Would the roaring ’20s really have roared if it were not for Prohibition? The echoes of this era still reverberate in our cultural memory, and at the heart of this vibrant time was the pivotal moment in American history that not only outlawed the sale of alcohol, but also set the stage for a clandestine world of rebellion and creativity.
Prohibition officially began at midnight on January 17, 1920, with the implementation of the Volstead Act. The dry spell was intended to quell the social ills associated with alcohol consumption – but instead, it birthed a lively underground culture fueled by bootlegging. This illegal production and distribution of liquor became a widespread practice, as the federal government did not have the means, or desire, to try to enforce every border, lake, river, and speakeasy in America.
The speakeasy was one of the most iconic symbols of the Prohibition era – hidden saloons where patrons whispered secret words through a discreet opening in doors to gain entry. Far from being exclusive to the common folk, even government officials would secretly frequent these covert establishments, often with their own private booths! To further avoid detection, cocktails were oftentimes served in teacups, adding a layer of disguise to the rebellion.
It was during this era that the roots of mixology began to blossom. Bartenders, faced with the challenge of masking the harsh taste of poor-quality liquor, experimented with creative concoctions that laid the foundation for modern cocktail culture. Secret saloons with unknown musicians ushered in the age of jazz. Women stepped into newfound roles, becoming some of the first to drive cars, secure jobs, and engage in social activities in public settings. The spirit of rebellion manifested itself not only in hidden saloons, but in societal norms being challenged and reshaped.
As Prohibition agents attempted to crack down on the illicit activities, people found creative and clever ways to skirt the law. Hip flasks, hollowed canes, false books, and the like became tools of evasion, allowing people to carry a bit of rebellion wherever they went.
Interestingly, the Volstead Act included a much-exploited loophole that allowed doctors to prescribe “medicinal” alcohol to those in need. Bourbon, a favored spirit, often found its way into these prescriptions.
So, this January in the roaring 2020s, follow tradition and take the “Doctor’s Orders.” Let us raise a glass to the resilience, creativity, and rebellious spirit that defined an era, making the roaring ’20s truly roar.
– 1 ounce bourbon
– ¾ ounce dry curacao
– ¾ ounce amaretto
– ½ ounce simple syrup
– Muddled blackberry
Mix together the bourbon, dry curacao, amaretto, and simple syrup. Pour over ice, garnish with the blackberry and lime, serve, and enjoy. Cheers!
Owner of Broadsides & Brews, located at 223 S. White Street in Downtown Wake Forest. Follow on social media @broadsidesandbrews.