Mickey Finn’s Special (12-16-1903)

If you are a sophisticated drinker, you know about Manhattans.  Obviously, that cocktail was inventing in New York City.  Here in Chicago, we can lay claim to devising our own famous mixed drink.

On this date, the city was learning about the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden.  The Lone Star was one of the dives of Whiskey Row, on State near Eleventh Street.  Mickey Finn, a little gnome ex-pickpocket, owned the place.  Today one of Finn’s barmaids—Gold Tooth Mary Thornton—was testifying before a special commission.


Gold Tooth Mary said there was a sign at the Lone Star inviting customers to “Try a Mickey Finn Special.”  This cocktail was a mixture of raw alcohol, snuff-soaked water, and a white liquid supplied by a voodoo doctor.  Anybody who drank a Special was knocked out cold.  The victim was then dragged into a side room, where he was stored until Mickey got around to robbing him.  After that he was dumped in the alley.

Mary and her colleagues got a percentage of Mickey’s take.  That was just as well, since their customers weren’t in any condition to give the ladies a tip.

not-mickeyMickey had all the angles covered.  Some people would drink only beer, so he had another concoction called the “Number Two” that he poured into the beer.  According to Mary, her boss had no fear of the police.  Mickey boasted that he was in tight with Alderman Kenna, and that he always saved the best cigars for the local cops.

This time, friendship and stogies did him no good.  Because of all the publicity, city officials revoked Mickey’s liquor license.

Mickey thought he had been given a bum deal.  Gold Tooth Mary’s story didn’t make any sense.  “I’d lose money feeding dope to the guys that blow in here,” he claimed.  “I wouldn’t get enough money out of their clothes in a year to pay for the dope.”

With the Lone Star closed, Mickey left Chicago.  He later returned and operated another saloon.  By that time he was so notorious that he didn’t dare try any funny business.

But Mickey had the last laugh.  He sold his secret formula to a half-dozen other saloonkeepers, and from there it spread throughout America.  Today, any kind of knockout drink is called a Mickey Finn.




2 Responses to “Mickey Finn’s Special (12-16-1903)”

  1. 1 terrinschmidt2013 December 16, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Charlie Chaplin bears a striking resemblance to Mickey Finn (LOL)

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