A Toast to Prohibition’s End

76 years ago today, the U.S. government repealed the 18th amendment and ratified the 21st, thus ending the country’s official 13-year dry spell. No time like the present, then, to lift a glass to President Franklin Roosevelt, whose platform included Prohibition’s repeal, and to Mrs. Amy Johnson, whose personal effects at her residence in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel during Prohibition included 36 quarts of Old Crow Whiskey, which she was allowed to transport with her, along with plenty of other booze, to her new digs at the Avondale Apartments. Her permit remains on display at the hotel.


My 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, from England, offers plenty of lively choices for your toast. The Absinthe Drip involves “1 liquor glass of Absinthe”, into which is dissolved a lump of sugar. It appears that one is to leave a little room to fill the glass with water, to taste. (Absinthe Restaurant in San Francisco makes these and other fun period cocktails.)

Or you could opt for the Barbary Coast: 1/4 each of Gin, Whiskey, Creme de Cacao, and cream, served over ice in a highball glass. Or the Hanky Panky: 1/2 Italian Vermouth, 1/2 dry Gin and 2 dashes of Fernet Branca (an Italian liqueur, which is still in production), shaken and strained. Then there’s the evocative Havana: 1/2 apricot Brandy, 1/4 dry Gin, 1/4 Swedish punch, and a dash of lemon juice, shaken and strained. Of course, you could choose from any manner of Rickies, Daisies, Toddies, Slings, and Fizzes.

Just be sure to heed the advice the Savoy gives to the “young mixer” : “Drink your cocktail as soon as possible.” And be sure to mention that Joe sent you.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

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