This Friday, December 5th, will mark the 81st anniversary of National Repeal Day, the day the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, putting an end to the prohibition of alcohol.
Although there’s some debate over whether or not Americans drank vodka in the early 20th century, Eastern European immigrants had already begun to bring their taste for the white spirit to the US. According to cocktail historian, David Wondrich, vodka cocktails flourished in Europe during Prohibition, where exiled American bartenders expanded their skills, using local ingredients. After repeal, those liquid libations were the hipster’s ‘secret handshake’. Columnist O.O. McIntyre wrote in 1934, “all the smart bars here [in New York] are now serving vodka, and many of the accomplished drinkers are quaffing it in lieu of their favorite tipple.”
Imbibers in the 1920’s may have been relegated to bathtub gin and white lightning, but bartenders and classy drinkers today now know the clean taste, mixability, and versatility that can be had with vodka. In truth, a great vodka can make that next cocktail the cat’s meow!
To honor and celebrate this landmark in cocktail history, Azzurre Spirits has assembled a list of Repeal Day Trivia terms from author Mark McCutcheon’s Writer’s Guide To Everyday Life From Prohibition Through World War II, along with Prohibition inspired cocktails that put a modern twist on the classics.
- BEE’S KNEES – An extraordinary person, thing, idea; the ultimate also “Cat’s Meow”
- BENT – Drunk, ossified; also Fried
- BERRIES – That which is attractive or pleasing; similar to the Bee’s Knees
- BIRD – General term for a man or woman, sometimes meaning odd or strange
- BLIND PIG – Blind Pig – place where illegal alcohol was served, also known as a Blind Tiger
- BROWN – A bootlegger’s term for whiskey
- BROWN PLAID – A bootlegger’s term for scotch
- CAKE EATER – A ladies’ man
- CASH – A kiss. As in, “Can I get a little cash?”
- CAT’S MEOW – Something splendid or stylish, highly desirable
- CASH OR CHECK – Do we kiss now or later?
- COPACETIC – Wonderful, fine; everything is all right
- DAME – A female
- DAPPER – Father of a flapper
- DOLL – An attractive woman
- DOUGH – Money
- EEL’S HIPS – Another variation of the cat’s meow
- FLAPPER – A free-spirited young woman
- HAIR OF THE DOG – A shot of alcohol
- JAKE – Everything is ok. As in, “Everything is Jake!”
- JOE – A cup of coffee, also known as Java
- MIND YOUR OWN POTATOES – Mind your own business
- OMBIBULOUS – A term created by writer H.L. Mencken to describe his love of alcohol; he noted, “I’m ombibulous. I drink every known alcoholic drink and enjoy them all.”
- RITZY – Elegant (taken from the name of the hotel)
- SITTING PRETTY –In a good position
- SPIFFLICATED – Drunk. The same as canned, corked, tanked, primed, scrooched, jazzed, zozzled, plastered, owled, embalmed, lit, potted, ossified or fried
- SNAKE’S HIPS – Same as the cat’s whiskers or bee’s knees
- WET BLANKET – A dull person; a killjoy
- WHOOPEE – To have a good time
Repeal Day Cocktail Recipes:
- 2 oz Azzurre Vodka
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- 3 oz cardamom ginger ale
How to make the cardamom ginger ale:
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 5 cardamom pods, crushed
- ½ c cane sugar
- ½ c water
- 1 cup sparkling water
To make the cardamom ginger ale:
Peel and finely grate the ginger. Set aside. Crack open the cardamom pods and grind the seeds, using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Add sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add ginger and ground cardamom and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once the syrup has cooled, strain through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a large jar or bottle and add sparkling water. Keep the ginger ale chilled in fridge while you make the rest of your drink.
To make the cocktail:
Fill a Moscow Mule mug halfway with crushed ice. Add the vodka, lime juice, and cardamom ginger ale, then top off the remainder of your cup with crushed ice. Garnish with sliced lime wheel.
- 1 ½ oz Azzurre Spirits Vodka
- ¼ cup fresh blueberries or blackberries
- 4-6 fresh mint leaves
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ½ oz lime juice
Put the berries, mint, sugar, and half of the Azzurre Spirits Vodka into a shaker. Gently muddle, then let stand for a bit to allow the muddled leaves and berries to steep. Pour in the rest of the vodka and the lime juice. Strain, and pour into a julep cup filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.
- 1 1/2 oz Azzurre Vodka or Gin
- 1/2 oz Lime juice
- Soda water
- Splash of Drambuie (scotch liqueur)
- Lime peel garnish
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add vodka, lime juice, Drambuie liqueur, and stir. Top with soda water. Stir. Garnish with lime.