Monday, November 30, 2009
Repeal Day is this Saturday!
Once again let's thank Jeffrey Morganthaler for recognizing Repeal Day and putting some spark into what should be America's favorite holiday. Can you imagine a world where you couldn't have a gorgeous glass of wine with a nice meal or envision a sports bar without beer? December 5 is the day to celebrate. At my bar we are having a special celebration with a pre-prohibition cocktail list with such delights as the whiskey daisy, the saratoga brace up, and santa cruz sour. Anyhow, you have a week to make plans for this special day where you don't have to have an excuse to drink - to drink is the reason for the holiday.
Here's some prohibition trivia:
In 1921 prohibition agents seized 414,000 gallons of alcohol. In 1929, eight years into prohibition they siezed 11,860,000 gallons of alcohol (28 times more). Way to go moonshine!
Some commercial wine was still produced in the U.S., but was only available through government warehouses for use in religious ceremonies, particularly for communion in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Episcopal churches and in some Jewish ceremonies. "Malt and hop" stores popped up across the country and some former breweries turned to selling malt extract syrup, ostensibly for baking and "beverage" purposes.
Whiskey was available by prescription from medical doctors. The labels warned that it was strictly for medicinal purposes and any other uses were illegal. But even so doctors freely wrote these prescriptions and druggists filled them without question, and the number of "patients" increased dramatically. (Sound like something else that is currently illegal?)
Even some prominent citizens and politicians later admitted to having used alcohol during Prohibition. President Harding always kept the White House bar well stocked with bootleg liquor, though, as a Senator... he had voted for Prohibition!
Prohibition also presented lucrative opportunities for organized crime to take over the importation ("bootlegging"), manufacture, and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Al Capone, one of the most infamous bootleggers of them all, built his criminal empire largely on profits from illegal alcohol.
With alcohol production largely in the hands of criminals and unregulated clandestine home manufacturers, the quality of the product varied widely. There were many cases of people going blind or suffering from brain damage after drinking "bathtub gin" made with industrial alcohol or various poisonous chemicals.
Yay for Repeal Day!