Toast the End of Prohibition, Drink Wine
Get your sip on as you watch the long-awaited premiere of 'Boardwalk Empire'
So as you watch the much-anticipated premier of 'Boardwalk Empire' this Sunday night, why not pretend you are living in that era?
The law that regulated Prohibition, The Volstead Act, also allowed farmers and consumers to make a small amount of wine for personal use because it was considered to be non-intoxicating fruit juice. Religious uses of wine were also exempt from Prohibition and many people, ahem, got very religious.
The era changed America’s winemaking tastes, and at the end of Prohibition winemaking in this country was left in dismal shape. Vineyards were badly neglected and many of the winemakers had died or left for other countries. As for American culture, the near end of wine was the beginning of the era of cocktails.
So as you watch the much-anticipated premier of Boardwalk Empire this Sunday night, why not pretend you are living in that era? Of course, in your version, you can still sip something super savvy, like bordeaux. We imagine the French were still enjoying their vin while in-the-know Americans in the 1920s were either scrambling to get their hands on something decent or making their own "fruit juice" at home.
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Drink To Good Fortune With These Traditional Irish Toasts On St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day honors the life and death of Ireland's most prominent patron saint and is often characterized by wearing green, eating traditional food, and heaps of drinking, of course! Pour yourself a Guinness or other Irish stout or go for some Irish whiskey. But if that's more your style, no worries, you can scarf down some corned beef and cabbage when the drunk munchies hit.
Every good celebration calls for a proper toast and that's something the Irish do oh, so well. If you need some inspiration of what to toast to this St. Patrick's Day, here are some ideas to get you through that mention the finer things in life. like love, luck, and a good party.
Say any of the following traditional toasts before having a drink to good fortune, just say "Sláinte!" which means "health" (and is pronounced like &ldquoslawn-che&rdquo) instead of your typical "cheers. That's the true Irish way.
10 Mind-blowing Alcohol Facts
Drinking has been so widespread throughout history that Patrick McGovern, an archaeological chemist at the University of Pennsylvania, called it "a universal language" in an Economist article. Indeed, you're hard-pressed to find a culture or event in history that alcohol (or lack of it) didn't feature in some way.
In a sense, alcoholic beverages are just a simple matter of chemistry and physiology. When yeast cells consume carbohydrates in grains, vegetables or fruits, they produce a fluid called ethyl alcohol. The latter, when ingested by humans, is converted into a chemical called acetaldehyde, and then eventually broken down into carbon dioxide and water. While ethyl alcohol is toxic in large enough doses, in more moderate quantities it merely relaxes the muscles and stimulates the brain by depressing inhibitions [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica].
But that explanation hardly does justice to a substance that people have been eagerly producing and consuming since the dawn of human civilization. The ancient Sumerians, who lived 4,500 years ago, even worshipped a goddess, Ninkasi, who ruled over the brewing and distributing of beer to the populace. In a royal tomb, we find figures sucking brew with straws out of what resembles a modern beer keg [source: Gately]. Who knew?
In that spirit (pardon the pun), here are 10 fascinating facts about alcohol that will enrich your cocktail conversations.
10: Wine Was Invented Before the Wheel
It's not clear precisely when our ancient ancestors started imbibing, but most likely, ancient hunter-gatherers discovered the effects of alcohol when they found and ate fruit that had dropped to the ground and fermented. Humans liked that tipsy feeling so much that when they switched to being farmers and living in stable communities, they started trying to make the stuff deliberately.
Archaeological chemist Patrick McGovern analyzed shards of clay from a 9,000-year-old Chinese village and found that they contained chemical traces of mead, a wine made from honey. The ancient beverage had an alcohol content of 10 percent [sources: Thadeusz, Gately].
Meanwhile, the potter's wheel wasn't invented until 3,500 years later in Mesopotamia, and wheeled chariots weren't developed until probably 300 years after that [source: Gambino]. So we know, at least, that the earliest mead drinkers didn't have to worry about finding designated drivers.
9: A Beer Was Once Made From Antarctic Ice
If you're a beer aficionado, you're probably familiar with brands of brew whose makers tout them as being made with mountain spring water or some other exotic ingredient. But in 2010, Nail Brewing, an Australian company, found a way to top all that. It created a limited-edition batch of beer using water made from melted Antarctic ice. The latter had been brought back by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an activist group that had staged an anti-whaling campaign in the Southern (Antarctic) Ocean.
But you couldn't buy Antarctic Nail Ale at your local bottle shop. It was auctioned off at hefty prices of up to $1,850 Australian dollars (nearly $1,614) a bottle, with the proceeds going to the conservation group [sources: dEstries, Nail Brewing].
8: Tequila Only Can Come From Mexico
According to Mexican law (which the U.S. honors), the famously fiery beverage must contain at least 51 percent liquor distilled from the sweet nectar of blue agave. That desert plant grown primarily in Jalisco, though four other Mexican states also are allowed to legally produce tequila. The name comes from the Ticuila Indians of Jalisco [sources: Humphrey, Handley].
When South African distillers started making their own version of the beverage in the early 2000s, using a plant similar to agave, Mexico didn't like the idea of being undercut. Its diplomats used international trade agreements to prevent South African companies from calling their product tequila. Instead, they were compelled to market it as "Agava" [source: Associated Press].
7: Wine Doesn't Necessarily Get Better With Age
For someone who isn't steeped in wine knowledge, it's easy to listen to wine buffs talk about the vintage of various wines -- that is, the year in which they were bottled -- and assume that the older a wine is, the better. But that's not how it works. The most important thing about vintage is the particular year itself -- what the weather conditions were back then, and what impact they might have had upon the grape harvest and the quality of the wine produced from it.
As for age, that's more often a negative than a positive, according to wine writer Giles Kime. "The vast majority of wines -- particularly whites -- become increasingly dull and flaccid with age," he writes in his book "Secrets of Wine: Insider Secrets into the Real World of Wine." Only a few high-quality reds and some Champagnes improve over time -- "and even that is very much a matter of personal taste."
Apart from those exceptions, wines generally should be consumed within a year or two of bottling.
6: The U.S. Government Used to Poison Alcohol
During Prohibition in the 1920s, the U.S. federal government tried to outlaw the sale of booze, wine and beer, and that didn't go over very well. By mid-decade, officials in the administration of President Calvin Coolidge were frustrated because so many Americans continued to drink bootlegged alcohol. They decided upon a devious -- or rather, murderous -- tactic. Knowing that millions of gallons of industrial alcohol were being stolen by bootleggers and used to make beverages, they ordered manufacturers in 1926 to add poisons such as formaldehyde, chloroform and methyl alcohol to their products.
Quickly, illicit drinkers began dying in droves, and the toll became so shocking that New York City medical examiner actually held a press conference to warn the public about the plot. "The United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths that poisoned liquor causes, although it cannot be held legally responsible," he railed.
It did little good. Four hundred people died in New York alone from poisoned booze, and the following year, the death toll climbed to 700. The fiendish deterrent program didn't stop until Prohibition was repealed in December 1933 [source: Blum].
5: Abstaining Is Riskier to Health Than Drinking
For decades, we've all heard the warnings about how excessive drinking can turn your liver into Swiss cheese, and cause all sorts of other awful physical woes as well. But when scientists actually got around to studying the death rates of drinkers and non-drinkers, they made a startling discovery. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, abstaining from drinking actually tends to increase your risk of dying.
In a study published in 2010 in the scientific journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, University of Texas at Austin psychologist Charles Holahan found that over a 20-year period, 69 percent of abstainers died. That actually was higher than the 60 percent death rate for heavy drinkers. But the longest-lived group among the 1,824 study participants was composed of moderate drinkers, only 41 percent of whom died in that period [sources: Holahan, et al., Cloud].
Some might argue that many of the abstainers were former alcoholics so no wonder more of them died. Holahan and his co-researchers did a model controlling for former problem drinking, existing health problems and other factors. They found that even after the adjustments, "abstainers and heavy drinkers continued to show increased mortality risks of 51 and 45 percent, respectively, compared to moderate drinkers."
4: Diet Mixers in Cocktails Get You Drunk Faster
People who are worried about gaining weight from the empty calories in booze might try to compensate by using diet soda when they make a seven-and-seven or a rum and Coke. But there's a catch that could land you in the drunk tank.
In a study published in 2013 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers from Northern Kentucky University reported that drinkers who consumed artificially sweetened mixers had a significantly higher breath-alcohol reading than those who used mixers containing sugar, which apparently slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. Worse yet, "individuals were unaware of these differences, a factor that may increase the safety risks associated with drinking alcohol," the scientists noted [sources:Marczinski and Stamates, Eldred].
3: Whiskey Starts Out Clear
Part of the ambiance of whiskey is that rich amber color that reminds you that you're drinking something that was carefully aged for years, like a prized pair of Levis or a tweed jacket that you've adorned with leather elbow patches as the fabric frayed.
But you might be surprised to learn that the color actually is added on, in the same fashion. Ethyl alcohol is clear, and so are most varieties of whiskey at the start. But after distilling, the liquor is aged in oak casks that have been air-dried for nine months and then heated on the inside to give the wood a charred "red layer" that is rich in wood sugars and caramelized tannin. Those chemicals, when they're absorbed by the whiskey, change its taste and give it the amber color [source: Waldman].
2: Americans Once Drank More Alcohol Than Water
Early Americans would be shocked by the current level of alcohol consumption in the nation -- because it's so much less than they used to drink. In the 1600s and 1700s, many Americans saw alcohol not just as a pleasant diversion, but as a miraculous medicine that could cure illnesses, strengthen the weak and pep up old people. As a result, they often started the day with a liquor pick-me-up and then consumed more alcohol steadily throughout the day, sometimes finishing with several rounds at a tavern in the evening.
In 1790, according to federal government data, the average American over the age of 15 consumed the following over a year [source: Crews]:
- 34 gallons (129 liters) of beer and cider
- 5 gallons (19 liters) of whiskey or other distilled spirits
- 1 gallon (4 liters) of wine
In 2010, however, the typical American drank over the course of the year [source: Zmuda]:
- About 21 gallons (80 liters) of beer
- 1.5 gallons (6 liters) of spirits
- 2 gallons of wine (8 liters)
Part of the reason for the heavy consumption back then was that water was often unsafe to drink. Even though this was more of a problem in Europe, the earliest settlers followed the example of their European forebears who were used to substituting beer or wine for water. One of the few liquor naysayers in Colonial times was physician Benjamin Rush, who developed the theory that alcoholism was a disease, but hardly anyone listened to him [source: Crews].
1: White Wine Can Be Made From Red Grapes
The wordy wine snob portrayed by Paul Giamatti in the movie "Sideways" probably could have expounded on this fact at length, but for those of us who think of fine wine as anything that doesn't come with a screw top, it probably comes as a surprise. You can make white wine from red grapes. Champagne, for example, is made from pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes (both red grapes) as well as chardonnay, and the three types of grapes are often blended.
All grape juice, which comes from the inside of the grapes, starts out as white. It's the skin that contains the red pigment. If the juice is squeezed out of the grapes and separated quickly from the skins, it remains white. By contrast, if winemakers are producing a red wine, they allow the juice to remain in contact with the red skins during fermentation. This causes the wine to become dark [source: Crosariol].
Originally Published: Oct 3, 2014
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Author's Note: 10 Mind-blowing Alcohol Facts
It's odd to be writing about alcohol, since I very seldom drink anymore. When I was a young I worked in the newspaper business, where being able to hold your liquor once was considered a skill as integral to rising in the profession as being able to scribble pithy quotes into a notepad at a crime scene and then dictate a front-page story in 30 minutes from a pay-phone booth. I was never too good at that last part, but I tried to make up for it by closing down my share of smoke-filled bars and after-hours, as I tried to soak up whatever wisdom sprang from the boozy lips of my journalistic mentors, or maybe pick up a tip uttered by some inebriated lawyer, cop or politician.
But for me at least, that world vanished long ago, replaced by one in which I rise early, sit down at a computer in my living room to make Skype calls and pound out a seemingly endless stream of blog posts, tweets and articles for various websites. Given my workload, extra-strong Vietnamese coffee is the only mood-altering substance that I can afford to ingest. If I ever get the chance to retire, though, maybe I'll start drinking again.
All About Prohibition and The History of Repeal Day
Eighty-five years ago today, on December 5, 1933, Americans popped corks across the country and celebrated the end of the failed great experiment Prohibition, the official total ban on alcohol consumption and sales. The date is known as Repeal Day.
During the turn of the century, alcohol was blamed for many of society’s ills, and various individuals and groups, including the powerful Women’s Christian Temperance Union, worked hard to promote the idea that total abstinence was the only way forward. Their message created deep divisions in the population, and Congress finally stepped in and took sides.
On January 16, 1919, enough state politicians ratified the 18th Amendment to usher in the National Prohibition Act, also called the Volstead Act. The move completely outlawed the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.”
Despite the sweeping change to the social institution of alcohol, the next 13 years saw the consumption of cocktails go underground as bootleggers and the Mafia got involved in the liquid’s production and distribution.
Slowly, the support for Prohibition began to wan after it became more and more clear the decision to ban citizens from drinking wasn’t creating the panacea it promised, and the extreme solution to the United States’ issues may even have inadvertently caused more.
The alcohol that was produced could run the gamut from passable to toxic in quality since there was now zero regulation. Meanwhile, mental illness, drunken behavior, poverty, crime and civil disobedience were just as present as ever.
As the years ticked by and the tides turned, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for president on an anti-Prohibition platform, signaling the beginning of the end for the misguided Amendment. Eighteen days after taking office, on March 22, 1933, Roosevelt signed into law the authorization for the sale of beer under 3.2 percent and wine.
Florida ratified the 21st Amendment on November 14, 1933, and Utah became the last state to join the movement to end Prohibition, just weeks later, on the fifth day of December. Prohibition was finally dead and gone for good.
Today, Repeal Day is yet another reason to get in the joyful holiday spirit. It’s remembered as not only a nod to the preservation of our Constitutional rights, but also as a celebration of the long tradition, artistry and skill that goes into the craft of alcohol, from the time it starts as grain or other ingredients until the moment we lift a glass of the liquid to cheer.
LVMH Believes It Has the Perfect Drink to Toast the End of Lockdown
PARIS — Move over, Aperol — there’s a new spritz in town.
Moët Hennessy, the wines and spirits division of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is planting its flag in the thriving “aperitifs” market with the launch of Chandon Garden Spritz, which hits the market just as many countries are lifting restrictions designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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A sparkling wine blended with bitter-orange liqueur, the drink is the brainchild of Ana Paula Bartolucci, the first female winemaker in 60 years at Chandon Argentina, one of six wineries worldwide making sparkling wine under the Chandon label.
“Our inspiration for this product was the Argentinean love for bitterness,” Bartolucci says via Zoom from Mendoza. “We drink maté every day, we drink Fernet and vermouth.”
The drink might well have been called 64, since that is the number of recipes that Bartolucci went through before hitting on the winning formula, which contains no artificial colors or aromas.
“I’m really very proud of this recipe because it’s unique: it’s made only with natural ingredients,” she says. The oranges are grown on a pesticide-free family farm, with dried and fresh rinds going into the blend. The juice is donated to local schoolchildren, while the waste gets used for compost.
“It’s a very artisanal process,” Bartolucci says. “It’s very special for me because it reminds me of my childhood, playing with some herbs and spices in the background while my grandmother’s making limoncello and narancello.”
Whereas other spritzes are made from mixing liqueur and sparkling wine just before serving, Chandon Garden Spritz is blended before bottling, meaning the quality remains the same with every glass — ideally drenched over ice with a sprig of rosemary and a sliver of dried orange.
Sibylle Scherer, president of Chandon, hopes the drink will appeal to a more health-conscious consumer.
“We see this big trend that we care about what we put in our body. We care about how it is made, where it is made, and what we put inside of us. On average, it’s half the sugar in a Garden Spritz that you would generally have with a spritz,” she explains.
Since rival Campari Group energized its Aperol Spritz with a highly successful marketing campaign in 2017, the cocktail has become near-ubiquitous, and fueled a growing trend for sparkling mixology drinks.
“We see a big evolution of consumers looking for new flavor profiles. They are open for tasting new things,” says Scherer. “It opens up a new market for us. I think we’re actually creating a new market with that product, because I don’t think that anything like Garden Spritz exists at the moment.”
The drink is launching in Europe and the U.S., marking Chandon’s first big push on the international market, underscored by a new visual identity with eye-catching vertical labels. Previously, the brand was sold mainly in the countries where it produces sparkling wine: Argentina, Brazil, the United States, India, China and Australia.
“We thought one day it would be nice to be in Europe, to be sold there, but we needed something innovative and different, because Europe doesn’t need another brut,” says Arnaud de Saignes, international director of Chandon.
“It came from a local culture, and it crossed with a global trend of aperitifs around bubbles, and we thought with this there was a unique opportunity, which was to bring to the world of spritz a signature on the sparkling wine,” he adds.
Garden Spritz is made with a dry sparkling wine that blends chardonnay, pinot noir and semillon grapes, while other spritz drinks are usually mixed with sweeter prosecco wines from Italy. Scherer said LVMH was not concerned about denting the existing market for its Moët & Chandon Champagne.
“It’s a very distinctive product that no one could produce in the Champagne region, because there’s a certain appellation and there are certain rules to it. We have the freedom to innovate a little bit, and that’s what we’re doing here, so we’re not afraid of any cannibalization. We think we bring a nice fresh approach that will support everyone in the category,” she explains.
Chandon is introducing the drink with an online and outdoor marketing campaign, starting in cities. It’s positioned at the premium level, with a recommended price of 19.50 euros a bottle in stores, or 8 to 10 euros a glass in a bar. Suggested food pairings include spicy Asian food, sushi, old cheddar, dried exotic fruits and nuts.
It will be served in specially designed ridged glasses, with Chandon’s signature seven-pointed star engraved in the base, that will be also available to buy online from July through LVMH’s wines and spirits e-commerce site Clos 19. Underscoring the positioning of the drink, its cooling bag is made from washable paper, jute and cotton.
Sampling campaigns will be key, since the team behind Garden Spritz is convinced that flavor is its strongest selling point. “The most important thing is for you to taste it and to feel the equilibrium between the sweetness, the bitterness and the acidity. I love to say that it has a tonic effect that makes you want one more sip,” says Bartolucci.
Scherer, who joined Chandon from LVMH’s travel retail business DFS and previously worked at Escada and Jet Set, hopes Garden Spritz will become popular with the fashion set once physical gatherings are authorized again.
“I would love to have us partnering with a couple of fashion brands when they have their fashion shows in the summer seasons, but I think also museums, art exhibitions. I think it’s a perfect association with us,” she says.
In the meantime, she believes it’s the ideal drink to toast the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
“In a way, the naturality of how we come together is what you have in a glass, so I think it’s the perfect drink for de-confinement. It’s the happy drink to drink on a terrace, or in the garden, or at the beach. I think it’s really what we’re all longing for at the moment,” she says.
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Prohibition Food Trends and Tipples
Eighty years ago today, on December 5, 1933, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was repealed, marking the end of Prohibition. The amendment, which prohibited the production, transport, and sale of alcohol took effect on January 17, 1920 and was the only amendment in our country's history to ever be repealed. Thus, today became known by Americans as Repeal Day.
The truth was, while the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment meant it was now legal to serve alcohol once again, during the Prohibition era, thousands of taverns, saloons, pubs, and taprooms in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco &mdash among other cities &mdash continued to offer alcohol. These establishments became known as speakeasies, because a password needed to be spoken softly, or easy, usually in a small opening at a back door, before patrons could enter.
New York was a far cry from a dry town during those years. It was estimated by the New York Historical Society that anywhere from 20,000 to 300,000 (!) speakeasies operated in the Big Apple during Prohibition. Some were drab and dank, while others became famous for serving alcohol like the 300 Club, Charlie's "21", and the Stork Club. In this pre-Depression era, these clubs offered Gatsby-esque environs serving forward-thinking culinary delights. According to the "Enclyclopedia of American Food and Drink, "New York's '21' Club was a speakeasy during this period and had two bars, a dance floor, an orchestra, and dining rooms on two floors." The alcohol served at some of the higher-end speakeasies were well-crafted cocktails and fine wines.
Of course, moonshine, illicit distilled liquor, was being prepared behind closed doors in homes and commercially across the country. According to the Oxford Companion of American Food & Drink, "During Prohibition, moonshiners enjoyed a huge profit margin, making four gallons of whiskey for about $4 and selling them for about $160." However, it didn't have the same smokey taste as the whiskey in pre-Prohibition days, described by the Oxford Companion of American Food & Drink as "tasteless" and "harsh."
Quick-service restaurants cropped up as a result of the ban of alcohol. The Oxford Companion of American Food & Drink explains: "Prohibition in 1920 devastated fine-dining restaurants. Until then (as now) the business formula that made restaurants viable relied on a high profit margin on alcohol sales, but other types of restaurants flourished." The Prohibition era brought on the soda fountains and luncheonettes which often took residence in former fine dining restaurant spaces left behind. The leases were cheap and these eateries did not have a need to serve alcohol.
What will you do to celebrate the anniversary of Repeal Day?
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Rise of the Zombie Cocktail
It’s only fitting that the spirit most associated with Summer, celebrates its National holiday at the end of the season. August 16th is National Rum day, and in honor of it, we’re sharing some great recipes we’ve received, tried, and liked over the past few months. When I think of rum, the first thing that comes to mind is Tiki drinks. You know, those strong rum concoctions mixing multiple rums and being served in a Polynesian cup with or without the nice umbrella. Hurricanes, Mai Tais, Zombies: these are some of my favorites, because when done properly, they have amazing flavor, pack a huge punch, and will have your mind in vacation mode in a matter of no time whether you’re actually on vacay or not.
We attended Tales of the Cocktail last month, and one of our favorite seminars was entitled “Rise of the Zombie: Tiki’s Deadly Drink. It was quite a show. This event, hosted by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Ian Burrell and Steve Remsberg took us through the 10 year journey Mr. Beachbum took tracking down the original lost recipe for the Zombie cocktail. Why would any man spend that much time searching for cocktail recipe? Well when you have a drink, or genre of drinks has as much history, myths, and hype as the zombie and it’s relatives do, you might be interested in tasting the real thing too.
“From the end of Prohibition to the dawn of Disco, the Zombie was the world’s most famous drink. It kick-started the whole Tiki craze, and put Don The Beachcomber’s Hollywood bar on the map. Inventor Donn Beach kept his original 1934 recipe a closely guarded secret — and when the Jeff finally found it, the recipe was in code! While sipping samples of vintage Zombie recipes, you’ll learn why this legendary drink was the toast of the Hollywood movie crowd, and hear the true-life detective story behind how the recipe’s secret code was cracked.”
So you see, it’s kind of a big deal. The truth is there wasn’t just one recipe, there were multiple, two of which are specifically credited as being the real deal The 1934 Zombie and the 1950 Zombie. Tiki drinks were the talk of the town so the drinks creator, Don the “Beach Comber” had to deal with people stealing his recipes, bartenders profiting off his recipes and going to other establishments, etc etc. So things got mixed up, botched, coded, it was a mess. It was pretty crazy, and that’s why we have Jeff Berry to thank, because it won’t take us 10 years to find and try the real deal, we tasted them at Tales. In honor of us getting to taste the “real Mccoy”, we wanted to share the recipes with you to try at home. Keep in mind, these recipes are carefully crafted using specific measurements and styles of juice/rums. If you want to taste the real thing, use the ingredients listed below.
Zombie Punch (1934)
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz Don’s Mix
- 1/2 oz falernum
- 1 1/2 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
- 1 1/2 oz aged Jamaican rum
- (such as Appleton Extra)
- 1 oz 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara rum
- (no substitution)
- Dash Angostura bitters
- 6 drops (1/8 teaspoon) Pernod
- 1 teaspoon real pomegranate grenadine ( i use homemade hibiscus grenadine)
- 6 oz (3/4 cup) crushed ice.
Combine your ingredients in a blender. Blend for about 5 seconds on high and then pour into a tall glass. Add ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 oz passion fruit syrup
- 1 oz white Puerto Rican rum
- 1 oz gold Puerto Rican rum
- 1 oz 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara rum
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Dissolve your sugar in lemon and/or lime juice. Shake your ingredients together with crushed ice and pout into your glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.
So, the next time someone asks you what a real zombie cocktail tastes like or what the original zombie cocktail recipe was, you can now proudly answer them correctly.
Prohibition Cocktails: The Literature of Libations
December 5—also known as Repeal Day—marks the end of Prohibition back in 1933.
Mark Twain’s observation “It is the prohibition that makes anything precious” simply doesn’t apply to alcohol anymore. These days it probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to find a selection of craft cocktails on the menu at a Chili’s.
One thing from the bygone era of Prohibition that does remain rare is its literature. Beverage enthusiast Steve Jaffe is doing his part to preserve a record of this significant cultural moment in our country’s history, 1920–33.
Tucked in a quiet neighborhood in the east end of Ventura, Jaffe’s home has a small room dedicated to a collection of rare and scarce cocktail recipe books from the Prohibition era. To learn more, I spent an afternoon in his company.
The first book he showed me, Mamma’s Recipes for Keeping Papa Home, dates from 1901 and focuses on one significant factor that led to Prohibition. Compliments of M.H. Cobe & Co., a Massachusetts-based liquor importer and bottler, this advertising booklet addressed the angst of women whose husbands had abandoned them for saloons, one factor that fueled the Temperance movement. “If the within instructions are strictly adhered to, success will necessarily follow,” states the back cover.
Despite the creativity of the tactic, it wasn’t enough to stem the tide 19 years later Prohibition began.
Cocktail literature now turned to preserving the knowledge that bartending professionals feared would be lost forever, as many among their ranks fled abroad to continue to work. Albert A. Hopkins’ Home Made Beverages is one such example Jaffe notes that it has been cited by several collectors as the last book published by a major publisher before Prohibition took effect.
Jaffe’s copy—purchased on eBay for $5 (including shipping)—is well worn, but there’s real treasure tucked inside, from Prohibition-related newspaper clippings to a recipe for an apricot and raisin wine—made with sugar, yeast and water and fermented for two weeks—typed up on “Bureau of Internal Revenue Office of Special Agent” letterhead.
“You can just the feel the life that the previous owners had,” says Jaffe, who is restaurant manager of Ojai Ranch House and relishes this volume in his collection as much as those in mint condition.
During Prohibition, citizens in small towns and rural areas who were after a drink turned to home brews, whether from a Special Agent’s recipe, a neighbor’s basement still or a wine brick—a block of grape concentrate that conveniently featured instructions for what not to do with it, namely dilute it and leave in a cupboard to ferment.
In big cities, affluent residents had easy access to cocktails in speakeasies. As an aside, America became the world’s largest importer of cocktail shakers during Prohibition.
Still, precautions were taken. Herbs, honey and fruit juice were used to mask the smell of alcohol—and the taste of bathtub gin. High-end New York restaurants took the masquerade one step further, serving cocktails in teacups to regular patrons.
During Prohibition, publishers of cocktail books employed similar creativity in how they distributed their material. Handing me a slim volume covered in faux snakeskin, Jaffe explains that Good Cheer was a pre-Prohibition cocktail handbook rebound during Prohibition to look like an instruction manual, helpfully retitled For Snakebites—Or Something.
I left Jaffe’s library eager to put my Prohibition-era book learning into practice and headed to Sly’s in Carpinteria. Its menu lists each cocktail with the year of its invention, revealing that the Negroni, Bloody Mary, Gimlet, White Lady, Hemingway “Papa Doble” Daiquiri and the reputed hangover cure Corpse Reviver #2 all first came to life during the Prohibition era.
Chris Chinn, Sly’s bar manager, describes Prohibition-era cocktails as being characterized by simplicity—no more than four to five ingredients per drink—and booze. “Most have an aromatic ingredient like Angostura Bitters, Campari or the base spirit of the cocktail itself, usually gin.”
“Bitters were prescribed as medicine during Prohibition and they have a high alcohol content . easy to see how they landed in so many drinks.”
Not wanting to need a Corpse Reviver #2 the next day, I limited myself to a White Lady and a Gimlet, both variations of gin and citrus juice. Fresh from my education at the hands of Jaffe and Chinn, I could taste a fabled era of American history with every sip.
Did You Know?
During Prohibition, pharmacists could legally dole out whiskey by prescription for everything from anxiety to influenza. Bootleggers realized the opportunity, and, not surprisingly, the number of registered pharmacists in New York State tripled
Source: Prohibition: Unintended Consequences, PBS.org
During Prohibition, attendance rose at churches and synagogues because wine was allowed for religious purposes.
Today marks the 80th Anniversary of the implementation of the 21st Amendment, also known as Repeal Day (for repealing the disastrous 18th Amendment, which went into effect on January 17, 1920). Make sure you enjoy a tipple today to celebrate!
Prohibition was a dark period in America. It pitted recent immigrants against Americans who had been in the country for generations and rural areas against urban. Hypocritical politicians voted dry and drank very wet. I guess it’s like today where members of Congress get to engage in insider trading and no-one else does. No-one expected that Prohibition would last for over 13 years. But, last it did.
In those 13 years, entire industries were destroyed. The nascent American wine industry was destroyed and didn’t start it’s second rise until the 1960’s. It’s only today that America is finally returning to where it was pre-Prohibition. The impact on American Bourbon and Irish Whiskey distillers was devastating. It’s little known that Irish Whiskey was one of the most popular spirits in the United States prior to Prohibition (and Irish Whiskey was dealt a one-two-three blow with World War I, Prohibition in the United States and then the war for Irish independence). Prohibition pretty much put most distillers in the United States and a far number in Ireland out of business. And, the same fates befell most breweries as well.
Not only did Prohibition change how alcohol was produced, it changed how we drank. The speakeasies that sprang up during Prohibition were really the first places to integrate women into drinking establishments. While cocktails were popular prior to Prohibition, they became ever more popular and inventive in the speakeasies to mask the poor quality of the bootleg alcohol that most served. And, the popularity of cocktails spread around the globe with the diaspora of American mixologists, seeking work elsewhere. Among others, London, Paris and Cuba benefited greatly from this diaspora and the hordes of thirsty Americans that followed on their drinking holidays.
Today, we are happy to report that the industry has finally rebounded from Prohibition, although it has taken us almost 100 years. The variety and quality of spirits is unbelievable. The American wine industry is on fire, expanding across the country with a dizzying array of selection. Breweries have rebounded and the number of micro-breweries has risen steadily, making better and better beer. Even cider is having a renaissance. Mixology has made a comeback, both in the amazing cocktails being made and acceptance by society as a profession.
Still, there are still some counties & cities in America where Prohibition is still in effect. The whole State of Mississippi stayed dry until 1966.
After the Repeal
Prohibition caused a significant setback to the wine industry in California. Immediately following its repeal, larger wineries ramped up production to flood the market with a glut of wines that valued quantity over quality. In the meantime, individual states were given complete control over their own alcohol laws, with many opting to remain dry until much later – some counties and municipalities are still dry to this day. The 1960s and 70s brought about a wine renaissance that established California producers as serious contenders on the international stage. Today, each state has the ability to regulate the distribution of alcohol, and interstate commerce makes it easier than ever to enjoy great wines around the country. In fact, there are now wineries located in all 50 states.
Now that you know the story behind prohibition, raise a glass to the drink that made it all worthwhile. Here’s to wine!
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