Tomorrow is the 76th anniversary of Repeal Day, the day that Prohibition ended in 1933 with the 36th vote from Utah (yes, Utah) to repeal the 18th Amendment. For cocktailians, it’s an actual holiday, a day to raise a glass and toast our freedom to drink in places other than speakeasies. Many NYC bar industry types are headed to Washington, D.C., where a 2nd Annual Repeal Day Ball is being put on by the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild at PS7. Tickets for the black-tie event start at $100, and guests will get to clink glasses with Dale DeGroff and Portland, Ore., mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
If you’re going, head down early for author Garrett Peck’s Temperance Tour, which visits all of the Prohibition-related sites in the capital. Garrett knows his stuff–his book, The Prohibition Hangover, is a thoroughly-researched look at how America’s attitude towards drinking has changed from the days of the Anti-Saloon League to today’s $189 billion drinking culture. I sat down with Garrett last month when I was in D.C. for a drink at Bourbon, and we chatted about his writing process.
Garrett got the idea for his book during Christmas of 2003, when he opened a bottle of burgundy to drink with his mother and grandmother. His grandmother, born in 1913, was of a generation that still stigmatized alcohol use, and she refused to have a sip. Meanwhile, Garrett and his mother are both social drinkers and collect wine. This got Garrett thinking about the shift in cultural mores towards acceptance of alcohol following Repeal.
Since all of the alcohol industry lobby groups are in D.C., Garrett was able to interview industry insiders and activists, as well as research historical legal documents. He also traveled across the country, from California wine country to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to craft beer breweries in Pennsylvania and New England, among other boozy locales. Garrett finds that while two-thirds of Americans drink, the debate over how much to drink and at what age to start drinking is still a hot issue. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to hear Garrett’s arguments for lowering the drinking age to 18 to combat binge drinking, and make your own conclusions.
Garrett’s Temperance Tour starts at noon at the Cogswell Temperance Fountain at the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro station on the green/yellow line, and you’ll need a Metro (subway) card. The tour should finish by 3 p.m., so you’ll have plenty of time to get dolled up for the ball that evening, or grab an early drink and start celebrating.