Summertime Speakeasy

The screwdriver reinvented

During Prohibition, unregulated production and cheap ingredients resulted in poor quality and bad tasting (and sometimes dangerous) alcohol. Bartenders would mix the liquor with fruit juices and other flavors to mask the unpleasant taste—and cocktails were invented.

A cocktail that became wildly popular would oftentimes take on the name of the speakeasy where it was invented. One myth is that the screwdriver was invented at a hardware store that was secretly a speakeasy. Another thought is that the popular cocktail was the same color of a well-known brand of screwdriver (the tool). The cocktail has appeared in literature as early as 1938, so whatever the origin, it is a simple cocktail that has enjoyed lasting popularity.

A screwdriver is simply orange juice and vodka. And let me tell you, orange juice does well to cover up the taste of cheap, low-quality vodka. My first taste of hard liquor was that very kind of cheap vodka. I was…well, let’s just say I was too young to be drinking legally (and Maine Women Magazine definitely doesn’t condone underage drinking) and I was hanging out with friends at my pal Kyle’s house on a beautiful summer day. We decided to try his father’s gallon-sized jug of cheap vodka (the only vodka available at the town’s single store). I don’t remember the brand, but it was Polish, and so it should be good, yes? It was awful. We mixed it with what we had around: orange juice. That was my first cocktail. Thankfully, my taste has gotten slightly more sophisticated since, and so has the screwdriver.

THE RECIPE

2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ounces Prairie cucumber vodka
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur

Add vodka and St-Germain liqueur to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top off with freshly squeezed orange juice.

Jessie resides at the heart of downtown Portland with her border collie puppy Josie, making cocktails and trouble.

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