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On This Day in History: January 16th, 1919

On January 16, 1919 the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes” was ratified and officially went into effect on January 17, 1920. Prohibition was now a part of the Constitution, and the stockpiling began.

All the production and sale of alcohol was driven underground (bootlegging), tens of thousands of speakeasies were born, there was a rise in gang violence and nationwide crime organizations were formed. Al Capone, a gangster hailing from Chicago made a whopping $60 million annually bootlegging and operating speakeasies. That’s just one person. Think about the amount of money circulating through these bootlegging organizations!

So how did winemakers and brewers stay afloat during the Prohibition? Well, they got creative – and if they didn’t, they shut their doors. Yuengling and Anheuser Busch made ice cream, Coors went into the pottery business, and other breweries made “near beers” that contained less than 0.5 percent alcohol. Some genius ideas if I don’t say so myself!

On December 5, 1933, prohibition came to an end. The experiment was deemed a failure, and the Twenty-first Amendment became the only Constitutional amendment ever passed to overturn a previous (cough cough Eighteenth) amendment.

And on that note, we raise a glass to the Twenty-first Amendment!