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Origins

Prohibition Era Cocktails You Should Know

Prohibition Era Cocktails You Should Know

During Prohibition, the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol was made illegal. Although liquor was against the law from 1920 to 1933, the consumption of alcohol did not disappear altogether. Instead it led to the rise of speakeasies where alcoholic beverages were secretly bootlegged and illegally sold, becoming a popular means of evading the law.

As a result, bootlegged alcohol quality may have suffered in many speakeasies; however, this point in history initiated a new age of creativity. The prohibition era has left its mark, as many speakeasy-inspired bars exist to this day. Thankfully we can now enjoy cocktails crafted with top quality liquors like AMASS Dry Gin instead of the homemade spirits of the 1920s. Here is a list of recipes from the prohibition era you should know:

The Last Word

This cocktail was invented just before the Prohibition era in 1915 by Frank Fogharty, and first served at the Detroit Athletic Club. It’s the perfect blend of gin, chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice.

INGREDIENTS
¾ oz AMASS Dry Gin
¾ oz Chartreuse
¾ oz Maraschino Liqueur
¾ oz lime juice
1 brandied cherry, for garnish

RECIPE
Combine gin, chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.

Bee’s Knees

This classic gin, lemon, and honey cocktail just got an upgrade from bathtub gin to AMASS Dry Gin. The citrus and floral notes in our gin will make you say “this is the bee’s knees.”

INGREDIENTS
2 oz AMASS Dry Gin
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz honey syrup
Lemon twist, for garnish

RECIPE
Combine gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Monkey Gland

Created by bar owner Harry MacEhlone in the 1920’s, this French prohibition era cocktail originated in Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Although this cocktail has an odd name, its mix of gin, orange, grenadine, and absinthe make it surprisingly delicious.

INGREDIENTS
1½ oz AMASS Dry Gin
1½ oz orange juice
1 tsp grenadine
1 tsp simple syrup
1 tsp absinthe

RECIPE
Combine gin, orange juice, grenadine, simple syrup and absinthe in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Scent Stories

Scent Stories

AMASS is known for our signature scents. Inspired by nature and brought to life by our Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan, each AMASS scent is meticulously crafted using a blend of natural botanicals to evoke a feeling and spark joy in your day. Explore the story behind each of our four core scents here:

FOUR THIEVES

CINNAMON · ALLSPICE · CLOVE · EUCALYPTUS

Our Four Thieves scent is inspired by a blend of botanicals once believed to prevent the spread of the plague in medieval Europe. Named after a band of thieves who used the tincture to protect themselves from disease as they robbed the dead, the Four Thieves recipe is an age-old remedy that we’ve reimagined for modern life. Cinnamon, allspice, clove, and eucalyptus create a warm, spicy aroma.

PSEUDO CITRINE

LEMON · GINGER · GRAPEFRUIT · LAVENDER

In Kyoto, reverence hangs thick in the air. Glimmering summer sun reflects onto the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, itself mirrored onto the glassy surface of the Kyōko-chi. Sheathed in gold leaf, the Temple ripples in the water under towering limonene pines. Is what we’re seeing real, or a reflection of a reflection?

Inspired by the yellow gemstone citrine, Pseudo Citrine evokes a lemon-fresh scent while offering an energizing ritual. Lemon, ginger, grapefruit, and lavender join for a light, refreshing citrus scent.

BASILISK BREATH

BASIL · PEPPERMINT · ROSEMARY · SAGE · THYME

Inspired by the Greek myth of the basilisk, a deadly serpent, our Basilisk Breath scent features sweet basil, a botanical once considered to be a protective charm against the basilisk’s fatal stare and breath. In following the long occult tradition of naming antidotes for their poison, Basilisk Breath enlivens basil’s mythological roots while delivering a bright, refreshing clean. Basil, peppermint, rosemary, sage, and thyme blend to create an invigorating herbal scent.

FOREST BATH

SPRUCE · AMBER · PETRICHOR

On the coast overlooking the Salish Sea, salt and rain entwine in the trees. In a psychosomatic forest escape, soak in the atmospheric hush through the senses. The shimmer of water hitting stone lingers on the skin, as the cool crisp of petrichor and cedar warms with the butterscotch sweetness of amber musk. Ozonic top notes spring from the shore for a boreal bath that cleanses the soul. Spruce, amber, and petrichor build a dense woodland aroma.

The History of Friday the 13th

The History of Friday the 13th

At AMASS, we’re not superstitious – you can regularly find members of our team strolling under ladders and petting stray black cats. But we do have a proclivity for indulging in all things occult, and that means when Friday the 13th rolls around, we’re on high alert. But where do superstitions around the day come from, and are we right to be weary?

In Western cultures, the number 12 is often a marker that something is whole. There are 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 days of Christmas. But continue counting and the number that follows–the unlucky number 13–is tied up in all kinds of negative associations.

That goes back to 1307, when on October, Friday the 13th King Phillip IV of France arrested the Knights Templar, a military group formed to protect the Holy Land. Hundreds of Templars were wrongfully imprisoned and later executed, all because the King wanted access to their financial resources. And the blame was pushed onto unlucky number 13, a pattern that would follow for the next millennia.

That’s because bad things did continue to happen on Friday the 13th. A lot of them, actually. There was the bombing of Buckingham Palace, a deadly cyclone in Bangladesh, the death of Tupac. And that’s just to name a few tragedies that just so happened to take place on Friday the 13th.

And so, the 13th floor was eradicated from hotel elevators, an empty space between 12 and 14 resting ominously. Having 13 guests at a table became a bad omen, and so an extra person was tacked onto the dinner party to dissolve any fears of bad luck. In our own ways, we found a way to avoid the number 13 entirely. It’s why every Friday the 13th there’s a dip in air travel, millions of dollars lost in business across industries as people hide out in their homes until the 14th rolls around.

The same isn’t true though across other cultures and countries. In Greece and several Spanish-speaking countries, for instance, it’s Tuesday the 13th, the day Constantinople fell, that incites panic. The fact that Tuesday is the third day of the week only adds fuel to the fire, as bad luck is said “to come in threes.” Meanwhile, in Italy, Friday the 17th is the day of bad luck, with many Italians considering the number 13 to actually be particularly lucky.

All that to say, the days we consider ‘unlucky’ or ‘lucky’ have little to do with cold hard facts and more to do with our own cultural and historical associations with the day. So, in the spirit of kicking superstition, cheers to staying safe and celebrating with a glass of AMASS come Saturday.

History of the Cocktail

History of the Cocktail

Before there were cocktails, there was punch.

In 18th century England, big bowls full of booze, juice, and spices were served in punch houses across the country, the Age of Enlightenment equivalent of Jungle Juice. Then a more civilized way to imbibe was devised, and the sling was born, a mix of sugar, water, and liquor served neat at room temperature.

It wasn’t until 1806 that bitters got in the mix and the cocktail was formally introduced in The Balance and Columbian Repository, where it was defined as a “stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water, and bitters.” As you can imagine, the lack of acid from lemons and limes made these pre-Prohibition potations incredibly sweet, and the lack of ice at the time made them tepid at best.

The Age of Enlightenment equivalent of Jungle Juice.

Over time though, the cocktail got better. Jerry Thomas, the writer behind The Bartender’s Guide, had a lot to do with that. His book became an encyclopedia of sorts, with recipes to classic cocktails like a mint julep to an eclectic mix of now antiquated drinks, including Balaklava Nectar, made with claret, soda water, champagne, and lemon, and the Locomotive, a whiskey cocktail with lemon and Cointreau.

Then, in 1920, Prohibition abruptly halted the growing cocktail movement. People were still drinking, sure, but the secrecy of that drinking often meant moonshine in basements, not martinis in parlors. Many talented bartenders left to work abroad, and when the 18th amendment was repealed in 1933, people were ready to drink their spirits straight, cocktails be damned.

Of course, over time, cocktail culture picked back up. The Mad Men of the ‘50s and ‘60s, with their copious Old Fashioneds and Manhattans and Martinis, made sure of it. And while there was a brief hiatus in the late ‘60s into the ‘70s, where cannabis culture took over, by the ‘90s another cocktail renaissance was underway.

Cranberry juice became popular due to its purported health benefits, and the earliest iteration of the Cosmopolitan began to pop up around gay bars in San Francisco. In 1988, the Cosmo landed in the capable hands of Toby Cecchini, owner of Long Island Bar in New York, who modernized the saccharine drink by swapping Rose’s lime and grenadine with Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and of course, cranberry juice.

Other decidedly ‘90s cocktails include the Espresso Martini, the Appletini, and the Bramble, a gin cocktail made with Giffard Crème de Mûre. These days, drinking trends have evolved in favor of classic cocktails with a subtle twist (think: a martini washed with olive oil). But despite the Cosmo no longer being the drink du jour it once was, we still love the power cocktails have to serve as a portal to the past.

Curious about the story of cocktails past? Read up on the history of happy hour, or take a deep dive into aperitivo culture.

History of Mother's Day Flowers

History of Mother's Day Flowers

A bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day is the oldest trick in the book, next to maybe breakfast in bed or a hand-drawn card. But where does the tradition stem from, and what flowers are associated with the holiday?

It all started with a woman named Anna Jarvis. Born in West Virginia in 1864, Anna would go on to found Mother’s Day in 1908, three years after her own mother’s death. It would be a few years later, in 1914, that President Woodrow Wilson would formally declare the second Sunday of May Mother’s Day (it wasn’t until 1972 that Father’s Day became a national holiday, if you’re keeping track).

What started as a way to commemorate Anna’s own mother quickly became a way to recognize mothers everywhere. In celebration of the first memorial, Anna gave the events’ attendants 500 white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower.The flower became an important symbol of the holiday, as Anna explained,

The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts.

Over time, the floral industry commodified the flower, even introducing red carnations to meet growing demand. Prices went up, and Anna’s original symbolism behind the carnation faded, instead taking on a new meaning; the red carnation was gifted to mothers, while the white carnation was used to honor mothers who had recently passed, placed on their gravestones as a tribute.

It wasn’t just the symbolism that changed; aware that Mother’s Day was quickly becoming a cash cow, greeting card and confection companies quickly hopped on board as well, creating their own product lines gearing toward celebrating moms everywhere.

Anna, fed up with the the commercialization of a day founded on altruistic grounds, boldly spoke out about the trivialization of the day, at one point saying, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

In 1923, Anna went so far as to stop the day’s festivities by disturbing white carnation sellers, though she was shortly arrested for her public order violation. Her attempts to have the holiday formally rescinded also failed. And despite her best efforts, Anna’s unwillingness to adapt to the times led to her own economic hardship; when she died in 1948, it was the floral and greeting card companies that paid for her medical bills.

Fast forward to today, when Mother’s Day is still widely celebrated, remaining one of the biggest days of sales in the floral and greeting card industries.The most common gift? Flowers, though the carnation isn’t the only popular pick; tulips, daisies, lilies are all common choices, though your mom’s favorite flowers is always the best bet in our book.

Fascinated by flora? Read up on the history of the L.A. flower district, or dive deeper into the origins of the poinsettia.

The Color Green and Its Power to Soothe

The Color Green and Its Power to Soothe

This past year, the color green has been in. From the uptick in houseplants to the cultural phenomenon that was Dakota Johnson’s Alligator Alley-colored kitchen in her now-infamous Architectural Digest tour (IYKYK), it’s clear the verdant hue has overtaken our homes. And it makes sense: in a year where we’re glued to our screens and so much is unknown, of course we want to swath ourselves in the cool, relaxing color of nature. But why, exactly, does the color green have the power to soothe us?

Color therapy, also known as chromotherapy, is a therapeutic remedy that uses color and light to treat physical and mental health and balance the body’s chakras. If that sounds woo-woo, rest assured that the principle has been backed up by research; in one small experiment, researchers at the Aalborg University of Copenhagen monitored the brain activity of subjects and exposed them to different colors of light. Their brains were notably more active when exposed to red and blue light, while green light led to an overall feeling of ease and relaxation.

This isn’t a new phenomenon; in the early 1900s, a New York psychiatric hospital had a color ward to treat patients. There was a black room to soothe manic patients, a red room for those dealing with feelings of melancholy, a violet room for treating insanity, and then a green room for the boisterous. While we now know that purple walls are no cure for insanity, the idea that the shades of our surroundings can affect our mood still holds.

The Japanese concept of forest bathing, known as shinrin-yoku, speaks to this very premise; surrounding yourself in lush green spaces reduces stress, improves focus, and can even have positive effects on your physical well-being, from boosting your immune system to lowering heart rate and blood pressure. And yes, it can even help you from being too boisterous, if that’s a particular problem you face.

Looking to self-soothe by enveloping yourself in the color green? Paint your living room a deep emerald. Outfit your space with Monsteras galore. Or perhaps the simplest way: green-ify your bar cart with a bottle of Riverine, our non-alcoholic spirit packed with verdant botanicals like rosemary, mint, and cucumber.

The Science Of Bubbles

The Science Of Bubbles

Gin and tonic, hard seltzer, champagne; here at AMASS, we love an effervescent drink. But within the world of carbonation, countless types of bubbles abound. Here’s the science behind the bubbles, explained.

Put simply, carbonation is what happens when carbon dioxide is added to liquid. This can happen manually by forcefully dissolving CO2 in water, as is often done in mass-produced sparkling waters and sodas. Or, it can occur naturally.

Certain mineral springs around the world produce naturally-carbonated water. In Soda Springs, Idaho, there are thousands of these carbonated springs, which have arisen thanks to past volcanic activity in the region. The residual geothermal activity hundreds of feet below ground heats water and mixes in carbon dioxide, resulting in naturally carbonated water.

Another form of natural carbonation can be achieved through the process of fermentation, as is sometimes the case with alcohol, like beer, champagne, and even kombucha. For kombucha, this happens during secondary fermentation when the kombucha is flavored, bottled, and left to ferment for longer. As it sits, the bacteria in the kombucha is reactivated by the sugars in the flavoring, causing it to release gas for a slightly fizzy drink.

Across all these bubbly beverages, carbonation levels vary somewhat dramatically. Soda is more carbonated than beer, seltzer and mineral waters are on par with soda, and champagne is as bubbly as they come, with roughly 1.5 times as much carbonation as an average soda. Despite all this variance, each of these beverages has one thing in common: they all are made up of thousands of bubbles. What distinguishes one bubble from the next though? Usually, it’s the size.

Think about your favorite tonic water. While some prefer the harsh carbonation of a traditional soda, others opt for brands like Fever Tree, which has small champagne bubbles that create a softer mouthfeel. This distinction between bubble size is a key factor in the experience of a beverage, but there are other variables to consider when it comes to effervescent drinks.

One of those variables is the water itself. Some waters are hard, some are soft, and the taste difference is palpable. For instance, BallyGowan, our Co-Founder and Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan’s favorite still mineral water that hails from Northern Ireland, is incredibly soft due to the limestone in the terrain. Meanwhile, Vichy Catalan, a Spanish mineral water that’s another one of Morgan’s faves, has such a high total dissolved solids content that some people actually feel stimulated by it. It’s also incredibly salty; one liter of the stuff has a whopping one gram of sodium.

And that’s another important factor when it comes to your favorite sparkling waters: salinity. Club soda has some salt added, which is a big reason why bartenders love it so much. A splash of soda in your Tom Collins does more than just refresh; the salt content adds necessary balance, offsetting the sweetness of simple syrup and the bracing acidity of a heavy squeeze of lemon. It’s the same reason why flaky Maldon salt is so delicious on top of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, or why a margarita with a heavily salted rim is irresistible. Is it any wonder why salt + water + bubbles is a winning combo?

Now that you’re sufficiently parched, enjoy some tongue-tingling cocktails, like a Negroni Royale made with a splash of sparkling wine and a Malibu Mule featuring our Botanic Hard Seltzer.

History of Bathing

History of Bathing

Bathing has always been about much more than getting clean. The act of slowing down for a soak is synonymous with self-care, and that’s been true since humans first had the thought, what if we sat in some hot water?

The history of tub time starts in ancient India, where the daily ritual of bathing first began. In Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, water is a purifying force thought to cleanse not only the body, but the mind and the soul. That’s why the vedas and puranas recommend bathing not once, but three times a day, an elaborate hygiene practice that was first recorded in the Grihya Sutra, a Hindu text detailing the samskaras, or ceremonies, that guide a person’s life.

While the ritual or regular bathing was first devised in India, the bathtub itself dates back to around 1500 BCE in Crete. Alabaster bathtubs excavated in Santorini and the frequent appearance of the Greek word for bathtub in Homer’s literature suggests that bathing was not just a hygienic practice for the Greeks, but a way of life.

The same was true in ancient Rome, where a network of aqueducts was developed to supply water to all large towns. The advent of the aqueduct brought with it thermae, or Roman public baths. What was once a private affair very quickly became a public spectacle, and these cathedrals of cleansing became a place to converse, learn, and quite literally blow off some steam. Within their walls stretched lecture halls, Greek and Latin libraries, and baths at every temperature.

Public bathing quickly became a part of life in other parts of the world as well. Dating back to 1266, the earliest iterations of Japanese bathhouses were built into natural caves or stone vaults, which were heated by burning wood before seawater was poured over the rocks to create steam. The entryways to these bathhouses were made intentionally small so as to slow the escape of heat. Because of this small opening and a lack of windows, the inside of these bathhouses was pitch dark, meaning users would have to clear their throats to announce their arrival. The combination of nudity and dim lighting meant that sexual shenanigans often arose, and in time these public bathhouses would come into disrepute on moral grounds.

Morality wasn’t the only thing to bring an end to public bathing. Disease, unsurprisingly, ran rampant in these bathhouses, which without soap or other germ-killing agents became cesspools of sorts. With health concerns looming, private baths grew in popularity and became increasingly accessible to the working class. As cleanliness became more and more correlated with social standing, soap became all the rage, too.

The rise of the private bath has brought with it new bathing rituals. Complete with bath salts and bubbles, the tub has become a place to take care of yourself and indulge in some alone time. It’s a decidedly different approach to bathing than the Romans had with their amphitheatre-like bathhouses, but the principle still stands: bathing has always and will always be about much more than getting clean.

We Miss Bars

We Miss Bars

Do you remember the last bar you went to?

Maybe it was small, cramped, dim with the warm glow of tea lights on tables. Tucked away in some hidden alleyway in Los Feliz. The kind of bar that feels like a secret, until 9pm rolls around and you realize the rest of the neighborhood is already in on it.

Or maybe it was a cathedral of cocktails, all high ceilings and echoing conversation and some serious R&D going on behind the bar. Rooms leading into rooms, staircases unfolding into unknown worlds.

Or maybe it was a tiki type of joint, with heavy pours of rum and banana leaf wallpaper. An institution of celebratory cocktails you wouldn’t dare make at home; piña coladas and daiquiris and drinks that require a heavy shake.

Since bars closed last March, we’ve thought a lot about the simple pleasures that come with a night out on the town. The pre-game playlist, the squeak of vinyl seats when you sidle up to the bar, the dizzying array of bottles on the back bar. The glimmering ruby hue of a perfect Negroni.

It’s a sensory experience we find ourselves craving even more now that our sights and sounds have been relegated to the same four walls for nearly a year.

And perhaps the part we miss most? Chatting with our local bartenders, the friendly faces behind the bar that dole out advice like the hospitality industry’s unofficial therapists and churn out drinks at a clip that any at-home cocktail shaker could never match.

Over the past year, bars have taken on many forms: cocktail outposts serving martinis in mason jars, sidewalk patio spectacles, even indoor shells of what they once were, set at 10% max capacity with distanced tables. Through all this shapeshifting, the bartenders and bar backs that make up the industry have remained committed to upholding what has always kept hospitality together at the seams: a sense of community.

Now it’s our turn to take care of them. Here’s how you can continue to help:

1. Order takeout straight from the source.

You’ve probably heard by now that the big delivery apps like Grubhub, UberEats, and Doordash are predatory to independent bars and restaurants. Instead of ordering through them, call up your local haunts and place your order directly, or order through a more ethical platform like ChowNow.

2. Donate to community organizations.

We love Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, a nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers dedicated to making the hospitality industry more hospitable to everyone.

3. Stay safe and tip big.

We’re itching to get back to bars, but the best way to keep our hospitality community safe is by staying home when you can, ordering often, and continuing to tip at least 20%.

Behind the Bottle: How We Made a Non-Alc Spirit

Behind the Bottle: How We Made a Non-Alc Spirit

When AMASS Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan set out to design our latest spirit, Riverine, the process began with botanicals, just as it always does. Then she went rogue, ditching the alcohol in favor of something a little lighter: water vapor.

Traditional spirits, like our Gin and Vodka, undergo a distillation process in which alcohol is used to extract oils from a blend of botanicals. With our Gin, that process begins with brighter botanicals, like citrus and California bay leaf, which go into our botanical basket. Meanwhile, earthier, richer botanicals, like Reishi mushroom and juniper, are macerated in alcohol for 18 hours.

From there, we place our spirit base in the kettle of a hybrid Carl pot still, and then run a long, lower-heat distillation where alcohol vapor is passed through a rectification column to soften flavors before joining the remaining botanicals in the botanical basket.

With Riverine, we did things differently. Each of our 14 botanicals is individually distilled in a proprietary hydrosteam distillation process. There, water vapor, instead of alcohol, is used to extract essential oils for a crisp, evergreen flavor profile. The result is a spirit that captures the freshness of the Pacific Northwest, the region where Morgan first forged her passion for plants.

Without the addition of alcohol, all the flavor comes directly from plants. Vibrant botanicals like sumac, sorrel, lemon, and apple are carefully layered along with earthy juniper and parsley. What you get is a complex spirit that is devoid of the dizzying effects that come with drinking a high-proof spirit. There’s none of the harsh burn you’d get from cheap alcohol, either. Instead, it’s smooth, nuanced, herbaceous, and endlessly mixable.

Basically, we took the best of booze and brought it to a non-alcoholic bottle.

Before you dive in, put our tasting tips to good use and learn a bit about the British Columbia island that inspired our first non-alcoholic spirit.

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