Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Prohibition, Gin & Ginger-Ale

"Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. The backbone of the prohibition movement began with the temperance crusaders of the nineteenth century. Clergymen, politicians, business leaders, and social reformers grew concerned about the nation's health, morality and economic prosperity, and blamed society's increased drinking for the deterioration of these morals. Mirroring the progressive belief that the individual must sacrifice for the betterment of the rest of society, the 18th Amendment was ratified. One year later, prohibition became law. With the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, the Federal Government was able to ban the production, manufacturing and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the entire nation."(source)


Quite honestly, I don't really want to get into the politics of the prohibition era. It has been well documented in the alcoves of American history. From the 1920's until 1933 when the 21st amendment was repealed and ended prohibition, some Americans simply "adapted" and capitalized on the government's attempt to stamp out the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Many saloons became soda fountains or luncheonettes. Restaurants and hotels catered more to families while speakeasies became more popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed. Although the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol was illegal in the U.S., it was not illegal in surrounding countries. Distilleries and breweries in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished as their products were either consumed by visiting Americans or illegally imported to the U.S. When one door closes another one opens. Such was the case with the Roaring Twenties. Enterprising Americans set new records for the consumption of alcoholic beverages, many soft drinks were used as mix mask additions. Canada Dry Pale Dry Ginger Ale was one such addition. Launched in 1904, Canada Dry was made available in New York City by 1919. Two years later, a Canada Dry plant was opened in New York City.

There's no doubt that the pleasant qualities of ginger ale made it the perfect mixer to mask the taste of home brew during prohibition, and for Canada Dry the Roaring Twenties literally roared with success. The range expanded during the 1930s to take in tonic water, club soda, Collins mix and fountain syrup under the Canada Dry name.(website)

Canada Dry may have come into vogue during Prohibition as a mixing agent but unlike Canada Dry which was a dry, less sweet ginger ale Vernor's was a "golden" sweet ginger ale.

Prohibition killed golden ginger ale. In the 1920’s Americans were visiting illegal speakeasies in droves, and the cocktail was at the height of fashion. Many soft drinks were used as a mix with alcohol, and there was even one specifically made to mix with alcohol. It was called "dry" ginger ale (colorless, almost tasteless, and less sweet than golden ginger ale). During prohibition, dry ginger ale became immensely popular. However, golden ginger ale quickly fell off in popularity, as all forms of ginger ale would become associated with liquor in the non-drinking public’s mind.source

Surprise! I never knew there were two "kinds" of ginger ale. Did you? Wiki did.

Ginger ales come in two varieties: golden ginger ale and dry ginger ale. Golden ginger ale, dark colored and strong flavored, is the older style. Dry ginger ale was developed during Prohibition when ginger ale was used as a mixer for alcoholic beverages as the strong flavor of golden ginger ale was undesirable. Dry ginger ale quickly surpassed golden ginger ale in popularity, and today golden ginger ale is an uncommon, and usually regional, drink. Vernors, Blenheim, Chelmsford, and Red Rock are brands of golden ginger ale, while Canada Dry, Schweppes and Seagram's are major brands of dry ginger ale. source

Vernor's Ginger Soda

The Vernor Recipes die-cut booklet pictured is unfortunately undated. It is another example of the popularity in die-cut advertising promotions. Although it measures about 5 inches, it's primed with recipes using "Deliciously Different" Vernor's. Foreword:

Vernor's Ginger Ale is "deliciously different" and such complete refreshment in itself, that is seems to be "gilding the lily" to suggest its use in concocting mixed drinks and other delicacies.
There are, however, so many delightful recipes which are made more delightful by the inclusion of Vernor's that we have prepared this little booklet to acquaint you with a few of them.

I actually had a difficult time picking out a recipe to include today. The pictured recipes are Vernor Punch and Vernor Julep (the pages are really in better condition than they appear & will open larger in a new page.) As expected, there are a few beverage recipes but, to my "delight," there are also recipes which use Vernor's as a cooking ingredient. There's Vernor's Chicken Salad, Frozen Pineapple Salad, Apples a la Vernor and more. The one I decided on is Baked Ham a la Vernor.

Boil Ham until tender, discarding water. Remove skin and excess fat. Rub liberally with brown sugar and stick cloves into ham. Place in baking dish, adding contents of one or two bottles of Vernor's Ginger Ale according to size of ham, sufficient to baste. Bake in slow oven until ham is heated through (one to two hours), Baste every 15 minutes.

James Vernor, Sr. was born in New York and moved to Detroit Michigan as a young boy. He was a pharmacist and druggist who invented Vernor's ginger ale in 1866. He also served as Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States during World War II.

"Most historians credit James Vernor as the inventor of ginger ale. His trade expanded at such a rate that he soon abandoned his drug store and went into the manufacturing of ginger ale on a full time basis although he was very proud of holding Michigan Pharmacy License #1 as long as he lived". source


Gilbey's Gin die-cut

I couldn't resist slivering along with the Prohibition theme:) This die-cut booklet advertising Gilbey's Gin is also not dated. When I first got it, I thought it may have been from the 1970's but further research would not confirm that time frame. "Someday" I will try again to date it but, for now, I thought I would blend it in to the theme of Prohibition. It appears that Gilbey's Gin is still in production and is quite popular as an ingredient in mixed drinks. I have provided a link below if you would like to delve into the history of Gilbey's Gin. I also came across a website that enlightened me to the symbolism of the dragon on the front of the bottle. "The dragon on the front of the bottle is called a Wyvern, a mythical winged animal with a long association with London, the home of dry gin". (source)

(a dragon site) The origin of the word wyvern comes from thirteenth-century word wyver, which in turn is derived from the French wyvere, which means both "viper" and "life." (source)

An ad from 1957, proclaims Gilbey's Gin "The one gin distilled in 11 countries and served around the world," (source) while an article published in the New York Times published on June 7, 1994 campaigns for lemons and limes dueling it out with colored plastic cocktail swords. sourceGilbey's Gin Die-cut

1. The History of Vernor's Ginger Ale 
2. Vernors Ginger Soda
3. Prohibition Remembrance Day
4. Prohibition Era Wine Recipe
5. If by whiskey
6. Speakeasies
7. Making Ginger Ale At Home
1. The History of Gilbey's Gin
2. Kiss Off recipe (recipe using Gilbey's Gin)
3. Wyvern (definition)

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Thanks for dropping in...Louise