Repeal of Prohibition not cause to celebrate for everyone

Thu Dec 4, 2008 1:30pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Bars, breweries and beverage companies across the United States plan to mark the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition on Friday but not everyone will be celebrating.

The Back Room, a historic speakeasy in Manhattan, will create martinis with "bathtub" gin on the day. Boston's Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks will be serving Prohibition-era cocktails, including the Income Tax, a mix of gin, vermouth, Angostura bitters and orange juice, though not at Prohibition-era prices.

And in San Francisco they will celebrate the end of the country's dry spell, when the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages was banned, with a parade along Market Street ending in a beer festival at the 21st Amendment Brewery.

But the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) will not be lifting their glasses to toast the occasion.

"The WCTU does not really plan to have any special observance this Friday," said Rita Wort, the president of the national organization founded in 1874 that spearheaded the fight to ban alcohol in the United States during the early part of the 20th Century.

"We believe today that it will need to be a personal choice by individuals to observe and hold fast to a personal prohibition or total abstinence for living," she added in an interview.

From 1920 until its repeal in 1933, the 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of intoxicating liquor nationwide. There were some exceptions to what was called the Noble Experiment -- for sacramental wines and home-made brews -- but it put a stopper in wine and liquor industry.

Thought by its supporters to cure the social ills of husbands spending the rent money in saloons, as well as preventing work-place accidents and cutting crime, prohibition gave rise to speakeasies, the Jazz Age and gangsters like Chicago's Al Capone.   Continued...