17 January

Alexander image

Prohibition Goes Live

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One minute after midnight on this day in 1920, the Volstead Act became law and Prohibition descended on the United States, making it illegal to possess, sell or manufacture drinks with significant alcoholic content.

Most saloon keepers, restaurateurs and drinkers had spent the previous night enjoying as much of the good stuff as they could, often surrounded by funereal black crepe hangings, and perhaps with a ritual coffin passing through.

The famous bartender Harry Craddock claimed to have served America's last legal cocktail, at the Holland House, on the stroke of midnight on 16 January, before taking ship, alongside many other talented American bartenders, for Europe. We are marking this day with an Alexander, a cocktail that was hugely popular in the 20s.

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