Cocktail Recipe: 1919 Cocktail

I’ve seen many a cocktail menu in my time — I’ve sipped everything from a simple old fashioned to a complicated tiki drink like a Three Dots and a Dash. But something I’d never heard of before is a 1919 cocktail, which is something that not only tickles my mixology interest but also my interest in strange history.


The year was 1919. The First World War had ended only a few months previously, and on January 15th, 1919, a massive storage tank full of molasses originally destined to be turned into alcohol for ammunition production ruptured in Boston, Massachusetts. The 2.3 million gallons of sticky black molasses rushed through the city streets at 35 miles an hour, sadly killing 21 people and injuring 150 others.

The Great Molasses Flood was an event that might not have an especially high impact on the city of Boston compared to other calamities of that year (such as selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in December of that same year), but it’s an event that sticks in people’s minds much like the inky black substance itself. As a result, in recent years local Massachusetts mixologist Ben Sandrof decided to create this boozy and dark cocktail in honor of that strange event.

The cocktail is a twist on the New Orleans classic vieux carre, a cocktail that mixes rye, cognac, vermouth, and Benedictine together to create a rich and delicious drink. In this version, the cognac is swapped out for the equally sweet and delicious rum — an homage to the molasses disaster, as rum often uses molasses as its source for the sugar in the spirit.

Also interesting is the use of the Punt e Mes vermouth. It’s a dark, bitter component that has significantly more of a bite to it than the usual sweet vermouth you might expect.

In the end, what you’re left with is a cocktail that tastes remarkably like a shaken glass of molasses — but better. It has all of the spice and all of that flavorful richness, but without also tasting like you’re drinking a rusty nail. Each component can be clearly identified, and the combination somehow tastes like a cocktail version of a Guinness.



  • 3/4 oz. Rye
  • 3/4 oz. Rum
  • 1 oz. Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
  • 1 dash Chocolate Bitters

Add everything to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Pour into a rocks glass with one giant ice cube and serve.

Full disclosure — I might be a fan, but my wife said it tasted like cough syrup, so the consensus in our household was decidedly mixed. Do you get the same notes? Does this scratch your rich and chocolatey cocktail itch? Let us know!


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