AlcoHOLidays | Repeal Day | Good Clean Fun


Good Clean Fun cocktail for Repeal Day, December 5

From 1920 to 1933, the United States was technically dry, minus a few loopholes and a helluva lot of bootleggers.

See, the temperance movement thought that many of society’s ills would be cured if drinking were just outlawed. And even though President Wilson tried to veto it, Congress used their 2/3 vote to overrule him and they signed the 18th Amendment into existence, banning the sale, importation, or exportation of intoxicating spirits throughout the country. For the curious the intoxicating spirit threshold was .5% alcohol.

Now, the funny thing about number 18 was that it didn’t make consuming alcohol illegal, just the making, buying, and selling. So folks in the know stocked up big-time before the Volstead Act took effect on January 16, 1920. And even the making of spirits wasn’t completed forbidden–individuals could brew fruit-based wines and ciders for personal consumption and vineyards took to selling grape concentrates to facilitate just those measures with packaging that told folks exactly what not to do if they didn’t want their reconstituted grape juice to ferment. Wink wink.

Of course the hope that banning alcohol would immediately dissuade folks towards drinking backfired spectacularly. To many the law made absolutely no sense and it ruined a lot of faith in both the government and the police forces tasked with enforcing the new law. And then there was the not-so-small matter of the government losing out on all that taxable revenue now that all sales were under the table.

It took 13 years for folks to see the light. Thirteen years of bootleggers, speakeasies, and increased crime rates (instead of the hoped-for lessening). Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, by the ratification of the 21st Amendment.

Good Clean Fun

1 sugar cube
Angostura Bitters
1 3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Limoncello
strips of citrus zest for garnish

Drip enough drops of the bitters onto the sugar cube to “soak” it and place it in the bottom of a low-ball or small cocktail glass. Combine the gin and limoncello over ice and stir until thoroughly chilled (10 to 15 turns should do it). Strain the chilled alcohol over the  sugar cube and add a couple strips of citrus zest to the drink, swirling it to start the sugar dissolving.

Soaking a sugar cube in bitters is a long-standing tradition of blending the savory and the sweet in drinks. And while cocktails were around two decades before the U.S. tried their little “Noble Experiment”, the trend to drink good alcohol neat was problematic when you were dealing with the low-quality and sometimes dangerous concoctions that served for spirits in speakeasies, hence the many mixers of Prohibition-era cocktials.

The term bathtub gin refers to grain alcohol flavored with various items (like juniper) and topped off with water from the bathtub spigot (as the bottles were apparently too tall to fit easily under the kitchen faucet)–so the story goes. In this cocktail I use gin as an homage to those dark days but pick a good one. Limoncello, while not tied to Prohibition per se, appealed to me in the vein of making lemonade out of lemons. Limoncello make take longer (though not 13 years, thank goodness), but it’s certainly tasty.

We all know full well that drinking without discretion or moderation can lead to some very bad things. Anything from bad choices of who to go home with to DUI-accidents to diseases of various sorts can befall someone who drinks too much or too often (or both). But a well-made cocktail really is, in my opinion, good clean fun.


50 Shots of America–Massachusetts


In 2005 I took my first plane ride ever up to Plymouth, Mass., to learn the new accounting system my company purchased. (Actually, we flew into Boston–late–and drove to Plymouth by way of Rhode Island… whoops!) At any rate, we didn’t get a chance to do much sight-seeing (one of these days I *will* visit Salem) but we did make it into town to see Plymouth Rock.

Or, you know, what’s left of it.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to gaze on this pebble of our Nation’s history (we’re talking about the site of the second permanent English settlement in North America, after all) let me break it down for you:

It’s a rock. In a cage.

After years of being gouged at and dragged around town the powers that be put what was left of the bit of glacial rock (1/3rd of it’s original size, by then) back where it came from, on the beach, surrounded by a promenade and covered by a portico. You walk up and look down. At a rock in a cage (there are gratings–bars–that allow sea water into the enclosure and back out again).

But, you know, it works. At least they don’t charge you to see it, otherwise it’d be like paying a dollar at the fair to see the world’s smallest horse.

Which brings me to this week’s beverage:

Rockin’ Tea Party

1 oz strong-brewed Tea
1 oz Cranberry Juice
.5 oz Gin
1 Sugar Cube

Combine the tea, juice and gin in a shaker over ice and shake vigorously. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of the shot or cordial glass and strain the mixture over it.

In this little sipper we have several facets of Massachusetts represented: Plymouth Rock, of course, by the sugar cube, tea for the 1773 Boston Tea Party–one of many early actions in MA that spurred us into the American Revolution, cranberry juice for it being the 2nd largest cranberry-producing state and gin for it’s part in the temperance movement.

Oh, yes, there’s some irony in creating a cocktail for the state that is directly responsible for Prohibition and, therefore, “bathtub” gin. But all’s well that ends well, and Prohibition definitely didn’t last.

Other things Massachusetts is responsible for? Check out the short list:

  • the Presidential families of Adams and Kennedy
  • Transcendentalists Thoreau and Emerson
  • the Telephone, 1876
  • Johnny Appleseed and a whole host of cider-apple trees
  • Volleyball, 1895
  • the first Subway system in the US, 1897
  • Birth Control Pill, 1954
  • Vulcanized Rubber, 1839
  • Sewing Machine, 1845