After 13 long years of Prohibition, the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933, making it once again legal to consume alcohol in the United States. If you think about it, there were no bars, liquor stores or dance clubs you could run out to and raise a toast.
Maybe your grandma dug out the stash of gin she buried in her knicker drawer, or maybe your grandpa took to the streets with his medicinal pint of whiskey. Whatever the case, we assume bars soon sprang up in neighborhoods and metropolitan areas within the year.
So while Dec. 5, 1933, might not have been as huge of a party as we’d like to think, we bet Dec. 5, 1934, was an absolute throw-down. And now, 84 years later, your ancestors will be proud that we’re still celebrating that monumental milestone.
Prohibition nearly wiped out downtown Louisville’s thriving Whiskey Row, but brick by brick, distillery by distillery, we are reclaiming the heyday of our heritage.
Here’s a look at a few Repeal Day parties going on in town — on Tuesday, Dec. 5 — but if these don’t tickle your fancy, we suggest you raise a toast in whatever way you see fit — whether that’s with a glass of Kool-Aid or a shot of Fireball.
Party Like It’s 1933 — Bubba’s 33 — 4 p.m.
If you’re over in Clarksville Tuesday night, might as well stop in for a $3.33 cheeseburger and 33-cent wings. Oh, but you want to celebrate the end of Prohibition, too? How about $3.33 drinks like the house margarita, Trash Can Punch, LITs and/or a large domestic draft beer? Sounds like a pretty good deal if you’re in the neighborhood.
Repeal Day Party — La Chasse — 5 p.m.
You can’t go wrong with Prohibition-era cocktails, live music by Keven Rees and lots of whiskey. We also hear La Chasse will have half-price pours of absinthe and Fernet, and decent food specials as well. Costumes are encouraged at this one.
Repeal Party & Old 502 Winery Fifth Anniversary Celebration — Over the 9 — 5:30 p.m.
Old 502 Winery is rolling two reasons to celebrate into one evening of fun. The downtown winery turns 5 this year, and also, well, we can still drink alcohol legally. The free party includes live music by Robbie Bartlett and VOICES of Kentuckiana, plus tastings from Old 502, Rabbit Hole, Falls City, Cellar Door Chocolates and more.
There’s never been a better time to roll a bourbon barrel down Frankfort Avenue than on Repeal Day. And yes, this is really happening. Anyone interested in this event can follow the rolling Maker’s Mark barrel from The Wine Rack (2632 Frankfort Ave.) at 5:30 p.m. to Bourbons Bistro (2255 Frankfort Ave.), and then enjoy tastings of that privately selected barrel and appetizers. Tickets are $25 for the tasting and apps, or $100 for everything above, plus a bottle of the special Maker’s.
Repeal Day in the Brewgrass — Against the Grain — 6 p.m.
With the tagline of “Happy days are beer again,” this event marks the release of a Prohibition-style cocktail beer called The Last Wort. It’s an imperial pilsner aged in gin barrels with chartreuse spices and maraschino cherries, which all sounds pretty tasty. In true 1933 fashion, the bar will offer bean soup and cornbread as well. Plus, you have a chance to win a supply of home-brewing tools. Admission is free.
Repeal Day Whiskey Tasting — Westport Whiskey & Wine — 7 p.m.
The fine folks who own this local liquor store are hosting a blind tasting of American whiskeys from each decade — you know, to toast how far we’ve come and all. This sounds like lots of fun, and a great way to taste some products from other decades. Reservations are necessary, admission is $20 per person.
Repeal Day Bourbon Dinner — Varanese — 7 p.m.
If you want something more fancy than raising a glass, how about raising three glasses and a flight of bourbon? Varanese has teamed up with Old Forester for this dinner that’ll include four courses paired with a variety of Old Fo bourbons and three original cocktails. Reservations are $60 a person.
Fourth Anniversary Repeal Day Taco Tuesday — Meta — 7 p.m.
That’s quite a name for a party, but we like birthdays, Repeal Day and tacos as much as the next guy. Meta turns 4 on Tuesday, so they’re celebrating both occasions with classic cocktails made with Maker’s Mark, El Tesoro Tequila and the bar’s own Cruzan Rum Single Barrel Pick — separate drinks, of course. Also, let it be known, there will be a free taco bar!
Repeal Day Swing Night — Jimmy Can’t Dance — 8 p.m.
Not only can you enjoy live throwback music by Billy Goat Strut Revue, but attendees can partake in a free swing dance lesson at 8 p.m., before the music starts. Plus — our favorite part — there will be no cover, so if you haven’t yet checked out downtown jazz club Jimmy Can’t Dance, Tuesday is your chance.
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And one for the road … Taj has decided to celebrate its Repeal Day on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Here’s the details on that:
Repeal Day After — Taj Louisville — 8 p.m.
Might as well keep the party going. On Wednesday, Taj gets into Repeal Day spirit with $2 shots of Old Grand Dad, $4 Old Fashioneds and $8 flights of Old Forester. Plus, there will be black-and-white movies playing, a Prohibition-themed photo booth and jazz/swing music by Ethel Loveless, Stephanie Dicks and Derby City Dandies. And speaking of Old Forester, Taj has helped select its own private barrel, so you can buy a bottle of that to take home as well. Admission is free.
This story has been updated.