Between 1919 and 1933, IRS agents known as revenuers destroyed thousands of stills used to produce illicit bootleg liquor. During prohibition organized crime took over the booze market, creating a multi-million dollar criminal empire. From Roy Olmstead in Seattle to Chicago King Pin Al Capone, everyone was in on the grift.
Prohibition fashioned a new style and excitement of drinking. Speakeasy patrons ducked through secret entrances; disappeared through trapdoors and occasionally, ran from federal agents. The wealthy and fortuneless alike regularly took risks to enjoy a couple cocktails with friends and strangers.
Law enforcement, politicians and supporters of prohibition eventually realized a countrywide ban on liquor was impossible to enforce. They ultimately came to understand what we already know, that enjoying spirits is ingrained in modern society. To take it away is not only foolish, but a shift in the culture and freedom upon which our country was founded. Albert Einstein said, “The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.” Well said sir.
On this day in 1933, thirsty members of congress ratified the 21st amendment, ending Prohibition and lifting the ban on alcoholic beverages. To this we raise our glass and toast the repeal of Prohibition, “For the teetotalers who knew not what they were thinking, because there is no good living where there is no good drinking…”
Make sure to duck into your favorite Speakeasy tonight and toast with a prohibition inspired cocktail. I’ll be drinking one of my all-time favorites, the Sidecar.
1 ½ ounces brandy (or mix it up and try it with Bourbon)
½ ounce Cointreau
Juice from one lemon
Shake with ice and serve up with an optional sugar rim. Cheers!