Celebrate Repeal Day With These Classic 1933 Beers and Cocktails
In January 1919, the United States made a big mistake. That was the year in which the Volstead Act (also known as the National Prohibition Act) enacted Prohibition in the country. The 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution aimed to halt the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol, but actually led to bootleggers, speakeasies, various forms of organized crime, and tension in the country.
Luckily, in 1933, public outcry for an end to Prohibition reached a fever pitch. On Dec. 5, 1933, the last state ratified the amendment and America’s ill-fated attempt at Prohibition was finally over. To celebrate our right to booze, drinkers all over the country raise a pint, cocktail, or glass of wine annually on Repeal Day. You can do it, too, and if you want to drink like they did in 1933, you don’t need to make gin in your bathtub or glug down your doctor-prescribed whiskey. You can sip on a variety of beers that are still available today and a handful of Prohibition-era cocktails that have stood the test of time. Check out some of our favorites below.
Cover Photo: Imagno (Getty Images)
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The Old-Fashioned is just like its name sounds. It’s old, with its genesis in 1880. A simple cocktail, you could find this combination of rye (or bourbon), sugar, and angostura bitters at speakeasies and backrooms all over the country.
Photo: Anna Huerta (Getty Images)
The oldest brewery in America, Yuengling has been brewing beer in Pottsville, Pennsylvania since 1829. During Prohibition, the brewery brewed .5 percent ABV “near beers.” Its flagship beer is its well-balanced, rich, malty Yuengling Lager.
Photo:.D..G. Yuengling & Son
Like most cocktails, the origin of the Sidecar is a bit murky. The Ritz in Paris claims to have invented this combination of cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice in 1922. It gained popularity during Prohibition and remains popular to this day.
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In recent years, Shiner Bock has seen a bit of a resurgence. The flagship beer of the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, it’s been brewed since 1913 and is a subtly-hopped dark German-style bock beer.
Photo: Spoetzl Brewery
When it comes to classic drinks, few get classier than the Sazerac. This combination of cognac, absinthe, sugar, and bitters that was created in the 1800s was widely popular during Prohibition and it’s still beloved today.
Photo: Richard T. Nowitz (Getty Images)
Anchor Steam Beer
One of the oldest breweries in the country, the Anchor Brewing Company was founded in 1896. The brewery’s oldest beer, Anchor Steam, was first brewed in 1896 (before being revived in 1965).
Photo: Anchor Brewing
One of the widely consumed forms of alcohol during Prohibition was gin. Easy to make in bathtubs (albeit quite crudely), gin was the base for one of the most popular cocktails during the time period. The gin rickey was made with gin, lime juice, and sparkling water and is still just as refreshing today.
Photo: Bill Boch (Getty Images)
Pabst Blue Ribbon
While known as the official beer of old dudes and hipsters alike, Pabst Blue Ribbon was first introduced way back in 1844. During Prohibition, the brewery switched to cheese production before returning to this classic beer after Repeal Day.
Photo: Pabst Blue Ribbon
First mentioned by renown cocktail writer Jerry Thomas in 1876, this classic cocktail consists of gin (usually Old Tom gin), lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water.
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If you’re a fan of craft beer, you’ve probably heard of the Saranac brewery. If you’re a fan of throwback (see: cheap) beer, you might have heard of Utica Club. Even though the brewery (today called Matt Brewing Company) opened in 1888, Utica Club was the first beer the brand made after Prohibition, launching in 1933.
Photo: Matt Brewing Company