What would you do if your craft was outlawed?
The 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act prohibited the sale, manufacture, and distribution of alcohol in the United States from 1920 to 1933. Intended to curb the abuse of alcohol and the resulting domestic troubles, Prohibition caused more harm than good, contributing to a rise in organized crime and other criminal behaviors associated with the illicit production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol (not mention that bootleg liquor was often of extremely poor quality, sometimes to the point of being hazardous to one’s health). Prohibition is a perfect example of an experiment whose consequences were not sufficiently considered prior to enactment.
One of the consequences of Prohibition was that it became illegal for bartenders to practice their trade. The great bartenders, artists of their craft, could no longer create their art. Many of them expatriated to Europe or to Cuba where they could continue to make drinks and do what they did best. The art of drink languished terribly in the US (where it was born, I might add), and it didn’t really start to thrive again until the relatively recent resurgence of interest in classic and craft cocktails.
If your chosen medium was suddenly, misguidedly outlawed, what would you do? Would you move to another country where you could practice your art freely? Would you change to a different medium to skirt the law? Would you create your art in secret? Would you fight to change the system?
Today, December 5th, is the 78th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment and the repeal of Prohibition. If you’re of legal age, I encourage you to celebrate Repeal Day by exercising your right to have a drink. Not sure what to have? Try this simple, elegant pre-Prohibition beauty:
- Place a sugar cube in a champagne flute.
- Soak the cube with a couple dashes of Angostura bitters.
- Fill the flute with champagne or other sparkling wine.
An “amuse-bouche” (which literally translates to “mouth-amuser”) is a complimentary morsel to start the meal, a tasty little gift from the chef. We hope you enjoy these edible–and drinkable!–tidbits.