Time for a Toast: Women, Cast Your Ballots

Raise a Prohibition cocktail to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who drafted Amendment XIX. Enacted today in 1920, it gave American women the right to vote.

In 1878, Anthony and Stanton drafted an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give American women the right to vote and introduced it to Congress, where it sat in limbo for over four decades.

Finally, on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment took effect and there was much rejoicing. However, alcohol was illegal at the time, with Prohibition having just gone into effect seven months earlier, so any "legal" celebratiions had to be dry. Of course, we all know that didn’t stop the booze from flowing. And although supporters of suffrage generally endorsed the temperance movement, the right to vote gave rise to a new brand of post-World War I feminists who threw off constricting Victorian corsets to embrace the frisky, fun-loving flapper lifestyle. And that meant cigarettes, the Charleston and fastening a flask to your inner thigh to sneak booze into speakeasies.

LET’S GET DRUNK AND MAKE LOVE

The emerging feminism found a voice in The New Yorker‘s "Tables for Two" column, penned by Lois Long, who Cambridge historian Joshua Zeitz described in his 2007 book Flapper as "one of the most insightful observers of sex and style in Jazz Age America." Looking back at her life in the 1920s, Long later summed up the flappers’ fast-living philosophy: "All we were saying was, ‘Tomorrow we may die, so let’s get drunk and make love.’"

But not all literary ladies of the Roaring Twenties were so keen on the flapper movement. Dorothy Parker (who turned 27 just a few days before the 19th Amendment was enacted) took a jab at the fad in her poem, "The Flapper," saying that their "manners cause a scene." The Algonquin doyenne also expressed a more moderate—and infinitely more sensible—approach to quenching one’s thirst:

“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.”

So cheers to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who gave America the 19th Amendment—and an excellent reason to tipple through the Roaring Twenties.

MIX IT UP: THE SOUTH SIDE COCKTAIL

For a perfect Prohibition cocktail during summer’s last gasp, you can’t go wrong with the South Side. Though named after the Chicago district where it was a favorite of mobsters during the dry years, the drink’s exact origin is still contested. New York’s illustrious 21 Club, for example, has laid claim to it. They use the following recipe.

Ingredients

2 oz. vodka, gin or white rum
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. fresh mint leaves

Method

Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well enough to bruise the mint leaves and release the mint oil.

Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice.

Garnish with mint leaves.

Enjoy!

BY THE NUMBERS

37 – Number of years the 19th Amendment lay dormant in Congress (a period known as "the doldrums")

31 – Number of votes by which the 19th Amendment won passage in the Senate

51 – Percent of U.S. population that is female

18 – Percent of Congressional seats currently held by women

10 – Amount, in dollars, in 1912, of the budget of the Washington, DC, office of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)

41,368,000 – Number of Susan B. Anthony one-dollar coins minted

30,000 – Number of speakeasies in New York City during Prohibition

7,304,040 – Number of minutes Prohibition lasted

18,000,000 – Number of U.S. citizens who currently live in a dry county

Prohibition Was Repealed 79 Years Ago Yesterday

Raise a glass, you goddamn drunk. It’s thanks to prodigious Boardwalk Empire-style violence in the bootlegging world that teetotalers like Rockefeller reversed their support for the law that said you couldn’t. In the thirteen years prior to 1933, the distillation, serving, and imbibing of booze were tragically illegal in these United States. So apologies in advance, but if you’re not sipping lovely brown Kentucky bourbon at this very moment, you may be arrested for treason.

Okay, it doesn’t have to be bourbon. It just has to be something brewed in this country to count (meaning Budweiser is out; catch the next slow boat to Belgium, pal). Acceptable drinks would be: something microbrewed on Cape Cod, trendy designer small-batch gin, California sparkling wine, or actually-still-illegal moonshine that makes you lose your sense of smell for a few days, no big deal. Canadian Club is permitted for its historic smuggleability.

If possible, drinks should be consumed in public, at a bar or in full view of a police officer. Don’t be fazed when he tries to write you a ticket. Just patiently explain that Prohibition has been off the books nearly a century at this point, so there’s no need for legal penalties. You’ve got the freedom to drink whatever and stumble wherever and throw up on whomever you like—make sure he knows it.

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How Much Will We Suffer This Thanksgiving?

If the alcoholics I heard arguing about it at the bar of my local Mexican restaurant are correct, Thanksgiving is next week. (I know! The alcoholics were stressing too.) And while this sacred celebration of America’s most successful genocide to date is a unique horror to each and every soul made to endure it, there are a couple of common factors by which we can determine who has it worst.

DIVORCED PARENTS EATING TOGETHER: +15 suffering points. What on earth are they thinking? If they loved familial togetherness so much you’d think the marriage would have worked.

GREAT FOOD THAT YOU EAT TOO MUCH OF: +5. Call it the summary punishment of anyone lacking willpower (i.e., everyone).

TERRIBLE FOOD THAT YOU STILL EAT TOO MUCH OF BECAUSE YOU’RE SO HUNGRY: +20. Worst-case scenario.

DRUNK AND/OR RACIST RELATIVE: +10. Can be ignored for a while, but then you’ll hate yourself for not sticking up for Muslims.

DRUNK AND/OR RACIST RELATIVE RECENTLY DECEASED: +11 for having to publicly remember them in a fond light.

ONLY WINE SERVED: +12. Headaches and sleepiness don’t make anything easier (-5 if there’s a dark attic with a daybed in the house).

ATTRACTIVE OLDER COUSIN: +25. You sick bastard.

YOUNGER STICKY COUSIN WHO DOESN’T YET UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF PERSONAL SPACE: +16, or +30 if he dunks his hand in gravy and wipes it on your leg.

STUCK AT KIDS TABLE: +3. Actually not that bad.

HAVE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE HAVING KIDS: +10 if you plan to, +100 if you don’t.

BROUGHT YOUR FUTURE SPOUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME: +13, but +40 for them.

TRAVELED OVER 500 MILES TO GET THERE: +500. God, I pity you.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

London’s Top Bars to Cheers the Olympics

Whether you live in London, are visiting, or just wish you were, it’s hard to ignore our list of London’s top bars to cheers the Olympics. Because when a global event comes to the front lawn of the Buckingham Palace that is all about fulfilling and shattering dreams, you’re gonna need a beer in your hand. And a cocktail. Maybe even a couple of shots. Definitely a funnel. Hell, this is the freaking Olympics.  Let’s all get bloody drunk!

Russians: The Hardest Partiers on the Planet

Clear from your mind every thought of morality, legality, guilt, good manners, and common sense. Taking only your id into account, conjure an image of the ultimate party. There’s food, of course. Rich, decadent fare like steak, lobster, oysters, caviar, and all manner of sweets. Plenty of booze, too, no doubt: fine vodkas and whiskies, wine for the food, champagne for both drinking and spraying. All manner of other intoxicants too, if you like. No dealer’s going to sweat you, no cop will arrest you. Some smoke to let your thoughts soar, some sniffy to get you going? All good. There’s lively music, there’s dancing, and lord are there girls – and guys. They’re hot, they’re naked, and they can’t keep their hands off you, so feel free to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. What else do you need? Hot tubs, saunas, bubbles? Done, done, and done. Here’s heaven on earth: you want it, you take it. Sound enticing? Well, you could keep on imagining it, or you could head on over to Moscow right now, hook up with the right crowd, and do this every night.

Nobody on the planet parties like the Russians. In the west, the ultimate release is to “party like rock stars.” Well, Keith Richards’ wildest night looks like a lazy Tuesday afternoon for some wealthy Muscovites, if this Washington Post article – and my own experiences – are any guide. The story is ostensibly about how Russian office parties are wilder than ever following a few lean years, but it’s not like they ever really slowed down, they were just a bit more cost-conscious. But now we’re back in the big time, where there’s really no such thing as over-the-top because the top hasn’t been found yet.

Strippers danced in glass boxes and fed guests cake. Boxers fought. One woman lay on a table, covered with fruit for guests to eat. Guests fed a caged tiger (borrowed from the circus) raw meat and a caged woman candy. Women who bared only their breasts looked positively modest.

“We were showing all the sins: lust, anger, gluttony,” Blyumenkrants said, declaring the party a great success. “Many of the guests left with the girls.”

Why is it that Russians are able to throw down better than anybody else in the world? Perhaps it can best be explained by the pendulum theory. For three quarters of a century (1917 – 1991) Russians lived under an oppressive regime that stifled creativity and forced collective labor, state-sponsored austerity, and really boring TV shows on the population. Sure, people got drunk, played accordions, and screwed, but outward displays of western-style decadence were not allowed. That created an incredible amount of pent-up demand for unbridled exuberance, which was finally released with the fall of the Soviet system, rise of the country’s oil wealth, and establishment of an easily-bribable thugocracy. And now, at least for the country’s elite, there are absolutely no limits to what you can do if you can afford it – as long as you don’t finance opposition candidates that the Kremlin doesn’t like. People are celebrating accordingly, with “feathers, masks and streamers – and, of course, legions of dancing women unencumbered by very much clothing.”

But it’s not just that. Most Russians I’ve met – and having lived in Riga and traveled through Moscow and St. Petersburg, I’ve met a few – have this innate belief that they can handle suffering and hardship better than anyone else. It’s not that they enjoy pain, but they do seem to revel in being able to sink to the bottom and still have a (dark) sense of humor about it. (Get a Russian man talking about his philosophy on hangovers for more clarity on this.) But when you’ve sunk so low, you feel like you’ve got license to fly high, and that’s what you’re seeing in holiday parties throughout the world’s biggest country.

Think about this: Sure there’s a church, but decades of state-sponsored atheism has all but negated its moral authority, so very few people spend their days in fear of God’s wrath. Political correctness not only doesn’t exist, but the idea of it is laughed at. In every office, the sexy girl is at the reception desk, while the homely lass is in the file room. Yes, there are laws, but every cop in the country except for one can be paid to look the other way no matter what you’re up to. And the Wu-Tang clan may have invented the concept of C.R.E.A.M., but the Russians perfected it over the past two decades. If you can pay for it, you can have it.

I offer no judgements here, and of course, plenty of Russians embrace the ideas of restraint and moderation. But if there’s a modern equivalent of a Roman orgy going on anywhere in the world right now, it’s happening in the Russian Federation. And don’t bother inviting me, because I’m not sure I could even handle it.

[Photographer unknown, but I saw it first on Reddit]

NYC Health Department Makes Spot-On Safe-Drinking Ads

Riding the F train to Manhattan from Brooklyn this morning, I spotted a poster that caught my eye. In it, an attractive, well dressed young woman sits on a set of subway stairs, her head down, knees together, feet apart, the contents of her purse spilled out beneath her. It’s clear she’s been out partying, and even more clear that she’s had a few too many drinks. The caption reads: “Two drinks ago, you could still get yourself home.” Beneath that, it says “Excessive drinking is dangerous. Stop drinking while you’re still thinking.” I find the ad brilliant because it’s so realistic. This is what actually happens. I’ve seen many young women (and men) in similar positions and felt serious concern for their safety. The ad is hardly preachy – it’s undeniably good advice and it makes all that “Drink Responsibly” stuff at the bottom of booze ads look like little more than an insincere, wishy-washy legal disclaimer. The health department’s message of their new campaign is: Of course you can drink, just keep your personal safety in mind and don’t abandon your senses trying to chase the good times. I like these ads a million times more than those disgusting anti-smoking ads that force you to confront rotten teeth and diseased lungs, even if you’re a non-smoker just going to the deli for coffee.

Of course, public service ads like this shouldn’t be the exception, they should be the rule. I don’t know why so many of them either come off as the work of some 18th century temperance movement or a scared-straight film like The Last Prom. (Honestly, I remember my high school driver’s ed class laughing at that film.) For the former approach, get real, people will never stop drinking, so it’s best to accept it and try to keep it safe. For the latter, of course drunk driving is terrible – seriously, if you drive drunk, I don’t want to know you – but people see the smashed metal and tombstones and tune out right away, preferring not to confront such a possibility.

But these new NYC ads are smart because that’s exactly how bad stuff goes down. That’s what drinking too much looks like, and you know it. They ring true because you’ve either been with people who have ended up like that young lady, or you’ve been that young lady (or man) yourself. Another, equally smart ad shows a man with a bloodied face and the caption “Two drinks ago you would have walked away.” It requires no additional information. It makes you think. And yet, it doesn’t make you feel bad. Just a little smarter.

Bravo to the NYC Health Department for finding a message that actually has a chance to work. It’s the holidays. You’re young. You want to have fun. Go ahead and drink. Get drunk if you like. But don’t live it up so hard you can’t live it down.

On the Rocks: Boozing and Losing on the Drinking Man’s Diet

Like so many things, it seemed like a great idea at the time. The holidays were coming up, and that meant that a lot of heavy eating was on the horizon. Why not skip ahead a bit and start a diet now? And why not go for something that had been time-tested? Or, if not exactly time-tested, then something that was at least pretty damn old? And that’s how I began two weeks of cheese, sausage, and roast chicken — as well as lots of Manhattans; whiskey-and-sodas; and red, red, wine. I was taking the Drinking Man’s Diet out for a spin.

First published in 1964, when it wasn’t that odd for well-heeled businessmen to have a couple drinks at lunch and then lots more before dinner, the Drinking Man’s Diet is a very thin book — almost a pamphlet. I took as my main text the revised edition — published forty years later and now billed as the “original low-carb diet,” but with not much else changed inside.

Written by a high-living businessman named Robert W. Cameron, the book and its follow-ups, which include a cookbook, promise to get you in tip-top shape “with a minimum of willpower”. The thinking behind it is simple enough to remember even after you’ve had several belts: you can eat reasonable amounts of anything you want, as long as you keep your carbs down under 60 grams a day (that’s the amount in three medium apples, or three slices of bread). As one contemporary newspaper account put it, this scheme “offers the fat man a code that ignores calories and seems to let [him] gorge on such delights as martinis, avocados, and Camembert.”

This means that just about anything alpha male, at least by Johnson Administration standards, is available in copious quantities. For instance, steak, cheese, salami, pâté, and hard liquor and dry wine could all be eaten in more or less unlimited quantities. Think of it this way — anything that Mad Men’s Don Draper would be likely to be consuming in the company of a pretty girl is probably allowed.

As a “diet which was fun to follow,” at least for a while, it attracted a large subset of people who were as hungry for novelty as they were for saturated fat. In just two years, Cameron sold 2.4 million copies, until growing criticism cramped his style: the doom-saying nutritionist Jean Mayer, for instance, claimed that putting middle-aged Americans on such a diet was “in a sense, equivalent to mass murder.”

Calling the diet a massacre in the making didn’t exactly improve its reputation, and its fame faded. Carbophobes in search of a new fad would have to wait a few years for Dr. Atkins and his less boozy but kinda similar methods to appear.

The diet seems a little peculiar these days, what with everyone crazy for quinoa and only eating chicken if it’s sourced from their very own backyard. But I was still intrigued. Despite the constant dirge about eating less and moving more, I thought that there must be something in a diet whose priorities sounded so similar to my own.

I wanted to be like the “single working mom” whose testimonial on the DMD’s back cover says she “lost nine pounds in three weeks while “still [taking] two 600 p.m. tension-breaking martinis.” Or the promises in the New Drinking Man’s Diet and Cookbook (1967) of “taking out your favorite girl for a dinner of squab and broccoli with hollandaise sauce and Chateau Lafite, to be followed by an evening of rapture and champagne.”

And there’s this, too: the diet may or may not have helped the public lose weight, but it treated its author just fine. Robert W. Cameron died last month at the age of 98 after a long and active career as a publisher and aerial photographer.

My own start on the diet involved neither favorite girls nor squab nor aerial photographs. I began on a random Wednesday morning by cooking a two-egg omelet. With butter. And a few chunks of cheese and keilbasa. And then I headed out to get plastered.

Kidding. Instead, I headed to a local Polish deli to stock up on ham and sausage — if bread is hardly in your life anymore, you may very well end up eating lots of processed meat products to try to fill that void. Be ready to start feeling thirsty, too.

The first few days on the diet I spent mildly nauseated and full of a near-constant desire for toast. I was lethargic, irritated, and usually (TMI!) constipated — all the smoked gouda in the world won’t make up for that. All that bonus red wine did act as partial compensation, especially when I started drinking by six. The day after was never as pretty as it could have been, though.

Reading it now, the journal I wrote while low-carbin’ sounds a little creepy. A short excerpt should be enough to give you the flavor: “Today I ate three [small] cookies at a tea shop … they tasted so good. Managed to stay in bounds by just eating MEAT at night — two chicken legs. And salad is a savior too. No booze, hungover from too much vodka last night. Foods I have thought about a lot include toast, toast, croutons, breading, etc. And was sick of cheese this morning.”

Even the novelty of the wide-open, groaning liquor cabinet had worn off by the start of the second week, to be replaced by near-constant thoughts of, you guested it, toast. By the end of the diet, I reached the conclusion that something’s wrong when half an apple has to be carefully accounted for, but three bourbons are just a fun way to while away a random weeknight.

It was right around this point, when I could hardly look at sausage or cheese any more, that I started going through the Drinking Man’s Diet Cookbook to see what seemed decent.

Although the book had been revised in 2007, there were clear signs that some of the recipes could have done with a bit more fixing up (way-too-dry pork chops recipe, I’m looking at you). Overall, though, the handful of recipes I tried were decent. For instance, a Mexican soup, which was basically meatballs in beef broth, was good as long as you didn’t think about how you could have been having spaghetti and meatballs instead.

Some of the better recipes seemed to be about taking lighter, more healthy preparations and fattening them up: one (admittedly quite tasty) fish dish involved browning fillets in butter, then baking them in the oven with wine. And then it was time to add a little cream and Parmesan cheese and then make everything brown. It all seemed a little overwhelming, especially since there wasn’t going to be any rice around to soak up all that fat. Maybe that’s what all those martinis were for.

The bottom line? I lost about 4 pounds in two weeks — respectable but hardly amazing. And not very long-lasting, either. A couple days later, after welcoming white rice and bread and croutons into my life again, most of it came right back. For me at least, weight loss on this diet was as ephemeral as those really witty thing people say during benders. You remember, those things they say right before they pass out.