National Bootlegger’s Day:
Celebrated annually on 17th January, the National bootlegger’s Day is observed to remember the daring bootleggers who supplied thirsty Americans with their spirited drinks even when the government sought to curb alcohol usage. Hold on to your shots as you read the history of the legendary rebels.
Related: Other National Days Celebrated on January 17th:
Why National Bootlegger’s Day?
The story of bootleggers is nothing short of an action-adventure movie, full of danger and daredevils.
Streets filled with revving automobiles and musicians experimenting with Jazz gigs; feisty fashionista’s in their flappers, bobbed hair, and bold makeup that raised both eyebrows of the older conservative population; an era known as the Roaring twenties. A generation that went against the social norms to embrace, “you only live once ” way of life.
Propelled by industrialization and economic prosperity, post-world war I, the youth continued to rave unimpeded till they were faced with a heavy backlash, the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act. These laws forbade the production, consumption, and sale of alcohol. Though the legal means of acquiring alcohol were cut off, the demand for alcohol never simmered down.
The prohibition not only failed to curb alcohol use but also paved the way to the rise of an illegal empire of bootleggers and rum-runners. The term bootleggers first came into usage during the 1800s in the midwest when the liquor trade with the Native Americans was carried out by concealing liquor flasks in boot tops.
Similar practices were carried out during the civil war as the soldiers hid pint bottles in their boots or below their trouser legs and sneaked liquor into their camps. According to the documentary – prohibition, many city dwellers hid liquor in their bootlegs and sold it to major cities. Bootlegging turned into a more organized illegal trade after the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920.
The term bootleggers gained an official place in the American vocabulary when the laws were sanctioned. Rum-running is another term that is closely associated, and it refers to the illegal smuggling of liquor over water, and bootlegging particularly refers to the laundering of alcohol over land. During the prohibition period bootlegging was taken up by the mafia to make use of the opportunity to generate income from the illegal trade and involved big names like Al Capone, Alphonse Kerkhoff, Bugs Moran, and Lucky Luciano.
Many industrious businessmen grabbed the opportunity and began their dangerous journey into a risky career and reaped profits from the ordeal. While alcohol was being smuggled from countries like Canada and Mexico, alcohol distilled within the country was sold to individuals or establishments like the speakeasies.
The Templeton rye was one such product that was born during the prohibition era. It was produced by the residents of Iowa in Templeton. The Templeton rye also popularly known as the “Prohibition cocktail” is an amber-colored whisky. The farmers in Carroll county wanted to boost their income and became the distillers, including the well-known mafia head Alphonse Kerkhoff. Some records state that Alphonse Kerkhoff employed 350 farmers to produce the whiskey.
The whiskey was transported to Chicago via cattle cars and stockyards to speakeasies in Michigan, Omaha, and Kansas City where the whiskey became quite popular. It is said that the Templeton rye whiskey became one of Al Capone’s favorites and was named Capone’s Whiskey. Capone used to particularly serve Templeton rye to his family and friends even when he had a collection of imported alcohol from Canada and elsewhere. Templeton rye thus became a brand that was promoted by Don himself.
The nation heaved a sigh of relief when the dry spell came to an end after the repeal of the Prohibition laws in 1933. As for Templeton rye, the whiskey became an official brand and is produced by a company owned by Scott Bush and Meryl Kerkhoff, the son of Alphonse Kerkhoff, in association with Infinium spirits.
The prohibition-era recipe is still employed to make the Templeton Rye. The rebels proved that there is an opportunity in every seeming way. Bootleggers are the legends who played with fire and lit it up with their smuggling adventures. It’s a day to celebrate the rebel in you and the go-getters who rewrite history, with a glass of Templeton Rye, a decoction reminiscent of the bootlegging days.
How Can We Observe National Bootlegger’s Day:
- Shake up Your Prohibition cocktail
To begin your bartender career use,
1, 1/2oz of Templeton Rye whiskey,
1 oz apple juice,
¾ Oz lemon juice
¾ oz Grenadine
Apple slice for garnish
- Visit The Anarchist Land
You can take a trip to Iowa and visit the Templeton Rye distillery and visitor center, the land where it all began.
- Dig Into Bootlegging History
You can watch the documentary Prohibition or Capone’s Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye and read up on the adventurous history of bootlegging.
- Celebrate Because You Can
The prohibition is done and dusted, it’s time to flaunt your freedom with a glass of whiskey and post your photos using #NationalBootleggersDay and #BootleggersDay
Interesting Facts On National Bootlegger’s Day:
- The Bootleggers Day Is celebrated on 17th January because the law became actively enforced on 17th January. Furthermore, Al Capone’s birthday was on 17th January.
- Captain McCoy, an American sea captain, began to smuggle alcohol to Florida from Bimini and the Bahamas at the beginning of the prohibition period.
- Captain McCoy was known to sell only top brands unadulterated even when many dealers added water to the booze to gain profits. His name was used in the phrase ‘The real McCoy’.
- The prohibition period and bootlegging gangs led to a rise in organized crime and gang wars compared to previous years.
- Boardwalk Empire is an American series based on the prohibition period and portrays the bootlegging days and the characters involved.
History Of National Bootlegger’s Day:
The National Bootlegger’s Day was founded and observed in 2015 by Infinium Spirits. Though they sell several branded beverages, Templeton rye is given a special day owing to its origin and history.