EVERYTHING OLD IS BREW AGAIN

Even though New Yorkers aren’t allowed to drink on their stoops (Stoop To Drink), they’re more than welcome to become soused in their museums…well, intellectually soused that is. The Museum of the City of New York is currently paying tribute to those bygone days of bath tub gin, racketeers and Prohibition with a special Speakeasy event called “Tell Them Jerry Sent You.” Museum exhibitors always had a knack for knowing where the skeletons were buried and appear to have also developed a knack for knowing where the action is.

A speakeasy groove is the current American fad and speakeasy-themed bars are appearing in major cities across the nation. For instance, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, not far from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on a nondescript block, one could find (after an extensive search) an even more nondescript-looking bar and restaurant called Rye. The place has a boarded-up, abandoned appearance with a number painted discreetly on a glass panel above its door. “Like a suspect in a lineup, it seems to shrink back when observed.” A great many pseudo-speakeasies, like this one, could be found in some of the best abandoned/ out of the way areas of NYC these days. NYT

There are a lot of bars like this right now. They can be found all over the United States, skulking in the shadows. Obtrusively furtive, they represent one of the strangest exercises in nostalgia ever to grip the public, an infatuation with the good old days of Prohibition.

Famous drinks from the Prohibition era will be featured and served at the MCNY speakeasy event; cocktails, in particular. Cocktails, while actually invented in the 19th century, became the sweet and fruity deceptions of 1920s booze-mongers hoping to disguise their crude, horrible-tasting concoctions. Many of these deceptions went only so far until tragedy ensued: “In 1927, nine people died from alcohol poisoning in a single day, and the number suffering from alcoholic poisoning who were admitted to the psychopathic ward that week had reached 169.”

Drink menus during the Prohibition era were often divided into categories like fizzes (made with acidic juice, like lime or lemon, and soda), flips (made with egg), punches (usually made with rum drinks) and cordials. Of course health concerns changed over time, for example, as the people became aware of food-borne illnesses like salmonella. ‘A lot of these drinks have raw egg, so we’re not going to be serving that,’ [said Sarah Henry, chief curator of the museum.]

“Tell Them Jerry Sent You” will run on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. until August 26. Admission is $12 for nonmembers, $10 for members, and includes a free drink and admission to current exhibitions.

New York Times

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