Raise a Glass and Celebrate Two Beer Holidays This Week

America has all sorts of obscure holidays, from Frozen Food Day (March 6) to Walk on Stilts Day (July 27) to Virus Appreciation Day (October 3). Most of these go unnoticed by all save the biggest frozen food lovers and virus appreciators among us. But there are some little-known holidays that deserve much more acclaim—like the anniversary of beer’s return to America.

On April 7, 1933, 14 years after Prohibition began, the sale of beer was once again legal in the U.S. Across the country, people crowded into taverns and restaurants to order a pint—or three—of the long-absent libation. So eager were Americans to wet their whistles again that many had begun packing the streets on the night of April 6, a date known as "New Beer’s Eve," to await the first deliveries. In Chicago, WGN Radio had a correspondent updating listeners as the first barrels made their way from the brewery to locations across the city, while in Baltimore, rain-soaked patrons cheered the delivery trucks as they made their rounds.

As the first barrels rolled in, years of pent-up mischief and merriment were released in a great sudsy flow.

“The downtown section was a Mardi Gras,” The Baltimore Sun wrote of the scene at the time. “Hundreds of horns, whistles, guns and small cannon shrieked and roared while the hands of 'Big Sam'—the City Hall clock—crept past midnight."

Prohibition was still in effect at the time, and only 19 states had agreed to begin selling beer once again. Also, the newly brewed beer was only 3.2 percent alcohol by volume (drinkers would have to wait until the official end of Prohibition on December 5 to get anything above that, including liquor). But this was a major shift for citizens who had spent years ducking into speakeasies and downing "near beer," which had an ABV of just .5 percent, the maximum amount allowed under Prohibition.

Newly elected president Franklin D. Roosevelt had overseen the legal maneuvering behind beer’s reemergence. With the support of a group of anti-Prohibition members of Congress known as “the wets,” he secured passage of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized the sale of low-alcohol beer and wine. In truth, Roosevelt had ridden the wave of public disgust toward Prohibition, which had grown particularly sour during the Great Depression, when many people were in need of a boozy pick-me-up.

The act had an immediate effect on more than just the national morale. Breweries, which previously had to lay off workers and turn to alternative revenue streams like furniture and toy manufacturing, hired back more than 50,000 workers. Brewing cities like Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Chicago benefited, and throughout the country, sales of beer and wine gave businesses a much-needed shot in the arm. Within the first two days of beer's reemergence, more than $25 million flowed into breweries and related businesses.

Today, beer continues to be a commercial juggernaut, with yearly sales topping $105 billion. And it all started—or re-started—on a boozy April 7 more than 80 years ago. So spend today picking out your favorite brew so that tomorrow you can raise a glass to National Beer Day. As FDR said at the time, “I think this would be a very good time for a beer.”

James Duong, AFP/Getty Images
The Latest Way to Enjoy Pho in Vietnam: As a Cocktail
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images

Pho is something of a national dish in Vietnam. The noodle soup, typically topped with beef or chicken, can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There’s even a version of it for happy hour, as Lonely Planet reports.

The pho cocktail, served at Nê Cocktail Bar in Hanoi, contains many of the herbs and spices found in pho, like cinnamon, star anise, cilantro, and cardamom. Without the broth or meat, its taste is refreshingly sweet.

The drink's uniqueness makes it a popular choice among patrons, as does the dramatic way it's prepared. The bartender pours gin and triple sec through the top of a tall metal apparatus that contains three saucers holding the spices. He then lights the saucers on fire with a hand torch as the liquid flows through, allowing the flavors to infuse with the alcohol as the drink is filtered into a pitcher below.

The pho cocktail
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images

Pham Tien Tiep, who was named Vietnam’s best bartender at the Diageo Reserve World Class cocktail competition in 2012, created the cocktail six years ago while working at the famous French Colonial-era hotel the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, according to AFP. He has since brought his signature drink to several of the stylish bars he owns in Vietnam’s capital, including Nê Cocktail Bar.

Initially, he set out to create a drink that would represent Vietnam’s culture and history. “I created the pho cocktail at the Metropole Hotel, just above the war bunkers where the American musician Joan Baez sang to the staff and guests in December 1972 as bombs fell on the city,” Tiep told Word Vietnam magazine. “The alcohol in the cocktail is lit on fire to represent the bombs, while spices, such as chili and cinnamon, reflect the warmness of her voice.”

Tiep has a reputation for infusing his drinks with unusual local ingredients. He has also created a cocktail that features fish sauce, a popular condiment in Vietnam, and another that contains capsicum, chili, and lemongrass in an ode to the bo luc lac (shaking beef) dish, according to CNN.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

Just 5 Alcoholic Drinks a Week Could Shorten Your Lifespan

Wine lovers were elated when a scientific study last year suggested that drinking a glass of wine a day could help them live longer. Now a new study, published in The Lancet, finds that having more than 100 grams of alcohol a week (the amount in about five glasses of wine or pints of beer) could be detrimental to your health.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Heart Foundation studied the health data of nearly 600,000 drinkers in 19 countries and found that five to 10 alcoholic drinks a week (yes, red wine included) could shave six months off the life of a 40-year-old.

The penalty is even more severe for those who have 10 to 15 drinks a week (shortening a person’s life by one to two years), and those who imbibe more than 18 drinks a week could lose four to five years of their lives. In other words, your lifespan could be shortened by half an hour for every drink over the daily recommended limit, according to The Guardian, making it just as risky as smoking.

"The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines [the equivalent of drinking three glasses of wine in a night] has roughly two years' lower life expectancy, which is around a 20th of their remaining life," David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge who was not involved with the study, tells The Guardian. "This works out at about an hour per day. So it's as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, about the same as a cigarette."

[h/t The Guardian]


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