There may have actually been a Hugo Arnold’s bathtub gin during Prohibition, but today no one knows for sure. Not even current Arnold’s Bar and Grill owner Ronda Breeden. “The myth came before us, before [preceding owner] Jim Tarbell,” she says. But Ronda and her son Chris Breeden, general manager, say there are countless reasons to believe. Hugo, the third-generation Arnold who owned the bar during Prohibition, “was arrested with a trunk-load of booze twice,” Chris says. And then there are the still-intact floorboard hiding spots and strategically placed doorbells. The idea to make the spirit a reality happened “serendipitously,” Chris recalls. It all started with a fictional throwback T-shirt logo, created by local designer Kyle Eli Ebersole, who envisioned what that branding might have looked like had it been a legit operation back then. When Don and Linda Outterson of St. Bernard-based Woodstone Creek Winery & Distillery randomly offered to create a bespoke spirit for the bar, the Breedens accepted, applying the branding and kicking off a two-year process to craft the perfect blend (light on botanicals, ideal for cocktails) and get it approved by the state liquor board. As for the speculation, they’re just happy it’s kept the history alive all these years.
The Cincy 75
Arnold’s contemporary twist on the classic Prohibition-era cocktail The French 75.
1.5 oz Hugo Arnold’s Bathtub Gin
2 oz Champagne
Juice of half a lemon
1 whole sugar cube
3 drops of Peychaud’s bitters
Fresh blueberries and/or raspberries
1. Place whole sugar cube into the bottom of a Champagne flute.
2. Add three drops of bitters to sugar cube (leave whole, do not muddle).
3. Add gin and lemon juice to shaker and shake vigorously. Pour over sugar cube.
4. Top with Champagne and add three or four fresh berries.
5. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Recipe created by Pam Diebold, Arnold’s head mixologist.