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6 Surprising Facts About Prohibition Era

Thu, Dec 01, 22

Get excited US History buffs! We’re breaking down some lesser-known facts about the Prohibition Era. The 1920s were a time for imbibing behind the scenes and let’s just say the 18th Amendment didn’t exactly put an end to the parties…

It was never illegal to drink alcohol in the United States

A common misconception about prohibition was that it was illegal for people to drink alcohol. However, it was only against the law to make, sell or transport alcohol. This created several legal loopholes that people took full advantage of. (Do we blame them?) 

Several of these loopholes were thanks to the Volstead Act, which allowed doctors to prescribe “medicinal whiskey” and permitted alcohol to be used for religious sacraments. Liquid leftovers, or leftover booze found in people’s homes, was also legal, so people — especially the wealthy — began stockpiling their booze.

Speakeasies were given their name for a reason

A Speakeasy was a hidden saloon or nightclub that illegally sold alcoholic beverages. These establishments often claimed to sell legal drinks such as sodas and coffee, but actually served alcohol behind the scenes. It was common for speakeasies to require patrons to whisper code words in order to enter. This practice is where the title “speak-easy” came from. 

Did you know that Denver has a few speakeasy style bars? Check out Green Russell or Millers & Rossi to experience the prohibition vibe — without having to break the law, of course.

People called dive bars "Blind Pigs"

Similar to speakeasies, “Blind Pigs” were another common drinking destination during the prohibition era. The term “blind pig” was essentially a synonym for the modern-day “dive bar.” Customers would pay to see an attraction and receive a complimentary drink. Often these attractions involved animals, like pigs, which inspired the name.

You probably won’t find any bars with pig performers in Denver, but there are plenty of dive bars to check out once things are COVID-safe!

Prohibition inspired booze cruises

During Prohibition, people would hop on cruise ships and sail in circles along the coast. Why? The answer is simple: they wanted to drink. Technically, serving alcohol was allowed since these cruises were happening on international waters. Those who lived near the coast were lucky… Us Denverites would have missed out!

Tipping became common practice during prohibition

Ever wonder what made tipping popular at bars and restaurants? Well, Prohibition played a hand in establishing this social norm. The loss of profit from alcohol sales caused establishments to welcome tips as a way of supplementing their employee wages.

President Roosevelt loved Yuengling

Yuengling Beer is currently making its way out west, and we’re looking forward to celebrating President Roosevelt style. A truckload of Yuengling Beer was delivered to the White House on the day that Prohibition ended. Sounds like he was a man of good taste!


Related bonus fact: When the 18th Amendment was ratified, the President was also quoted saying, “What America needs now is a drink!” After this past year, it’s safe to say we couldn’t agree more!