Thursday, December 5th marks the 80th anniversary of the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition in the U.S. and "Repeal Day," has become a more mainstream celebration than ever. Long a seasonal marker for bartenders and cocktail afficionados, a sort of winter ritual nestled between Thanksgiving gluttony and Christmas avarice, Repeal Day is these days being shared with the public by bars, restaurants and alcohol brands around the country. Here are a few ways to drink in the fun around the country:
$1 Repeal Day Cocktails at 1933 Group Bars LA: Thirsty revelers in Los Angeles will be pleased to know that six bars owned by 1933 Group are celebrating the demise of the "Great Experiment" each with a special $1 Repeal Day cocktail (limit: 2 per customer). Among the locations: The Thirsty Crow, Oldfield's Liquor Room, Bigfoot Lodge, Sassafras Salon (serving the Blackstrap Old Fashioned), Bigfoot West and La Cuevita.
The Village Voice Holiday Spirits Tasting Event NYC: Brilliantly landing on Repeal Day, the annual tasting event, features over 25 regional distilleries and wineries, winter-themed cocktails, live music and more. This year the event lands at mega beer garden Studio Square in Astoria, Queens from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $50 each ($70 VIP tix get you an extra hour's admission at 6:30 and a free wine tote).
Repeal Day Ball, Washington D.C.: The annual Repeal Day Ball descends on the nation's capitol again this year (on December 7), complete with fancy costumes and twirly mustaches. Hosted by the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild, the posh event takes place in the cavernous Old Navy Hospital, and features cocktails from local luminaries, including Frank Jones (The Gibson) and Chantal Tseng (Mockingbird Hill). Tickets are $100, with a $150 VIP ticket scoring you an extra hour of old-timey revelry.
Chicken Cock Whiskey Tribute Video: Yes, there's a whiskey called Chicken Cock. Why wouldn't there be? The South Carolina-based distillery (which actually dates back to 1856) has been revived recently following a devastating 1950s fire, and is now pumping out flavored whiskies like cinnamon, Southern spiced and root beer. In honor of Repeal Day, the brand has posted a series of short old-timey looking videos offering up several ways to enjoy its products.
Liquor.com Cocktail Recipes: DrinkWire / Liquor.com has a great page up right now aggregating era-appropriate cocktail recipes from around the web, like the Oriental (rye, vermouth, curaçao, lime juice) and the Tea-totaller (bergamot black tea, gin, honey, cardamom bitters). There's some great historical reading on this page as well.
New York Distilling Company 2nd Anniversary Party NYC: Brooklyn's New York Distilling Company, producers of Dorothy Parker American Gin, Perry's Tot Navy Strength and Chief Gowanus New-Netherland Gin is throwing a "swinging" party on December 5. The event celebrates both Repeal Day and NYDC's second anniversary. The distillery's adjacent cocktail bar, The Shanty, will be offering up $2 Dorothy Parker Martinis from 6 - 7 p.m., and cocktails featuring the company's 2-year-old Rye Whiskey. Free small bites, cheeses, cured meats and pickles will be available throughout the night, along with the regular full bar and cocktail menu.
DISCUS Prohibition Repeal Infographic: The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS), a lobbying and awareness group for the acohol industry, has published an awesome infographic on the impact, influence and history of Prohibition and Repeal. From exploring terms like "Bathtub Gin" and "Blue Laws" (religously or morally influenced legislation covering things like the playing of sports or drinking of alcohol on Sundays), the graph gives a quick state-by-state look at the ongoing influence of the Volstead Act and 18th Amendment, despite the repeal. Did you know the Prohibition Party continued to be active in Indiana for four decades after Repeal (or that it's the only state in the country where the sale of wine, beer and spirits on Sundays is still prohibited throughout the state)? Discus.org
Repeal Day Soiree Denver: Denver is a craft cocktail hub of the highest order, and there are several events going on around the Mile High City. At Colt and Gray and at its new sister bar/eatery Ste Elle, the focus is on honoring American men and women in the hospitality industry who fled to Cuba to practice their craft, and in doing so discovered a whole new realm of rum and drinks. Thursday, December 5th from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Repeal Day Bash, Clover Club, NYC: Julie Reiner's iconic Brooklyn craft cocktail spot is throwing an early Repeal Day bash on December 4. Classic cocktails will be flowing, the bar's full food and drink menu is available, and guests can Charleston and Jitterbug to the dulcet sounds of Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra.
Batch 19 Prohibition Beer: It wasn't just hard spirits: Most beer and wine was also illegal during Prohibition. Now, MillerCoors announced it is releasing Batch 19 beer with a significant amount of signage celebrating Repeal Day. The company says the recipe is based on an actual pre-Prohibition recipe.
Autumn Old Fashioned
(from Sidebar, San Francisco)
- 1 oz Wild Turkey 81 Rye
- 3/4 oz Applejack
- 1/4 oz Nocino (walnut liqueur)
- 1 bar spoon Grade B Maple Syrup
- 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir well and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube.
(From Midnight Moon)
- 1 1/2 oz Midnight Moon Cranberry
- 3/4 oz Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
- 1 tsp. Superfine Sugar
- 3 oz Apple Juice
- 1/4 oz Lemon Juice
- 1 oz Ginger Beer
Muddle cranberries and sugar in a highball glass. Fill with ice, add moonshine, cranberries, apple and lemon juice. Stir well, and top with ginger beer.
Thirsty for more? Check out National Spirits Examiner or NY Drinks Examiner.
Do you have a cocktail trend, new product, bar or teahouse you'd like me to review? Want to give me a heads-up on your favorite hot spot? Please email me at NYDrinksExaminer AT gmail.com. Or follow me on Twitter @roberthp.
FTC Disclaimer: The author sometimes receives product samples for review, which carry no cash value and cannot be re-sold, and sometimes attends press events such as lunches or cocktail parties, designed to promote a given product. The author is not paid by any alcohol manufacturer, retailer or distributor, or provided compensation apart from revenue from an assigning publishing company for editorial publication. Opinions are the author's own. By the way, you should be 21 or older to read this page. Author received no comps or samples in connection with this story. He will, however, be wearing his "Repeal the 18th Amendment" button on December 5th.