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15 Pictures of People Wasting Perfectly Good Alcohol During Prohibition

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getty images

Anyone who has ever caught an episode of Boardwalk Empire knows the extreme—and sometimes violent—lengths to which bootleggers went to keep the alcohol flowing during America’s Prohibition years. But 20th century lawmen and teetotalers were just as committed to their cause, as evidenced by these vintage photos of people wasting perfectly good alcohol.

1. Dismantling a still

Agents in San Francisco ensure that the hooch would stop flowing from this particular still by dismantling it altogether.

2. Orange County Sheriff dumps bootleg booze

In California’s Orange County, Sheriff Sam Jernigan, Undersheriff Ed McClellan, and Santa Ana Constable Jesse Elliott oversee the destruction of some bootlegged booze.

3. Prohibition agents destroy barrels of alcohol

This photo, which shows Prohibition agents emptying several barrels of alcohol, first appeared in the Chicago Daily News in 1921.


With a deck full of contraband, the crew of the Linwood—a rum-running ship—opted to set their boat afire in order to destroy the evidence when they were pursued by a patrol boat in 1923.

5. Zion City, Ill. destroys 80,000 pint bottles of beer

Mrs. Graze Knippen holds up one of the 80,000 pint bottles of beer she helped to get rid of in Zion City, Ill.


Zion City Mayor Hurd Clendinen made sure the press was on hand to witness—and photograph—his city’s commitment to the Prohibition movement.

7. Smashing Barrels

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An axe makes a perfect took for smashing barrels full of alcohol, as this man discovers in 1921.

8. Pouring It Away

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A well-placed sewer drain could be a teetotaler’s best friend.

9. Bottle throwing in Boston

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Bottles of wine and spirits are hurled at a brick wall in Boston in 1920.

10. Wine flush

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In February 1920, just after the start of Prohibition in America, a crowd of excited onlookers watch as 33,100 gallons of vino are flushed into the gutter outside of the North Cucamonga Winery in Los Angeles.

11. Beer street

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Barrels of suds are spilled into the streets, forming a river of beer in 1925.

12. Down the drain

A thirsty drain is the final resting place for this barrel of liquid contraband.


In 1932, a year before Prohibition was repealed, deputies in Orange County, Calif. rid the city of an impressive stash of illegal booze.

14. Nine men smashing bottles in dump

Dewar's Repeal, Flickr

Taking a cue from Zion City, 18,000 bottles of beer made their way from Philadelphia to Washington, DC—only to be smashed to smithereens at the local dump.

15. Drink poured down the sewer

A group of officials look on as a barrel of alcohol is poured down a New York manhole.

Courtesy New District
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
Courtesy New District
Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.


As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.


Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.


Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.


While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.


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