When Americans think Prohibition, we think of the 18th Amendment banning the production, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. It is interesting to note that the consumption of alcohol was not prohibited. We think of the 1920s and early 30s, the birth of the Speak Easy, Organized Crime and Rum Runners. However; the movement to ban the evils of drinking began long before the 18th Amendment was ratified.
It began in the Protestant Churches and a practice of moderation in the 1830s. By 1838, Tennessee passed the first legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol. Some of the newer states to enter the union did so as dry states. When Prohibition became law, some Churches, mostly Catholic, were exempt under the rules of separation of Church and State whereby the government could not legislate the practices of recognized religious institutions. Some say the Catholic Church saved the wineries of California from disappearing completely. Another exception for the sale of Alcohol was for medical reasons. Doctors made a small fortune writing prescriptions for what otherwise was a banned substance.
One of my favorite Prohibition Stories is about the wineries in Napa, California. As the story goes, the Federal Government gave notice that they would be coming to confiscate all the barrels of wine. Rather than turn their wines over, they loaded them into wagons and flatbeds and drove to the Napa River. The river ran crimson with wine and people from all around came with buckets to scoop up the watered down drink. I have no idea if the tale is true, but having met a few old wine makers, I can see that happening.
So here’s to an experiment that failed.
Hot Buttered Rum
2 cups Water
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
2/3 cup Dark Rum
In a 2-quart saucepan over moderately high heat, bring water, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve, the butter to melt and the flavors to develop. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
Ladle into coffee mugs. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick.