September 2014, Somerville


backbar, union square (sonya kovacic)

backbar, union square (sonya kovacic)

"What America now needs is a drink!"

- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.

Prohibition in the United States from 1920-1933, banned the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcohol. What it did not do was stop people from drinking alcohol. During Prohibition, Americans frequented speakeasies, places that sold alcohol illegally. Boston alone had around 4,000 speakeasies. It was during this time that the cocktail grew in popularity. Because alcohol was mostly bootlegged, and the quality of liquor was poor, mixers were needed to mask the flavor. Some popular Prohibition-era cocktails included:

The French 75
Gin Rickey
Mint Julep
Old Fashioned

Modern speakeasies have been popping up in Boston for the past few years and are characterized by serving Prohibition-style cocktails. Some of them even have hidden entrances. Below is a brief list of Boston's modern speakeasies:

Backbar (Union Square, Somerville)
Brick and Mortar (Central Square, Cambridge)
Drink (Fort Point, Boston)
The Hawthorne (Comm Ave, Boston)
Highball (Downtown Boston)
Jim Curley (Downtown Boston)
Saloon (Davis Square, Somerville)
Wink and Nod (South End, Boston)

The Boston Public Library has a collection of almost 40,000 photographic negatives from photographer Leslie Jones. Jones, who was a staff reporter for the "Boston Herald Traveler" from 1917-1956, documented everyday life in Boston in the 20th century. One photo from his collection is of a speakeasy... after a raid.