Prohibition Exemptions: How to get legal alcohol during the Twenties

People think that Prohibition meant there was no legal alcohol. WRONG! There were lots of exceptions. And those exceptions were quickly abused. For example:

1. Churches and synagogues could buy and serve sacramental wine at Communion or with a certification from a rabbi. Suddenly, LOTS more wine was being purchased by Catholic, Episcopalian, and other churches and Orthodox congregations. The number of rabbis increased dramatically.

2. Hospitals could order alcohol for cleaning purposes. Suddenly, hospitals that used to order rubbing alcohol by the quart now ordered by the boxcar.

3. Patent medicine had always had a large % of alcohol. That % grew larger. And suddenly, physicians were prescribing LOTS more medicine. Sometimes doctors got a couple dollars kickback for every prescription they wrote for a certain liquor. 

4. Industrial use of alcohol was still legal. Suddenly, lots of industries needed lots more alcohol than they used to.

5. People could legally make hard cider, beer, or wine at home for home use only, so Pabst and AnheuserBusch sold malt extract and other products for home brewing. California grape growers sold wine grapes, which had never fetched more than $30 per ton, for up to $105. The price spiked for a short time in 1924 to $375/ton!!  6. People could still drink any alcohol they had leftover from pre-Prohibition days. Knowing that, many individuals and private clubs stocked many years’ worth of alcohol  in  anticipation. I use this bit in my second mystery, SILVER SCREEN MURDERS, when I mention that Mary Pickford’s mother bought an entire liquor store to stock her basement. Also in the first book, THE IMPERSONATOR, has the wealthy Carr family drinking wines and alcohol from their cellar and Mrs. Carr assures Jessie that it was pre-Prohibition wine. (It wasn’t, but that’s another part of the story.) 


The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: