December 5: Repeal Day!

repeal_day_flash“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” -Benjamin Franklin

Friends, does the world seem a little brighter today? Despite the stress of the holiday season, do people perhaps seem a little happier? Most importantly, does the taste of liquor seem a little sweeter? Well, there’s a simple explanation for all of that. Namely, today is Repeal Day, the 80th anniversary of the passing of the 21st Amendment and the repeal of Prohibition.

During the early years of Prohibition, it was pretty obvious to just about anybody who was paying attention that Prohibition was a failure. However, Wayne Wheeler and his Anti-Saloon League still held significant power over American politicians, so there was no hope to end the scourge of “Noble Experiment.” However, as the years went by, more and more people began to realize just how bad things really were. Not only had Prohibition led to more law breaking, but people were still finding ways to buy booze. Even worse, the U. S. government wasn’t making any money off that ill gotten hooch, and after the Great Depression hit, America needed those tax dollars!

So, a movement to end Prohibition began. The Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform was created to act as opposition to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Even many prominent Americans, like John D. Rockefeller, who initially supported Prohibition donated money to the repeal movement. In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt ran on a campaign platform that included the repeal of Prohibition.

On February 20, 1933, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment, which upon ratification would end Prohibition immediately. While America waited for repeal, Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, which authorized the sale of 3.2% beer, the alcohol content of which was considered to be too low to be intoxicating. Americans were happy to have their beer back, and soon after bars and pubs began to reopen. On April 10, Michigan voted for repeal, making it the first of the 36 states required to end Prohibition. Over the next eight months, a further 35 states ratified the 21st Amendment, with Utah being the state that officially re-legalized liquor. President Roosevelt celebrated that evening by mixing one of his famed Martinis.

So, why celebrate Repeal Day? Because unlike holidays like St. Patrick’s and Cinco de Mayo that have been turned into excuses to get sloshed, this is a holiday that alcohol actually played a role in the creation of. Plus Repeal Day is the only American holiday actually celebrating one of our constitutional rights. Remember, it is your patriotic duty to go out tonight and raise a glass to the American heroes who fought Prohibition and helped restore the country’s right to enjoy a nice drink!

Really, every alcoholic beverage from apple cider to Zima is an appropriate choice for Repeal Day, but I thought it would be appropriate to drink a cocktail that had a direct tie to Prohibition. When Prohibition started, alcohol was not allowed within three miles of American shores. When legendary American barman Harry Craddock, who by this point had exiled himself in Paris, learned of this law, he knew there was only one thing to do; mock it. Thus, the Three Miler was born. It’s a slightly sweet cocktail that balances cognac and rum with lemon juice and grenadine.

Three Miler

  • 2 ounces Cognac
  • 1 ounce White Rum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grenadine
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Tomorrow: The Knowledge.

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