Tommy Gun Cocktail

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Your cocktail calendar entry for: February

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Add February 14 is Valentine’s Day so we’re naming the Tommy Gun cocktail as Drink of the Day.  A drink called the Tommy Gun for Valentine’s Day?  Yes, we’re thinking of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago.  It was, of course, on Valentine’s Day.  Need a Valentine’s Day drink more oriented toward your love interest?  For that we’d suggest Dean Martin’s signature drink, the Flame of Love cocktail.

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Valentine’s Day in 1929 Chicago was a bad day for Chicago’s North Side Gang.  Seven members were at a garage in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago that morning but were lined up against a wall and riddled with bullets fired from Tommy Guns by four assailants.

The victims were all associated with George “Bugs” Moran’s North Side gang.  One of them, Frank Gusenberg, was an enforcer and found still alive despite 14 bullet wounds.  He was briefly stabilized at a hospital and the police asked him who did it.  He reportedly followed the code of ‘snitches get stitches’ and replied, “No one shot me.”

1929, of course, was during Prohibition.  The Chicago bootlegging trade was quite lucrative, but the gangsters at that time weren’t fond of sharing and vied for dominance.  Moran’s rival, of course was Al Capone, for his birthday we mixed the Southside cocktail.

It was common knowledge that Moran had been hijacking Capone’s liquor shipments.  He had also taken over several saloons run by Capone and muscled in on a Capone-run dog track in the suburbs.  Capone was not amused and wanted Moran killed.  But that didn’t happen at this massacre as one of Capone’s operatives mistook another man for Moran and set things off before Moran arrived.

Capone was immediately suspected of organizing the killings, but he had established an alibi in advance by going to Florida.  Nonetheless, nobody believed otherwise.  Capone was summoned to testify, police had leads on the killers, but the case stagnated until 1929 when police found two Tommy Guns in the bungalow of a suspected gunman.  Forensic ballistics was new at the time, but the guns were identified as those used in the massacre.  Nonetheless, nobody was ever charged as all the real suspects were dead by 1935.

The Tommy Gun Cocktail

You clearly need a Valentine’s Day drink.  And depending on your mood we offer two choices.  Considering that Tommy Guns were used in the Valentine’s Day Massacre the Tommy Gun cocktail is a good choice.  Nonetheless, if you’re seeking something associated with more peaceful thoughts for Valentine’s Day we turn to the Flame of Love.

The Tommy Gun cocktail was the 2008 brainchild of Jacques Bezuidenhout, when he was a bartender in San Francisco.  He’s a native of South Africa, was the bar, cocktail and spirit specialist for the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group and consulted for innumerable bars and restaurants.  He’s won best brand ambassador and has been nominated for Spirited Awards by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.  Those are like the Oscars of the bar world.  He evidently knows his stuff.

The Tommy Gun recipe itself is somewhat akin the ever-popular Penicillin cocktail.  This one is Irish whiskey vs. the Scotch whisky in the Penicillin, but they share the ginger notes.  The Tommy Gun, however, should be shaken to incorporate the ginger, which is used fresh rather than being used in a ginger-honey syrup.

tommy gun cocktail

Tommy Gun Cocktail

An Irish Whiskey based drink, the Tommy Gun cocktail comes to us from San Francisco. It is reminiscent of the modern classic, the Penicillin cocktail, in combining the flavor of ginger with a whiskey. If you're not familiar it's a great combination. While the original recipe specifies specific bottles, this recipe works well with the substitutions we've described below.
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  • 2 oz Irish Whiskey The original recipe specifies Jameson, but this is not a requirement. Use any other Irish whiskey. But in a pinch, if you don't have that, use bourbon.
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier Cointreau will also work well.
  • 2 slices Fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp Apricot jam
  • ¼ oz Fresh lemon juice
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  • Add lemon juice, ginger slices and apricot jam to your trusty shaker.
  • Muddle to break down the ginger slices.
  • Add whiskey, Grand Marnier and ice.
  • Shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into Old Fashioned glass containing fresh ice.
  • Express twist over drink and garnish.
  • Drink.
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