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6 Absurd Alcohol Myths People Believed During Prohibition

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The pro-temperance “dry” lobby, whose existence culminated in its successful campaign for the passage of the 18th amendment in 1920, was one of the most formidable political organizations in American history. It united such diverse bedfellows as veterans, women’s suffrage groups, religious communities, the NAACP, and even the Ku Klux Klan. Dry propaganda deeply penetrated the nation’s educational system and much of it soon became required reading in hundreds of public schools, spreading some truly outlandish misinformation in the process. Here are six of the period’s most widely-held myths about alcohol.

1. Alcohol Turns Blood Into Water

This strange notion was popularized by the “Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction,” a branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which believed federal prohibition could eliminate domestic violence. Though it’s become a political shadow of its former self, the now-international union still exists today.

2. Merely Smelling Alcohol Could Deform Unborn Children

Alfred Ploetz, a German eugenicist who later joined the Nazi party, believed that alcohol consumption was a driving force behind genetic inferiority. In his pamphlet The Influence of Alcohol Upon Race, he actually suggested that pregnant mothers could bear “defective offspring” simply by taking in the very scent of alcohol. Ploetz moved first to Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1890 and then to Meriden, Connecticut, before ultimately returning to his native country, spreading his radical views to receptive American audiences in the process.

3. Some Bootleg Wines Were Made With Cockroaches

Hailed for its distinctive flavor, Madeira wine has been enjoyed by Americans for centuries. Even the founding fathers adored the drink, as importer Bartholomew Broadbent explains in this clip:

Hoping to tarnish the Portuguese beverage’s popularity, dry preacher T. P. Hunt of Wyoming, Pennsylvania claimed that it was common practice for wine-makers to lazily “put a bag of cockroaches” into a bottle of ordinary liquor and leave it there until it dissolved, thus replicating the famed Madeira aftertaste.

4. Most Beer Drinkers Die of Dropsy

Mary Hannah Hanchett Hunt, a former Massachusetts school-teacher, quickly became one of the aforementioned WCTU’s highest-ranking officers. While tirelessly working to push the temperance agenda in schools, she claimed then-recent scientific findings “proved” that the majority of beer drinkers die of dropsy. Though some have recently suggested that alcoholism is indeed linked to the disorder, Hunt’s assertion is, mildly-put, a huge exaggeration.

5. Alcohol Can Give You a 25-Pound Liver

The average human liver weighs somewhere in the vicinity of 3.5 pounds (roughly 1.5 kilograms) and the fact that excessive alcohol consumption can wreak havoc upon the vital organ is common knowledge. But this cautionary advice wasn’t terrifying enough for temperance newsletters, one of which wrote that “in some cases the liver [of a drinker] reaches an enormous weight, fifteen, and even twenty to twenty-five pounds being not uncommon.”

6. Drunkards’ Brains Can Be Used As Torches

Prohibitionist George McCandlish claimed to have once observed two surgeons performing an autopsy on the gray matter of a heavy drinker: “After removing the top of the skull, for the purpose of examining the condition of the brain, they tested it for alcohol by holding a lighted match near it, and immediately the brain took fire and burned with a blue flame, like an alcohol lamp.”  

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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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