vermouth

5ml (or a couple of dashes) Fernet Branca

10ml freshly squeezed orange juice


Place all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass and serve with a twist of orange peel.