Local bars celebrate a real drinking holiday: the repeal of Prohibition | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Local bars celebrate a real drinking holiday: the repeal of Prohibition

"It's the day that set everything in motion for us."

Although there are plenty of holidays that are celebrated by engaging in excessive drinking, the logic behind the boozing is often quite misplaced. Cinco de Mayo, a bacchanalia best known for getting hammered on tequila and Tecate, commemorates a Mexican victory against the French army in 1862. But revelers often regard it — incorrectly — as Mexican Independence Day (which is actually Sept. 16).

Oddly enough, one holiday that logically should be a terrific drunken bash has gone largely uncelebrated.

Repeal Day recognizes the ratification of the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933. The amendment ended Prohibition, releasing hordes of American revelers from speakeasies. "It's the day that set everything in motion for us to do what we're doing today," says Lynn Falk of Acacia, on East Carson Street.

And this year, a number of Pittsburgh's cocktail-focused bars are finally having a party.

Falk says Acacia will celebrate with free punch and drink specials. He's partnering with Maggie's Farm Rum, and a portion of the evening's proceeds will go to the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association to raise money to help restore a nearby park.

In Lawrenceville, Tender Bar + Kitchen welcomes Lisa Laird, owner of Laird & Company, the oldest commercial distillery in the United States. For $65, revelers can expect a welcome cocktail and a four-course dinner paired with drinks, plus tasting notes and distillery education from Laird.

Downtown, Butcher and the Rye is throwing a grand party sponsored by Pernod Ricard and 21st Amendment Brewery. Bar manager Mike Mills says that for a $25 cover, revelers can expect free burlesque dancers, drink specials and a few other surprises. An RSVP is required — capacity for the party is 50 people — and Prohibition-era costumes are encouraged.

Mills says that one lingering effect of Prohibition is the derision of bartending as a legitimate profession. "Passionate people treat this [bartending] as a career," says Mills. And Repeal Day "is a day to celebrate what we are doing."

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