Thursday, December 04, 2008
December 5 is a high holiday for savvy American bartenders called Repeal Day. It's the day in 1933 the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition. It's hard to believe, but from 1920 to 1933, it was illegal to sell, make or transport alcohol in the U.S.
Of course, people found all sorts of ways around Prohibition. They smuggled the stuff from Canada or Mexico, made their own bathtub gin with juniper flavor ordered from Sears & Roebuck or went to speakeasies, wild underground bars where you needed a password to get in. Probably the one good thing about Prohibition is that it's the first time women were allowed to go out and have a cocktail; bars previously had been a male-only affair.
After Prohibition ended, drinkers told each other to stay wet and made an umbrella with rain falling underneath it a symbol of Repeal Day. The best way to honor an American holiday like Repeal Day is with a classic cocktail, like a Gin & Tonic or a Long Island Iced Tea - both created during Prohibition - or a pre-Prohibition cocktail like a Rob Roy.
Few San Diego bars appreciate the romance, history and clean flavors found in classic cocktails, but Oceanaire Seafood Room downtown does. The swank restaurant run by my Top Chef pal Brian Malarkey offers a retro 1930s atmosphere extends to the bar, which serves drinks like the tangy Sidecars and fruity Singapore Slings. I'll be ordering a classic Champagne Cocktail made with a sugar cube doused in a dash of bitters.
Have fun and stay wet!