Sunday, December 9, 2007

21st Amendment Anniversary

As Professor Bainbridge points out (and I forgot) in Prohibition Yesterday and Today Prohibition ended seventy-four years ago this past Wednesday.

Professor Bainbridge points out how we still try to prohibit what some people think are not good for us, but I want to point out how Prohibition still looms over the alcoholic beverage industry.

Absinthe made a big splash this past year. My attention having been on breweries, beer and cider, I never thought much about absinthe. Looking at the traffic to this blog, absinthe is the only topic attracting attention on the alcoholic beverage front.

The New York Times published A Liquor of Legend Makes a Comeback this past week. For those interested in the liquor only, I suggest clicking on the link now. Others might want to read the following, for it does a good job of describing how tortuous can be the process of getting a product away from the Treasury Department and to the public:

"The division of the Treasury Department that approves alcohol packaging sent back his label seven times, he said. They thought it looked too much like the British pound note. They wondered why it was called Absinthe Verte when their lab analysis said the liquid inside was amber. Mostly, it seemed to him, they didn’t like the monkey."

“I had the image of a spider monkey beating on a skull with femur bones,” Mr. Winters said. But he said that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau thought the label “implied that there are hallucinogenic, mind-altering or psychotropic qualities” to the product.

“I said, ‘You get all that just from looking at a monkey?’”

His frustration came to a sudden end last Wednesday, when he learned the agency had finally granted approval to his St. George Absinthe Verte, the first American-made absinthe on the market in almost a century.

Federal law regulates the labels for alcoholic beverages and those regulations reflect a moralistic concern for the effects of alcoholic beverages on the public.

Another example of Prohibition's linger effect can be found in These farms' cash crop is bottled. Nowadays we think of Prohibition as a federal matter but the battleground was in the states before the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment.