16 January 2011

16 January - Prohibition

Today in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation (but not the consumption) of alcohol in the United States, had been ratified by 38 states - two more than was necessary to make it into law - and accordingly, one year later in 1920, the Amendment took effect.

(By the way, of the 48 states, only two rejected the Amendment: Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Go, Little Rhody!

The 13-year era that the Amendment was in place is called "Prohibition" and has been celebrated in song and story (and TV shows and movies) as the time of speakeasies and bootleggers, moonshine stills and 'revenooers', rum-runners and the 'Untouchables', Al Capone and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

Individuals could make wine and cider for their own consumption (up to 200 gallons per year), but not beer; companies were forbidden to make anything alcoholic.  Vineyards put their efforts into making grape juice and grape concentrates, with instructions on the labels NOT to put the mixture in a cupboard for 20 days or it would turn into wine. (Gee, we wouldn't want that...

In spite of its good intentions, the government's attempt to legislate morality didn't work - in fact, it made things worse than before.  The 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment in December 1933.

In honor of the day, make Bathtub Gin - set it off to one side, and raise a toast with some good bonded hooch (or not, as the spirits move you).