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The Prohibition in Two Handy Beverage Books

By MPL Staff on Aug 22, 2014 10:48 AM

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Public Library Instagram

“Whether or not the wisdom of [Prohibition] commends itself  to all of the people, it is fair to assume that, having become art of the basic law of the land, the American people, being law-abiding citizens, will observe it. But this does not mean that men and women will no longer become thirsty.”

So goes the foreword to Helen Watkey Moore’s On Uncle Sam’s Water Wagon, a 1919 collection of 500 beverage recipes for the thirsty gent or lady who has suddenly found their favorite alcoholic beverages rendered illegal. The recipes themselves are an interesting mix, with such highlights as The Harlem:

“Put in a shaker four tablespoons of vanilla syrup and one tablespoon of orange syrup. Shake well with a little chopped ice. Strain into a glass, add a ladleful of ice cream and a spoonful of whipped cream.”

Or perhaps you’d like Lemonade for 150 People? Clam Juice and Tomato Catsup? Okay, probably not Clam Juice and Tomato Catsup, but the recipes are all there. While definitely somewhat of a novelty now, the book does illustrate a specific sort of attitude going into a period that would definitely mark the development of the United States as a nation. It’s even more interesting when compared with the following book, Shake ‘Em Up!

You see, Shake ‘Em Up was published in 1930, in the waning years of Prohibition. And yet, it is a full-fledged cocktail book, complete with recipes requiring gin, scotch, and rye. Though, with its tongue firmly in its own cheek, the book does declare in its foreword that such ingredients indicate non-alcoholic versions (and that one should “ignore the prefix at their own peril”). Further accentuated by ridiculous cartoon illustrations, recipes to help late guests ‘catch up’ to the level of inebriation of the rest of the party, and more, this definitely shows how out-of-vogue Prohibition had become by 1930.

While the recipes aren’t as ‘unique’ as some of the libations in Uncle Sam’s Water Wagon, the book still manages to be an interesting and informative book about the drinking habits of a particular time period. So why not stop by, check one out, and make some crazy concoctions from yesteryear?

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