I've watched many episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" from the 1950s and early 1960s. In numerous episodes, they are in a fancy room in some house/mansion with a bunch of bottles on a table. It makes me want to replicate that to some extent.

What kind of bottles/brands/kinds of alcoholic beverages should I buy today to roughly equate the top-3 or top-5 or top-10 kinds of booze that they would likely have had in such a setting? I probably will get the cheapest brand/versions, though, but since I know virtually nothing about alcohol, I'm trying to determine what they typically had.

  • Many of the brands likely don't exist anymore, but it would be mostly cheap whiskey and beer, as is the case today. Most drinkers go for the quickest path to inebriation. Buy yourself a few 60s era playboys and that should give you an idea.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Oct 19, 2021 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


What kind of alcoholic beverages would've been common in a 1950s-1960s USA home?

As far as beer goes in 1950, the top brewer was Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co., produced 3.4 million more barrels than the 10th brewer, now-defunct Pfeiffer Brewing Co.

The following chart says it all:

The top brewers by barrelage include Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Company (now MillerCoors), and Pabst Brewing Company, all of which have been ranking in the top 10 since 1950. What’s more striking, however, is how much more substantial the distance between the biggest and 10th-biggest brewers has become.

In 1950, the top brewer, Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co., produced 3.4 million more barrels than the 10th brewer, now-defunct Pfeiffer Brewing Co. By 2017, the distance between top-producing Anheuser-Busch and the 10th-biggest brewer, Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co., was more than 87.5 million barrels.

Charted: America’s Biggest Brewers by Decade, From 1950 to Now

Charted: America’s Biggest Brewers by Decade, From 1950 to Now

Lucky Lager was quite popular both in the USA and Canada.

Lucky Lager is an American lager with U.S. brewing and distribution rights held by the Pabst Brewing Company. Originally launched in 1934 by the San Francisco-based General Brewing Company, Lucky Lager grew to be one of the prominent beers of the Western United States during the 1950s and 1960s. In 2019, Pabst announced that the beer brand would be revived and would be brewed by 21st Amendment Brewery, a brewery based in San Leandro.

As far as whisky goes, I.W.Harper was the most popular.

In the late 1950s and 60s, you would be hard-pressed to find a whiskey drinker who hadn’t heard of I.W. Harper bourbon. The brand was one of the products of the Bernheim Brothers distillery; a Kentucky-based operation founded in the mid-1800s, and enjoyed a surge in popularity after World War II. Advertisements boasted that it was "the only bourbon enjoyed in 110 countries," and a favorite of travelers on ocean liners. In the 1969 Bond movie One Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 007 eschews his usual martini for I.W. Harper on ice.- The Return of a Classic American Whiskey

The whiskeys Laphroaig and Bowmore seems to be also quite popular also.

When it comes to the 1960s, there are perhaps two names which stand tall above all others in my book. Laphroaig and Bowmore. These two Islay malts encompass everything that was wonderful about whisky making in this era. Each had fully operational floor maltings using their own source of peat. Each began the decade with direct coal firing and worm tubs; each entered the 1970s converted to steam and condensers. For much of the 1960s each shared the same Glasgow brewery yeast source. Each make would go on to be characterised by intense and almost mesmeric interplay between tropical fruits and peat smoke. Each was sublime from 8 to 40 years of age. Each distillery’s 1960s output fed some stunning younger official bottlings in the 1970s and 1980s. Each distillate is regarded today as some of the finest whisky ever produced. - The most important decade in Whisky: The Legendary 1960s

Back in the day, wine was not cheap and usually drank on specific occasions.

Some mixed drinks became popular in the 1950s:

The Popular Mixed Drinks of the 50s & 60s

By the 1950s, the cocktail had thoroughly permeated American society. Post - WW II soldiers had returned with tales of tropical rum drinks, and gin martinis became all the rage. Although the Manhattan and the Cuba Libre were common drinks for both men and women, sweet dessert-like cocktails, such as the sloe gin fizz and the festively green grasshopper, were ladylike beverages suitable for the novice drinker.

Although today's martinis are made with anything from chocolate liquor to vodka and pomegranate juice, the original cocktail was made only with gin and dry vermouth with a green olive on a fancy toothpick for garnish. The less vermouth, the drier the martini; some said one should only wave the vermouth bottle over the shaker. Switch out the olive for pickled pearl onions and you have a Gibson. Vermouth -- sweet, not dry -- is also a key ingredient in another classic that turns up in old movies: the rye whiskey-based Manhattan. Gin with lemon juice and sugar creates the Tom Collins, a popular summer cooler.

The 1956 Andrews Sisters hit song "Rum and Coca Cola" was a nod to the post-war popularity of rum, which inspired the Cuba Libre, a simple combination of cola and lime. When Polynesian tiki restaurants took off, tropical drinks with umbrellas began a long run of popularity. The Trader Vic's mai tai, made with light rum, orange liqueur, almond syrup, fresh lime juice and rock candy syrup, turned up at cocktail parties alongside the teeny weenies and the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts known as rumaki. Pineapple and coconut flavors made the frothy pina colada a popular poolside rum refreshment. The zombie, a combination of three rums with apricot brandy and a variety of juices, was so powerful that bars often limited customers to two servings.

As co-ed drinking came into vogue, many of the cocktails were designed to attract women. The sumptuous creme de menthe and creme de cacao grasshopper was sometimes blended with ice cream, like a green alcoholic milkshake, and the sweet and fruity sloe gin fizz might as well have come from a soda fountain tap. The simplest of all was the white Russian, a simple mixture of vodka, Kahlua and cream. These drinks were often served either with or in place of dessert.

As the weekend brunch became popular as social gatherings in homes and restaurants, drinks began to take on a healthy disguise. A stick of celery and a couple of olives added to tomato juice and vodka made the bloody Mary cocktail practically a food group of its own. The screwdriver -- simply orange juice and vodka -- provided a good dose of vitamin C, as did its grapefruit juice cousin, the greyhound. Once only known in New Orleans, the elaborate and airy Ramos gin fizz made a comeback for brunch events.

The 7 Best Drinks From the 1950s

  • Excellent answer.
    – Eric S
    Oct 19, 2021 at 14:26

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