Prohibition brought a profusion of ills, one of which was the proliferation of bathtub gin. It wasn’t always gin, and it wasn’t always made in a bathtub, but it was everywhere. Anyone could fashion a still with a copper boiler, some pipe, and a few gadgets from the hardware store, and people breaking the law tended not to be fussy about recipes. White lightning, rotgut, moonshine, panther sweat—it had a hundred names and as many unpredictable ingredients, like embalming fluid or creosote. Everyone knew of someone who had gone blind, been paralyzed, or died from drinking bathtub gin. Even a smuggled-in foreign bottle with a fancy French label was no guarantee as labels could be counterfeited and the booze adulterated.
Prohibition lasted the entire decade and longer, right into the Thirties. During these years, a huge vocabulary of slang grew up around liquor and illegal bars. Here are some of the words I’ve come across that were in common use—only a few are still in use today.
hair of the dog
jorum of skee