I have become a bit obsessed with Prohibition. I just finished a great book called When The Rivers Ran Red, which chronicled Prohibition in Sonoma County and the impact that it had on the winemakers and the wine industry. I rejoiced along with the winemakers with the Repeal of Prohibition. We thought that we would throw a discussion of Repeal Day into the mix to make sure that everyone knew Prohibition ultimately had a happy ending after many years of misery. Repeal Day is celebrated around the United States every year and each year, the celebration grows. For Repeal Day 2011, DOTW took to the road and journeyed across the country to spend it with our friends at the Left Coast Bartenders Guild in Tampa Bay, Florida.
The folks in Tampa threw one helluva party and made some truly amazing drinks. The Repeal Day Soiree was held at the historic Don Vicente Inn with party goers attired in 1920’s and 1930’s attire. If I didn’t know better, I could have truly thought that I stepped back in time. The folks at the Left Coast Bartender’s Guild divided the Don Vicente into periods, starting with drinks popular before Prohibition in the basement (and made some amazing syrups for those drinks from original recipes). The party goer then ventured to the ground level where Prohibition era cocktails were being served. If you could make it past the bottom and first floor to the second floor, you had the punch room (my personal fave), the patio that payed homage to the drinks of Cuba and different tasting rooms serving more modern tipples.
It was truly heartening to see the incredible cocktails being whipped up in Tampa. While we have been spoiled living in San Francisco, it’s clear that the cocktail renaissance is spreading across the country and is alive and well in Tampa. Hopefully our friends in Tampa will throw another Repeal Day Party next year. In the meantime, if you go to Tampa, try some drinks at Ciro’s, SideBern’s (or the original Burns Steakhouse, which looked like they were whipping up some pretty mean cocktails) and Fly Bar (sister to the Fly Bar in San Francisco).