One of the whiskey adventures I’ve been working on in recent months is designing a tour in Manhattan focused on one of the most exciting periods in American history—the Prohibition era.

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Yesterday, we did a test run with some friends from the Whiskey Club, and it was simply delightful. Two hours of storytelling about the era, with tastings along the way, culminating in a fantastic place introduced to me by Maxim Sorin. His place offers a small but very special selection of all kinds of alcohol you could want.

So, what is Prohibition? Between 1920 and 1933, it was illegal in the U.S. to produce, transport, and sell alcohol (though consumption was allowed, for example, as medicine). This absurd ban, which unsurprisingly failed, was so severe that it was enshrined as an amendment to the Constitution. Two key cities played roles in the ‘resistance’ to Prohibition—New York and Chicago (!!!). I put ‘resistance’ in quotes because, unlike the organized legislation and enforcement of Prohibition laws, the resistance was entirely organic and reflected a human need to exist, live, and enjoy. Not only did Prohibition ironically preserve alcohol consumption, but it also multiplied it exponentially and brought about other industries that defined the U.S. socially, economically, and culturally—the Mafia, jazz, club culture, and, of course, speakeasies. The Prohibition-era alcohol industry generated an entire industry of production, consumption, transportation, and sale of alcohol that ultimately helped sustain the U.S. during difficult economic times.

prohibition tours redhead whiskey

I won’t go into it here because it’s a vast topic and I’m not here to bring politics into it, but it is food for thought for all of us—events that happened 100 years ago are a complete reflection of what is happening today around the world. History always repeats itself. A bank collapses because of a run on funds; an esoteric movement manages to legislate a constitutional amendment, economic crisis, the perennial dialogue between the government and alcohol. It is simply fascinating to study the events and movements between 1820-1930 and see their parallels today. Which events and movements? You’ll have to join my tour to find out :-))

Assembling the tour itself was a joy, not only because I learned something new about the history and politics of the time but also because the process challenged me in areas I’m less comfortable with. I’m a behind-the-scenes, behind-the-computer person. But I love being at home 🙂 Planning a tour in the ‘real world’ and speaking in front of a crowd is very challenging for me!! I’m a ginger nerd! I blush, get confused, and almost burst into flames from excitement.

The tour will be offered twice a month on Saturdays for local Israelis and tourists through a fabulous woman named Ortal Saadon, the queen of tours in the city, and directly through me for the American audience. We’re starting in May. It’s so exciting you can’t even understand, or actually—if anyone can understand, it’s you.

prohibition tours redhead whikey

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