The 1920s was a very bubbly period for sure. A revolution in music, art, hairstyles and drinks mixology. After the Great War, young people wanted to have fun. They wanted a change. And when amusement wasn’t found nearby, they went to a place where it was, where liquor and bubbles reigned
Over the past decade, ingenuity and sophistication in the sphere of spirits and bubbles have reached new heights. Professional mixologists and bartenders whip up drinks with new names and combinations that continue to excite our seemingly insatiable thirst. In this whirlwind of new influences, tastes, ingredients and products, beverage brands have had to get creative to stay relevant in the eyes of the quality-demanding drink lovers. It is with these conditions in mind that the traditional beverage brand Schweppes has thought outside the box, seeking to mirror the brand’s creative, revolutionary heydays in the 1920s, a time when its name was the one on everyone’s lips and the challenges of Prohibition in the US prompted people to use the company’s tonic water in new and unique ways. The path from this glamorous and challenging period to Schweppes’s new premium drinks mixers, which will hit the market shortly, has been anything but straight, though. It all started with a veritable catastrophe: the First World War.
The 1920s in America was a challenging period, but also a time of great opportunity. Gangsters were ruling the streets and a new postwar moralism was closing down the bars and liquor stores. Yet jazz music flourished, art deco peaked and women were finally becoming a force to be reckoned with in society. The highest contracts in Hollywood were being signed by women. Some, such as Clara Bow, became synonymous with the new outspoken attitudes towards sex and culture in general. And were often surrounded by vicious rumours of promiscuity. And cocktails.
Ironically, Prohibition, when liquor was banned for more than a decade, was the trigger that really shaped the underworld of gangsters. It was when speak-easies proliferated, sparking ingenuity in cocktail-making and the use of exotic ingredients. A bartender needed to find interesting enough flavours, even though the moonshine (as homemade spirit was called then) that was served was often of a less-than-acceptable standard. Still, classic drinks were in great demand. Gin and tonic, for example, moved from being an eccentric British tipple enjoyed in India and the Far East to become the aperitif of the day. And the code words “Ask for Schweppes were the cue shady barmen were waiting for before they grabbed that illicit bottle of liquor from under the bar. In the Schweppes posters of the era, we see sophisticated women smoking cigarettes and asking for Schweppes”.
However, if you were an American who really wanted to have fun, you had to go to Europe, where the US dollar was worth a minor fortune. Newspaper men such as Ernest Hemingway and Albert Hirschfeld only needed to write an article or sell a drawing a month to live a life of restaurants and cafes most of us could only dream of frequenting now. At night they still had enough money left over to visit a cabaret and experience the bare-breasted star of the time, Josephine Baker. And if by some strange mystery you happened to run out of money and had some artistic talent, you could always visit Gertrude Stein, the patron of American artists in Paris, who also named the young generation who had survived the First World War – the Lost Generation.
It was here, on the Continent, that American culture truly blossomed. Bars such as Harry’s in Paris presented cocktails and long drinks that had never been seen before. The Scottish bartender Harry MacElhone, who later took over the establishment, whipped up such classics as the French 75, sidecar, old pal, scofflaw, boulevardier and monkey gland. Some even claim he was the man behind the bloody mary. He went on to write two books filled with recipes he invented or perfected at the bar; they have become classics of Prohibition-era mixology. Today, Harry’s is more of a businessman’s bar, but it’s still worth a visit.
In Berlin, the nightlife was said to be even more hedonistic, and the costs were even less. After the war, horrendous inflation took the Germans to breaking point, which was terrific for anyone else who wanted to live like a king or a queen. This Berlin was known for its decadence and anarchic and bohemian atmosphere, and was famously immortalised in Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye to Berlin.
This golden era of nightlife, the arts and drinks is being celebrated all over the world now. The style of the 1920s is also the main inspiration for the Stockholm temple to art deco style, the Haymarket hotel, situated across from the Concert Hall. It was previously a warehouse where Great Garbo used to work, before leaving for Hollywood and becoming a symbol of the time. This excellent hotel has made it its mission to celebrate the culture of the era, from music and interior design to mixology – it’s a place that truly knows how to tempt you with the treats of the 1920s. And Schweppes knows those tastes and the value involved, from the spirits to the finest mixer around.
Tribute to the 1920s
With Schweppes Premium Mixers, Haymarket and The Glass Factory, we have created two original drinks and are celebrating a classic as a tribute to the pioneer days of mixology. Three glasses have also been specially made to complement these creations, their design echoing the art deco style of the period. And each drink is presented in a short film that can be found on YouTube. A great drink demands long-lasting bubbles, something Schweppes has provided since 1783.
Gin and Tonic – Twist of Lime
Tonic Water – Twist of Lime, gin, a squeeze of lemon.
Hibiscus Tonic Water, gin, pistachio syrup, lime, grape shrub, lime leaf.
Shimmy Pink Pepper
Pink Pepper Tonic Water, Lillet, gin, lemon juice, elderflower syrup, elderflower foam.
#Feature Image FUN TIMES IN THE 1920S
#1 and #7 SCHWEPPES POSTERS
#2 and #3 A TWIST OF LIME AND HIBISCUS, TWO OF THE NEW FLAVOURS FROM SCHWEPPES;
#4 HAYMARKET’S BAR MANAGER CHRISTIAN GREVIUS CREATES A SAN HIBISCO; #5 BARLIFE IN THE 1920S.
#6 GREVIUS’S SHIMMY PINK PEPPER AND SCHWEPPES’S DEPICTION OF ITS KEY INGREDIENT.