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The Prohibition, sometimes called the “Great Experiment”, is an odd event in history. Alcohol has been featured as part of human culture for longer than we’ve been measuring time. It’s been used as both medicine and antiseptic and as a safe drink when Cholera or Typhoid was rampant. It has huge religious significance, despite what the temperance movement of the day may have said. After all did not Jesus share around wine at the last supper? And did not The Good Samaritan sterilise the man’s wounds with a mixture of oil and wine?

I find it difficult to grasp the idea that Alcohol is unholy, after all, the most lethal of alcoholic concoctions tend to come from groups of monks with too many herbs and too much time on their hands (the Carthusians or Benedictines for example). The Prohibition of alcohol is something I have never quite understood as a Brit. In fact prohibition in all its forms has always confused me; since by prohibiting something you take all the power away from the state and give it to criminals. Suddenly a whole industry is placed into the hands of people who would exploit it, free from tax and free from quality control.

The simple fact of the matter is that the black market and the fight for its control gave rise to a whole new breed of gangster, forged in blood. These gangsters played for high stakes, and whenever money is involved corruption surely followed. Dirty politics and corrupt officials were rampant, and as a result the effectiveness of the Prohibition suffered. Perhaps more importantly gangsters like Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, Bugs Moran and John Dillinger left behind a legacy that was glorified by pop-culture. TV Icons such as Scarface wielded more influence than any politician and were idolised as anti-heroes. I think this idolatry has played a significant role in modern gangs and the escalation of violence seen all over the world.

Let’s turn now to Cocktails and Mixology. For the years leading up to the Prohibition, America was renowned for being the forerunner in the mixology scene. Pre-192http://1b4http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegd7834cd36cb17272-d318e241556db478f2443eab8244ec1http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg.r48.cf2.rackcdn.com/http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegb9f9c22fa2dhttp://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegf4fa2a6e64f96afac18http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg395c4be.jpeg American bartenders had a flare and passion lightly drizzled over indomitable perseverance that allowed them to crave a name for themselves. That is not to say that American bartenders have lost their skill, but in the words of David Wondrich “By 192http://1b4http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegd7834cd36cb17272-d318e241556db478f2443eab8244ec1http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg.r48.cf2.rackcdn.com/http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegb9f9c22fa2dhttp://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegf4fa2a6e64f96afac18http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg395c4be.jpeg, just about every technique and major ingredient known to modern mixology was in play”. Who knows how soon we would have started the use of infusions, foams, gels or vapours had the masters of the art not been inhibited by bureaucracy.

I expect that icons such as Jerry Thomas would have given up their art had they seen the diverse liquor, fresh squeezed fruit and hand cut ice replaced by knock-off whiskey unceremoniously dumped into a melancholy glass with a splash of juice. As the style and innovation of mixology was crushed beneath the iron heel of prohibition, more and more bartenders found themselves unemployed and seeking other work. With the idea of a cocktail book or even a written recipe being unusual there is no telling how many secrets were lost when those bartenders gave up their shakers.

And so today we celebrate the repeal of the Prohibition, we can look back with our 2http://1b4http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegd7834cd36cb17272-d318e241556db478f2443eab8244ec1http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg.r48.cf2.rackcdn.com/http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegb9f9c22fa2dhttp://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegf4fa2a6e64f96afac18http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg395c4be.jpeg/2http://1b4http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegd7834cd36cb17272-d318e241556db478f2443eab8244ec1http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg.r48.cf2.rackcdn.com/http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegb9f9c22fa2dhttp://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegf4fa2a6e64f96afac18http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg395c4be.jpeg hindsight and see the huge impact it has had on society and culture. But can we use this repeal day to learn? After 8http://1b4http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegd7834cd36cb17272-d318e241556db478f2443eab8244ec1http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg.r48.cf2.rackcdn.com/http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegb9f9c22fa2dhttp://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpegf4fa2a6e64f96afac18http://cdna.tid.al/0b9f9c22fa2d0f4fa2a6e64f96afac180395c4be.jpeg395c4be.jpeg years we have dealt and are dealing with many prohibitions; Apartheid prohibiting black rights in South Africa, hijab laws prohibiting women from dressing freely or laws prohibiting same sex marriage. Of course I am not suggesting everything be legalised, but i am suggesting that prohibition affects society and our future in ways that cannot be predicted.

"The French 75"

Shake well with cracked ice:

1 ½ oz Beefeater London Dry Gin
½ oz Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
¾ oz Simple syrup

Strain into highball glass full of cracked ice and top off with chilled champagne. Or into a flute with no ice if your feeling especially decadent this repeal day!

Garnish with a Lemon twist.

The French 75 (named after a World War I artillery piece) is a classic cocktail invented during the Prohibition.

Recipe courtesy of David Wondrich at Prohibitionrepeal.com http://www.prohibitionrepeal.com/history…

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