The “Noble Experiment” – US Prohibition – came to an end on this day in 1933 when the House of Representatives passed the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, a date now celebrated as Repeal Day. Prohibition had flooded the US with bad booze and worse gangsters, empowered the Mafia and cost the government a fortune in tax revenue.
On the flip side, it also brought a grateful nation three great inventions: the booze cruise, first pioneered as a way to drink legally outside US territorial waters; the powder room, a necessity since old-school saloons had no ladies' lavatories; and, of course, the nightclub, which evolved seamlessly from the speakeasy.
Better still, as exiled American drinkers and bartenders explored beyond their shores, Prohibition helped drive a bartending revolution that took place as far afield as Italy and Cuba.
Prohibition, however, proved hard to kill. Mississippi would not repeal Prohibition for another 33 years and even today plenty of Americans have to cross the county line for a legal tipple. Repeal was, however, a sign of good things to come. So we are marking today with an Autumn Leaves, based on rye whiskey, a fine spirit lost for many long years during and after Prohibition. However, you may prefer a Rum Runner cocktail. Named, as we are sure you are aware, for the folk who brought rum across international borders. Or you could celebrate Repeal Day with a Prohibition favourite that was The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald's preferred tipple - the Gin Rickey.