Rachel Wittmann, Boni Joi Koelliker, Mary Seem, Erin Noto
On January 16th 1920, when The Volstead Act, or what is commonly known as Prohibition was passed, making it illegal to consume alcoholic beverages, no one could have predicted the unlawful activities that would transpire and the creative recipes for cocktails it would inspire. As Prohibition went into effect, gangsters began bootlegging low quality booze, and old saloons were turned into speakeasies. In the heights of Prohibition there were over 30,000 speakeasies in New York City alone located in various places such as lofts, basements, and high-rise buildings. When liquor was legal, many people drank whisky, which takes time and skill to produce, but during Prohibition, cocktails, specifically those made with gin, such as the Martini, became popular. Bathtub gin, which consisted of a mixture of glycerin, industrial alcohol and juniper oil, was easy to make; it aged from the time it took to get from the bathroom where it was made to the bar where the party was in progress. Bartenders disguised the taste of the gin with a one-to-two ratio of dry Vermouth and added orange bitters or a twist of lemon into a small chilled glass.
Right after Franklin Roosevelt signed the act repealing Prohibition he prepared the first legal Martini in the White House. The end of Prohibition gave rise to other recipes, and with good quality gin, the dry style Martini. The true origins of the Martini’s name and creation cannot be verified. New Yorkers believe Martini di Taggia, bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in 1912, invented the mixture. The minimalist glass shape was designed to accommodate an olive or cocktail onion and encourage the drinker to imbibe slowly. No doubt writers like E. B. White felt a calming effect when gazing at their artfully crafted cocktail and deeming the Martini “the elixir of quietude.”
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P. 40 ” It is 8 o’clock and I re-examine an ex-speakeasy in East 53rd St with dinner in mind. A thin crowd, a summer-night buzz of fans interrupted by an occasional drink being shaken at the small bar.”