Posts Tagged ‘Prohibition’
Sunday, March 7th, 2010
The city of Arab, Alabama, recently got an unexpected surprise: research by the city’s police chief, Mike Blackwood, found that alcohol related offenses have not risen since 2008, when the town decided to begin allowing sale of spirits. But that’s not all, according to a recent statement from Blackwood that appeared in the Cullman Times online. “We’ve seen about a 6 percent decrease in alcohol-related crimes,” he adds, and though he warns that it’s still fairly early in the game to draw conclusions, “so far the alcohol-related crime is down.”
Additionally, Blackwood says that statistics he collected from other towns in the region who decided to lift bans on the sale of alcohol reported similar drops in violent crime related to alcohol consumption. But perhaps the most interesting facet of Blackwood’s findings has to do with how the number of people drinking and driving through the area has dropped as well.
Friday, February 26th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
It is apparently old news that the United States government poisoned alcohol during prohibition in a bid to stop drinking altogether, but I had not heard of it until reading an article on Slate a couple days ago.
During the 1920′s, at the height of prohibition and the underground world of Speakeasies, some 60 million gallons of industrial alcohol were being stolen each year and re-distilled back into drinkable alcohol. The government had a problem with this, and president Coolidge’s administration decided that drastic measures must be taken to preserve the sanctity of American life. Obviously, the logical decision was to poison industrial alcohol, so that whenever anyone imbibed in it, they would get incredibly sick and possibly die. Some 10,000 people died from these efforts, and possibly many more. Newspapers in Chicago decried the act, calling it barbarous, while the Omaha Bee in Nebraska defended it.
Despite critics vehemently arguing against this tactic, from politicians to medical experts, the government persisted in tainting alcohol supplies until the end of prohibition. Socially speaking, it seemed that the upper class imbibers were not being affected nearly as much by the poison–which included kerosene, gasoline, camphor, formaldehyde, methyl alcohol, carbolic acid and who knows how many others–because they could afford more expensive, smuggled liquor. The primary victim of this insane plot were the poor and lower middle class who were the famous consumers of bathtub gin.
New York City medical examiners knew something was wrong during the Christmas season of 1926, when some 60 violently ill people were admitted to hospitals, of which 23 died. The explanation was chalked up not to alcohol poisoning as they were very accustomed to seeing, but to just plain poisoning. The source was a mystery until word began getting out that it was actually a government mandated operation to solve the drinking problem; During the years of prohibition it is estimated that alcoholism rose by 300%.
The obvious moral question (with an obvious answer, I feel), focuses around the government’s knowledge that this drinking was going on: Knowing that people are using industrial alcohol to consume, is it okay to poison that supply and essentially engage in mass murder in order to stop it?
While it may have been illegal to produce and transport alcohol, it was not illegal to consume it, as many people erroneously believe. Even if it was illegal to consume, does that justify a death sentence?
This was an egregious violation of civil rights and human rights, and I can only hope that sentiments such as these have ceased to exist in this advanced society that we live in.
Here’s hoping, and my drink tonight will be in honor of those victims of an unwarranted, deadly prohibition crackdown.
Sunday, January 24th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
The L.A. Times reports on alcohol crackdowns in Baghdad.
With Saddam Hussein removed as the Dictator in charge of Iraq, hope was sprung for millions of people to enjoy freedoms that were unimaginable up to that point. People cheered, and savvy businessmen opened clubs and bars all around the downtown district of Baghdad. Alcohol flowed freely, and the people of Iraq had a real taste of the west. Unfortunately, militia activity began rising and pushing against alcohol, and many places stopped carrying it for fear of invoking the wrath of the Islamic extremists. Still, many brave business owners continued with the practice of selling alcoholic beverages to their patrons, and they seemed to endure through the hardships of insurgent violence, but even having succeeded in that environment, they are finding an even tougher challenge ahead.
Thursday, October 1st, 2009
The Scottish Brewery BrewDog underwent major criticism from health advocates and alcohol awareness groups this past summer, as they unveiled their new beer, Tokyo*. Tokyo* is Britain’s highest alcohol content beer, at 18.2%, and they were slammed for being irresponsible, by providing a beer with that high of an alcohol content, in a society that is already troubled by alcoholism.
In response to this criticism, BrewDog is launching their newest beer, naming it ‘Nanny State,’ with an ABV of 1.1%. They are very pleased with the production of the drink, which by British law, does not have a high enough alcohol content to even be called beer. They claim that it has more hops per barrel than any other British beer, and they are all hand picked by the brewers as their personal favorites. Richard McLelland, BrewDog’s sales director, had this to say: ”It is an extraordinary little ale, jammed full of all the brewer’s favourite hops, giving it as much body and mouth feel as possible, ensuring that low strength does not translate into reduced flavour.”
Monday, September 21st, 2009
Bartender Angelo Cammarata say’s he’s calling it quits; after more than seventy years serving fine mixed drinks at his bar in West View, PA, he may be the most deserving American to resign from the spirits business.
Known by various nicknames including “Camm” and “Ange,” Angelo has operated Cammarata’s, a two-room bar he shares with his sons John and Frank, for decades. In fact, he and his wife Marietta, 92, apparently lived in the second-floor apartment above it until several years ago.
To Cammarata, his job has been more than just a family business; he considers all his customers to be family. “We call them our family, our friends. We know them all. And they’re all good.”
Cammarata’s story is a fascinating one, if not legendary. For instance, within minutes after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Cammarata (then just 19) served a bottle of Fort Pitt beer to a customer in his father’s grocery store. At the time, a bottle of beer cost only ten cents! Save only a year and a half in service during World War II, he has continued serving patrons ever since, with Guinness World Records giving him the title of “longest-serving bartender” a decade ago, as well as induction into Jim Beam’s Bartender Hall of Fame. For a guy his age, it goes without saying: he’s got a lot of “spirit”.
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
That’s right, Big Brother. Alcoholic indulgence is still a prolific issue in England, and now British doctors are calling for the removal of alcoholic advertisements from television. Sadly, in all likelihood this would do little to ebb the flow of spirits down young people’s throats.
“The move was necessary to challenge Britain’s dangerous drinking culture,” Associated Press reports said Tuesday. In a recent report, The British Medical Association makes the assertion that “a rapid increase in alcohol consumption among young Britons in recent years was being underpinned by ‘clever alcohol advertising’,” as well as the fact that a prohibition on alcohol-related publicity was needed to help turn the situation around.
Although the idea here is only to prohibit the appearance of advertisements (for now), red flags shoot up any time I see the “P word”. Removal of a company’s right to promote their product is a step in the right direction toward ultimately turning Britain into a dry country, although to jump to such conclusions at present may be a bit far off base. Nonetheless, when looking back at the history of Prohibition of alcohol in the United States, we are given some indications of ways that, socially, problems could get far worse if England ever does decide to tighten it’s grip on alcohol consumption.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Recent legislation has introduced tough new anti-smoking laws in the U.S., which now give the federal government sweeping power over how cigarettes are made, packaged, and sold. Recently, President Barack Obama commented that, “Along with legislation to protect credit card owners from unfair rate hikes, homeowners from mortgage fraud and abuse, and taxpayers from wasteful defense spending, this kids tobacco bill would be the fourth piece of bipartisan legislation that I’ve signed into law over the last month that protects the American consumer and changes the way Washington works and who Washington works for.”
Cigarettes displayed for sale
“It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell,” said the president, “and it will allow the scientists at the Food and Drug Administration to take other common sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.” The intention here, I believe, is honest and good. Also, I think that we members of the cultured alcohol elite would all agree that keeping potentially harmful products like cigarettes away from minors, much like preventing underage drinking, is of great merit without question. Still, the notion that the tobacco industry is being handed over to the FDA to be regulated doesn’t sit well, since it evokes the beginnings of something we already know is inherently flawed: Prohibition.
Monday, February 16th, 2009
Today the Associated Press reports that liquor laws, especially those which prohibit sale of spirits on Sundays, may be repealed in an effort to boost individual state economies.
AP writer Brock Vergakis writes, “In Utah, and across the country, governors and lawmakers faced with budget deficits are advocating loosening laws that restrict alcohol consumption in the hopes of boosting tax revenues.” Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota and Texas all plan to end present bans on Sunday liquor sales with hopes of boosting revenue with the day’s worth of sales added to weekly figures.
State governments choosing to capitalize on alcohol sales may never have picked a better time, in spite of the recession, as liquor sales are on the rise just about everywhere. Across the US during the year of 2008, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) reports that sales rose 2.8 percent from 2007 to $18.7 billion in 2008, according to revenues reported by liquor suppliers. For instance, in Perham, Minnesota, the local municipal liquor store saw an increase in sales by nearly a half million dollars during this period; nearly a 33% gain.
Sunday, February 15th, 2009
Yet again, we see that another portion of the United States is reporting liquor sales on the rise, in spite of the looming recession:
Liquor Sales up in Idaho
According to Idaho resident and restaurant owner Dan Willie, “In a recession or in a so-called recession people tend to drink more, and that’s been historically true in the great depression… I don’t know if they are drinking to drown their sorrows or just spending more time in bars and restaurants.” Willie says the bar in his restaurant picked up sales in December, and has maintained steadily ever since.
Yet again, it appears that the business of wine, beer, and spirits may be the ultimate “recession-proof” industry.
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
The general consensus among true drink connoisseurs is (and always has been) that a fine cocktail beverage is a proper blend of a few flavors, not a muddling mixture of too many. Thus, according to such lore from the annals of fine mixology, many weekend barflies may be surprised to learn that one of today’s most popular beverages certainly wouldn’t be considered a “fine cocktail”; the drink in question is none other than the Long Island Iced Tea.
This beverage, since its creation in 1976, has grown to a position of immense popularity, especially among college-age drinkers traditionally around the time of spring break. Modern Drunkard magazine cites it as a beverage which “no matter how old you are, at some level, you’re still afraid your parents are going to catch you drinking,” due to its ability to mask that a cocktail is being consumed at all with its convenient resemblance to non-alcoholic iced tea. But be warned; however much it may look like iced tea, be reminded that it surely isn’t. Sporting a recipe that includes equal parts vodka, gin, tequila, rum and triple sec, the drink is typically higher in alcohol concentration that most beverages (around 28%), and thus has the effect of ridding one of their sobriety more quickly.