Six plus six equals twelve. Perfect for numerology and outstanding for such a symbolic day as one year removed from stepping out to bring discourse to the world of drinking culture.
I hope I’ve brought exciting topics to the table. I hope I’ve mentioned a few things that piqued your interest or intrigued you. I hope I commented on a few current events that were timely. I hope that Mr. DeVoto kept a common thread through every post, and that everything made sense.
I trust that you’ve found a new drinking place, with warm lights and an open door, and that you’ve confidently and comfortably stepped inside. I hope that you’ve used something I’ve posted to stimulate conversation in that drinking place. I hope that I helped to make for a congenial experience. Above all, I hope that you’ll keep returning to my environment of drinking culture, The Congenial Hour. Cheers!
“And now we must be certain it is the right bar. This is one of the most satisfying of all the settings and combinations that life affords…
Quiet and softly lighted, of course, not necessarily tiny but at least small, only a few stools for the solitary, and if banquettes then not violently colored, if booths then not cramped. There is no more fitting place for the slackening of exigency, the withdrawal of necessity…
Time is extensible, no hour must be met, there is no pressure to go anywhere else…” — The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto, by Bernard DeVoto
**Another trend is developing — cheers to Joshua Lindo of Eye Journey (www.eyejourney.co.uk) for the photograph!**
March 9th is remembered in hip hop circles for being the day one of the “greatest rappers ever” passed on. I have always thought that Canibus quoting it in “Second Round K.O.” helped permanently embed it in the conscience of hip hop, but that day seems to be remembered more than other hip hop days of remembrance. While Biggie was not my favorite rapper ever, I can’t seem to forget his day of observance.
I can remember Tupac passing on a Friday, as I found out after a high school football game, but September 13th doesn’t always jump in my head as a date to remember. Big Pun probably hit me the toughest, and I remember that Pun’s passing and Dilla Day are three days apart around February 10th, but mainly because that’s a birthday of a friend. Jam Master Jay created so much of the foundation rappers “spit” upon today, but I couldn’t recall the day he passed if someone offered me a pair of shell toes. My brother called semi-hysterically when ODB was said to have passed — I was at Sushi Samba Rio, and my favorite bartender had a shot with me in Dirt’s memory. It was only fitting for the drunken master, but it might be more fitting if I could remember what day that was.
What’s the most notable thing Biggie brought to drinking culture? While he was known to pop bottles of Mo’ in his Coogi sweaters, he also was one of the notable rappers that had a St. Ides commercial. His was actually one of my favorites, due to the beat he rapped on — the beat where Snoop came through and crushed the buildings, “New York, New York” by Tha Dogg Pound. The commercial, like the others, was just long enough to get you feeling it, but there’s actually an unreleased extended version. Why not listen to that with a cold brewski by your side on March 9th? Now THAT’S congenial, baby babaaaayyyyyy!!!!
Remembering Pun on the anniversary of his passing. Wish he could’ve survived longer to see his influence and experience the life he rapped about. Respect to one of the greatest lyricists ever!
“We thirsty now and I ain’t drinkin’ out of plastic cups/Platinum plus, crystal glasses with the fancy cuts/Fancy us, livin’ life lavish…” — My World
“You know my motto, clock G’s and rock ki’s like Drago/Pablo Escobar and Dom Perignon, we buying out the bar and Don Juan’n every woman Chandon’n…” — Boomerang
….Prohibition. The Noble Experiment. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Volstead Act. The day that made men cry — that is, unless they kept a tommy gun at the ready.
Prohibition is known as the period of time where it was illegal to produce and consume liquor. Feds running around to safehouses and using axes to crack open illegal barrels of whiskey and beer. Americans were forced to turn to household items, such as the sacred bathtub and pantyhose, to produce spirits undetected. As for the industry, countless breweries and distilleries went out of business, unable to transition to legal products profitable enough to keep their smokestacks churning. Drinking establishments, as was alluded to in the previous post, had to switch to serving products of the legal variety — ice cream and soda pop.
However, was everyone on either the legal/carbonated side or illegal/gangsterrific side of the law? Was there no happy medium? Indeed there was. The language of the Volstead Act prohibits “intoxicating liquors” — isn’t all liquor intoxicating? Not quite, according to Congress. Available for production was a defined amount of “non-intoxicating cider and fruit juice”, originally set to be no more than 0.5% ABV, but then extended, rendering home wine-making basically legal. But who really wanted to fiddle with grapes, just to arrive at a Pinot Noir that was the same color as a mass-produced Pinot Noir, but without any of the convenience or complexity. And all the 99p red in the world couldn’t make up for the lack of an ice cold beer or a nice jigger of brown, right? What’s a man to do?
Go see the doctor, that’s what. In current times, we know of “medicinal marijuana” that allows pharmacists to prescribe narcotics to those who need it, without criminal penalty. In the decade or so of Prohibition, this was also the method used, as pharmacists would dole out “spirituous frumenti”, the medical term for whiskey:
“To persons who are druggists in good faith, to retail spirituous and vinous liquors at the drug store in quantities not less than a quart, the liquor not to be drunk on the premises or adjacent thereto, and to sell in quantities less than a quart, for medicinal purposes only, on the prescription of a regular practicing physician, $50…” — Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. J.W. Fowler
Now that seems right and just. If I need my medicine, law or no law, I should get my medicine! And who would fight over that right? Lawyers?? Of course. They already had their Constitutional Amendment, why not keep fighting? Well, you know what we say to those lawyers? This:
“Everyone has the right to follow an innocent calling without permission from the government. He may do so with his own whatsoever he pleases, so that he injure no one else…So, then, without governmental interference or consent, we say the farmer may till his soil. the merchant may buy and sell, the lawyer and the doctor practice their professions, and the druggist and pharmacist compound their medicines. And if, by reason of shysters and quacks, an injured people demand protection, or if, because ill-behaved druggists or pretended pharmacists debauch the public morals by dealing out intoxicating liquors and nostrums as beverages, yet the pursuit of these callings cannot be prohibited. The innocent and honest druggist cannot be restrained of his liberty by reason of the dishonest practices of others. His pursuit, being in itself harmless, and indeed useful, and capable of being conducted without harm to the public, cannot be prohibited….” — Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. J.W. Fowler
So with that, let’s raise a glass to this glorious Repeal Day. The anniversary of the right of Dr. Feelgood to prescribe you a fifth of brown. Or for you to just go pick one up from your favorite beverage depot. Or for your favorite barkeep to pour you two fingers of Old Forester, the only bourbon produced before, during, and after Prohibition, as it was used as spirituous frumenti. Any way you get your spirits, let’s celebrate the legality of it all. Cheers. *clink, clink*
How does an anniversary affect cocktail indulgence? It depends on the type of day being observed….
Maybe a small celebratory clink of two flutes of champagne, as the resilient couple sends cheers to another year together….
It might be a respectful-yet-somber toast towards fallen comrades, who enabled the rest of the brigade to control the beachhead….
Possibly having the cocktail itself, as you celebrate the ability to enjoy distilled spirits on the right side of the law….
It also gives different brands the opportunity to show how they’ve stood the test of time….150 years of Grand Marnier, 160 years of Old. No.7, 200 years of the great Blue Label, 500 years of monk-enabled Benedictine — the list goes on and on….
Or possibly observing 60 years of a grand drinking place and its place within a glorious city….
However and with whomever you observe yours, make sure you do it with taste, class, and glorious spirit….both in your glass and in your heart.