Happy Repeal Day! Let's Celebrate with Whiskey Cocktails - The Whiskey Wash

Happy Repeal Day! Let’s Celebrate with Whiskey Cocktails

Raise your glasses—it’s Repeal Day! On this day in 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the great experiment of national Prohibition and returning booze to the United States.

The final nail in national Prohibition’s coffin was driven in by, of all states, Utah (not exactly the first state that comes to mind when I think of revelry), which was the 36th state to ratify the amendment. (Amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of the states, and back in 1933, Alaska and Hawaii were still territories, not full-fledged states.)

While Prohibition ended for good on December 5th, the journey towards Repeal was a relatively long one. Earlier in the year, FDR had signed the Beer-Wine Revenue Act, the first step towards ending Prohibition, which made legal (and, of course, taxed) beverages containing no more than 3.2% alcohol as well as “light wines.” After signing, he famously told viewers “I think this would be a good time for beer.”

After that, Congress was emboldened to propose the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment prohibiting the production, transport, or sale of alcohol in the United States. By late 1933, despite the continued effort of the temperance movement, the 21st Amendment had acquired all the support it needed, and national Prohibition was over. The only state that rejected the Amendment outright was South Carolina.

Repeal was greeted with relief, if not outright jubilance. FDR called it “a return to individual freedom,” and drinkers thronged to newly opened bars with almost no legal liquor yet ready to sell. Yet temperance advocates’ fears of unruly, drunken mobs seemed misplaced: the front page of the New York Times from December 6th, 1933, read “CELEBRATION IN STREETS—Marked by Absence of Undue Hilarity and Only Normal Number of Arrests.”

If that doesn’t call for a cocktail in celebration, I don’t know what does. Here are two appropriately celebratory vintage-inspired options from Camille Cavan at Portland’s excellent Quaintrelle restaurant and bar:

Comme il faut 
1/4 oz Gomme syrup
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, stir, and strain over a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange and cherry, if desired.
Darius The Great
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz agave syrup
Pinch of Maldon’s Sea salt
Build in a shaker over ice. Shake, then strain on to a large cube. If you’re feeling fancy, add a single drop of Laphroaig (or a spritz, if you’re the kind of home bartender with an aromatizer) as a garnish.
About the author

Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Spirited Magazine, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Capital Press, In Good Tilth, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Portrait Magazine, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is the former managing editor of Edible Portland, as well as the cofounder and former managing editor of The Whiskey Wash. In 2017, Margarett won the Alan Lodge Young Drinks Writer of the Year award. She received a fellowship for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in 2017 and 2019. When she’s not reporting stories, Margarett likes helping people use words to make interesting things happen in the world. She consults on communications and marketing projects, helps organizations raise money, and writes commercial and advertising copy for companies and brands with stories to tell. www.margarettwaterbury.com @margarett_maria