Baseball, Apple Pie & Booze: How Alcohol Is Woven Into The Fabric Of America
When the Republican National Convention kicks-off this week, the alcohol will be flowing.
Many bars in Cleveland will be able to stay open an extra 2 hours, until 4 in the morning, thanks to a new Ohio law.
ideastream's Morning Edition host, Katherine Boyd, recently sat down with Cleveland drinks and hospitality consultant Joseph DeLuca, who explained that alcohol is woven into the fabric of American politics:
"Booze and politics have gone hand & hand really since the first constitutional convention," explains Joseph DeLuca. "When you look at the list of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, it's 60 bottles of Madera were drank that day and 50 bottles of rum and 60 bottle of sherry. And we come up to George Washington's first inaugural event and he'd ordered 3 barrels of Barbados rum amongst hundreds of other bottles that were there. Andrew Jackson*, his inaugural party was so bad at the White House that the staff kicked everybody out and locked the doors because they were destroying the White House. It was a complete drunken mess. It was a hot mess, I guess."
"Alcohol and booze and polling has always been connected. We used to ply people to the polls with free drinks. That has now gone by the way wide. We go back to Edgar Allen Poe and his death in Boston. He'd been on a three day jag and voting over and over again and getting free drinks and died of alcohol poisoning. So it's been connected for a long time."
America's drinking was so out of hand that voters approved the 18th Amendment in 1919, which prohibited the sale of alcohol. And it was Cleveland that hosted the first-ever DRY RNC in 1924. But it really wasn't dry:
"By 1924 and the convention, they think we had about 3000 speakeasys in the city, 10,000 illicit stills are running and 30,000 people are somehow connected to the alcohol business in Cleveland," explains DeLuca.
"At that time what are we drinking? We're drinking the bee's knees, which is honey and lemon in bathtub gin. We see America's taste getting sweeter and sweeter in alcohol. Because sugar covers up the taste of really bad alcohol. And when you have a still in your basement over on East 55th it's probably not the cleanest distillant in the world."
Katherine asked, "Let me get this straight, the first RNC Convention that was in Cleveland in 1924 was dry?"
DeLuca answered, "You gotta remember we had a legal source of alcohol right across Lake Erie and they're bringing boats over in the middle of the night and landing in Rocky River, and landing in Lakewood, and in Cleveland. And in the winter time when the lake is frozen they're driving the booze across."
In 1933 Prohibition ended, and when the RNC returned to Cleveland in 1936, things had changed:
"It was wet. People were drinking. And what they were drinking is amazing when you look at cocktail menus from 1936 it's Manhattan, Martini, Daiquiri, Singapore Sling," said DeLuca. "And as we fast forward to next week here in Cleveland… what is old is new again. We are seeing the same drinks on the table. It's going to be a very wet convention this year. There's going to be dozens and dozens and dozens of parties. Every bartender I know will be working crazy hours."
"Have you heard, is there any rumblings on any special focus on cocktails?" Katherine asks.
"You're going to see a lot of red, white and blue cocktails out there next week. Probably a lot of sweet cocktails. Blue cocktails tend to have blue caracul in them, so we'll probably see a lot of grenadine cocktails, maybe off from our classic cocktails and having a little fun, which this should be a fun anyways with all these delegates coming into the city," smiled DeLuca.
To see Joseph DeLuca mix-up a special drink he created just for this week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, called the Pink Elephant, just click the video link on this page.