On January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment went into effect mandating nationwide prohibition, essentially derailing the country’s most prevalent pastime of the era—drinking. While the Volstead Act, as it was called, prohibited the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol, it did not outlaw the consumption of alcohol. Secreted away to back alleys and speakeasies, serving alcohol became a titillating game of chance, and bar-hopping a sport. Why, stock-car racing only took off after moonshine-runners began assembling recreationally to see whose boozemobile could haul Appalachian whisky faster; when they officially organized in 1948, they became the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, aka NASCAR.
Despite all the perks that Prohibition gave us—NASCAR, outlaws like Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde, bathtub gin and near-beer among them—the ratification of the 21st Amendment made alcohol-related legislation a state issue, and with the exception of a few holdouts, America got its groove back on December 5, 1933, better known as Repeal Day.
- From the Calendar
- Repeal of Prohibition party at the Downtown Cocktail Room
- Local Love at Satellite Bar at Moon
- Club Guide
- Restaurant Guide
- Hash House A Go-Go
Fast forward 75 years … In celebration of Repeal Day, BarMagic of Las Vegas’ Tobin Ellis and John Hogan are going to party like it’s December 4, 1933. That is, they will dress up on December 4 in the finest ’20s and ’30s gear they and their cohorts can find (think flappers and dandies or gangsters and gun-molls) and head down to Vegas’ own beloved speakeasy, the trick-doored Downtown Cocktail Room. Hogan and Ellis’ Outlaw Brown Tonic elixir and Plymouth Gin will unite over ice, and plenty of other classic cocktails will no doubt be served up from 10 p.m. on. The public is invited to join in the jollity, but note that costumes are required to get in. In other words, jeans or clubwear make ya public enemy No. 1, ya see?
Guess what else is turning 75!
Depending on whose version of the Bloody Mary’s origins you subscribe to, the coming of 2009 marks either the drink’s 89th, 75th or 70th birthday. It is most commonly thought that in 1934, the St. Regis Hotel’s French barman Fernand Petiot added Tobasco to the Red Snapper (a mixture of vodka and tomato juice he is also said to have created in 1920) and BAM!—a star was born. Or … another one goes that actor George Jessel created a vodka-and-tomato-juice cocktail in 1939 and called it the Bloody Mary—five years after Petiot had supposedly already created it. Uh-oh.
Petiot’s own account of the cocktail’s genesis contradicts the first version, as he told The New Yorker magazine in 1964 that he tinkered with Jessel’s Bloody Mary, which puts his version into the ’40s: “‘I initiated the Bloody Mary of today,’ he told us. ‘George Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over. I cover the bottom of the shaker with four large dashes of salt, two dashes of black pepper, two dashes of cayenne pepper and a layer of Worcestershire sauce; I then add a dash of lemon juice and some cracked ice, put in two ounces of vodka and two ounces of thick tomato juice, shake, strain and pour.’” He doesn’t even mention Tobasco! Hrmph.
Still, for its Red Monday celebration this week, the city of Manhattan chose to go with the romantic 1934 version of the tale. Monday’s official Bloody Mary Day shindig in New York’s Times Square kicked off a yearlong celebration throughout the United States.
Las Vegans can celebrate, too, by trying out some of Vegas’ own legendary Marys, like the avant-garde “Deconstructed” Bloody Mary amuse-bouche served at Lavo Restaurant, the thinned-out and ginned-up Downtown Dill Bloody Mary served on the stem at Downtown Cocktail Room and the über-classic at Hash House A Go-Go— which comes served in a salt- and pepper-rimmed pint glass, is spicy as all get out and is accompanied by a bounty of assorted fresh and pickled veggies. (Actually, it wasn’t until the 1960s that celery became a part of the Bloody Mary scenario, but we’re not being sticklers, so neither should you.)
On the road again
Local Love, we missed you so. Once a Thursday-night staple at the dearly departed Empire Ballroom, the party briefly moved to the VooDoo Lounge, but was reportedly discontinued when Harrah’s then-director of nightlife, Pauly Freedman, headed over to Blush. Fortunately, Local Love is being resurrected, and dance-music fans can look forward to once again hearing some of Vegas’ best DJs that don’t spin Top 40 mash-ups. Local Love moves to its new home inside the Satellite Bar at Moon on Tuesday, January 6, with Digital Boy and resident DJ Keith Evans scheduled to spin. The following Tuesday, Oscar Molina is slated to appear, with Jordan Stevens on January 20 and Jeff Bomb on January 27. A custom Local Love CD mix will be created by each of the DJs to be given away during their appearances for the first four weeks of the party, and, as always, there’s no cover charge for locals.