Book Review Cocktail Noir

Cocktail Noir: From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimlets


Title: Cocktail Noir: From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimlets
Author: Scott Deitche
Publisher: Reservoir Square Books, 2015

Reviewed by Brenda Hengel

I have to admit it. I like gossip. I also love history. And, really, if you think about it, the best history is just gossip about people and events that happened in the not-so-recent past. Cocktail Noir is perfect, full of interesting gossip about the history of cocktails and the gangsters, writers and others who loved to drink them. Plus you come away with tons of new drink recipes to show off to friends and family.

For example, The Negroni, a drink made with gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and orange twist. James Bond was a fan and the drink appears in “Casino Royale.” Deitche also quotes Orson Welles, “The bitters are excellent for your liver. The gin is bad for you. They balance each other.”

Deitche also explores Prohibition and its effect on cocktail creation and drinking. Rum was heavily linked with Prohibition smugglers. In fact, the term rum-runner came to envelop all liquor smugglers of the time, even those bringing whiskey from Canada.

And who can readily name a crime character – or for that matter the crime novelist – without a favorite drink in hand. Philip Marlowe and Old Forester bourbon. Sam Spade and a pre-mixed Manhattan in a paper cup. Mickey Spillane and beer.

Not to miss our real-life mobsters. San Giancana was linked to martinis. Santo Trafficante Jr., scotch and water. Meyer Lansky, too, liked his scotch, according to his daughter Sandi Lansky. Al Capone even has a cocktail named after him: The Al Capone made with rye whiskey, vermouth, Campari and orange zest.

Deitche also lists some of the great Mob bars and restaurants in cities famous for their Mob influence. Of course it includes Las Vegas.

Purchase this book in the Museum retail store and go on your own gangster bar crawl. Makes a great Mom’s or Dad’s Day gift.

Brenda is the PR & Marketing Manager for The Mob Museum

This review is part of The Mob Museum’s Pop Culture & The Mob Newsletter