Book and Drink Pairings: Fantasies set in 1920s America

American Prohibition in the 1920s really started off the trend for mixed alcoholic drinks, as the new law made alcohol, except for medicinal purposes, illegal. Most alcohol was either smuggled in or home-brewed, so the quality was questionable. Many tried to cover up the taste of bootleg drinks with various additional ingredients. The secrecy required for people who went against the law fits well with many fantasy narratives, making the 1920s a great era to set historical fantasies.

Here is a round-up of historical fantasies set in America in the 1920s, paired with mixed drinks. (Both alcoholic and Prohibition-appropriate non-alcoholic drinks!) Please only drink alcohol if you are of age, and drink responsibly.

The Ballad of Black Tom

Charles Thomas Tester works hard to provide for himself and to take care of his father. He hustles with his guitar from Harlem to all over New York. He picks up an odd job to deliver a magical book to a sorceress in Queens. What he doesn't know is that it opened a door to a dark realm of magic.

Alcoholic drink: Harlem Cocktail

For a drink as vibrant as 1920s Harlem, try the golden Harlem cocktail.

Non-alcoholic drink: Lemon Ginger Switchel

For a drink as citrusy as the Harlem, but without the alcohol, try an old-fashioned switchel (apple vinegar punch). 

Born of Illusion

In 1920s New York City, Anna Van Housen works as an assistant for her mother, whose act involves pretending to be a medium. Anna has a secret. She actually has psychic abilities; something that she hides from her mother.

Alcoholic drink: Jack Rose Cocktail

Though the name suggests the characters from the famous Titanic movie, the drink is actually older. Try this sweet-and-sour drink perfect for Anna's romantic interests.

Non-alcoholic drink: Cotton Candy Mocktail

Having a psychic or medium at carnivals and other shows in the 1920s was quite common. Try a carnival snack classic, but in a drink form!

The Diviners

A mishap involving Evie O'Neill's magical abilities causes her to be shipped off from her hometown in Ohio to New York City to live with her uncle. Evie is not complaining, however, and is excited to experience big city life. A rash of dark magic murders throws Evie and her uncle--the curator for The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--into the middle of the mystery. 

Alcoholic drink: Last Word Cocktail

Try a mysterious, sophisticated green cocktail, which goes perfectly with this mystery within a fantasy world.

Non-alcoholic drink: Italian Cream Soda

For a drink that was just coming onto the scene at drug stores around America, try this green version of a cream soda.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 

Newt Scamander is on a journey to study magical creatures around the world. He lands in New York City in 1926, only to encounter a clash of magical cultures, a major accident involving a No-Maj (non-magical person), and the escape of many of his creatures that he carries in his magical suitcase. 

Alcoholic drink: Gigglewater

For a movie that includes a scene in a magical speakeasy, the drink the characters imbibe is a perfect pairing!

Non-alcoholic drink: Pumpkin Juice

Pumpkin juice is a standby in the Wizarding World. Since pumpkins are from the Americas, one could guess that pumpkin juice is bigger hit in the magical United States than the United Kingdom.

Iron Cast

Corinne and Ada have magical blood, which grants each one different powers of illusion. They perform using their abilities in Boston in an underground speakeasy. The cons that they pull--and their magical blood--are beginning to bring them to the attention of those with dark motives.

Alcoholic drink: Boston Cocktail

What could be a better pairing for a story set in Boston than a cocktail named for the location?

Non-alcoholic drink: Hot Spiced Cranberry Punch

Magic is connected to one's blood in this story, so warm up your circulatory system with a hot punch.

Speak Easy

The Hotel Artemisia is a place out of time. The Jazz Age inside is steeped in spells and magical creatures. Zelda thinks she can hold her own in this fairy tale world against her boss Al. But there are gangsters and sinister goings-on inside this world, and it might be more than Zelda can handle.

Alcoholic drink: Bee's Knees Cocktail

In a sparkling, magical world, a cocktail that's "the bee's knees" is a perfect fit!

Non-alcoholic drink: Dragon's Blood Punch

The Hotel Artemisia is home to many magical creatures, so a punch inspired by dragons would not be out of place.

Mix up one of these potions, and crack open one of these books. If you want your evening to truly be the cat's pajamas, turn on some vintage 1920s music to really jazz things up!