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TheStreet Open House

These Cocktails Will Have You Praising Prohibition

LAS VEGAS ( TheStreet) -- This past Wednesday marked the 79th anniversary of the U.S. ratification of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, making the sale and distribution of liquor legal and once again allowing the alcoholic arts to flourish within our country. Mixologists celebrated "Repeal Day" with special creations and slashed prices, some of which will be available throughout December, others earning permanent placement on cocktail menus. TravelsinTaste highlights some of the most notable concoctions:

Sin City should be the obvious first choice for prohibition-inspired cocktails. Last week Rick Moonen's rm Seafood teamed with Moet Hennessy USA for a Prohibition era-themed happy hour. In addition to quenching guests' thirst with a variety of vintage cocktails, the restaurant offered an assortment of small plates including Shrimp Larb Potstickers, Beef Meatballs with Tomato Gravy, Chinese Black Bean Clams, Mini RM Albacore Tuna Melts and Buffalo-style blue point oysters. Guests were encouraged to get in the mood by donning period attire.

Missed it? No need to fret, as two of lead bartender J.R. Starkus' cocktails have made their way to the December cocktail menu: the Stober Again (a tribute to the lead bartender's friend, Matt Stober, in the form of a brilliantly mixed drink of Hennessy, Grand Mariner and Angostura) and the 21>18 (Glenmorangie LaSanta, fresh lemon, ginger syrup, Angostura and Veuve yellow label).

"Repeal Day is essentially the Independence Day for people that enjoy wine, beer or a great cocktail," Starkus says. "I personally love Repeal Day because, without it, I certainly wouldn't be making my living working in the cocktail industry. That's where 21>18 comes from -- the fact that the 21st amendment is better than the 18th, at least from my point of view."

Also in Las Vegas, at Aria Resort & Casino, American Fish by Michael Mina announced a cocktail menu of innovative twists on classic cocktails. The mixologists are teaching the Strip history lessons, applying cutting-edge techniques to tell the tales behind our nation's legendary libations and their modern-day counterparts.

The Vieux Carre, translated to "Old Square," is named after the French Quarter of New Orleans, the city credited as the birthplace of the American cocktail. A well-balanced blend of Sazerac six-year rye whiskey, Hennessy VS cognac, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura bitters and Peychaud's bitters, the cocktail in its original form was the signature cocktail at the famous Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans; American Fish's twist is garnished with a lemon peel to add zest.

The restaurant's Sloe Gin Fizz celebrates the early 1900s "fizz sensation." In 1887, the ultimate mixology manual, The Bartender's Guide, introduced the technique to the world. There are now a multitude of Sloe Gin Fizz recipes around, but American Fish's version takes the cocktail back to its roots by combining egg whites with sloe gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. The mixture is topped with club soda and swiftly shaken, perfecting the fizz on this highly coveted libation.

Another creation of American Fish's mixologists is Remember the Maine. Named in remembrance of the 1898 sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor, which sparked the Spanish-American War, the classically inspired drink combines Bulleit rye whiskey, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, cherry Heering and absinthe served with a brandied cherry garnish.

Meanwhile David Myers' Comme Ca West Hollywood has an "18a" cocktail program inspired by Prohibition and the 18th Amendment (hence the name), which includes such libations as bartender Jeff Knudsen's Ward Eight, a delicious mix of bourbon, luxardo cherries and citrus juice; the Aviation No. 1, which combines gin with creme de violette and lemon; and The Negroninno, a unique concoction of gin, Campari and amaro noninno.

New York's most notable speakeasy-turned-restaurant, the "21" Club, celebrates the end of Prohibition every day by nature of its historical roots. Founded by Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns, "21" is best known for its secret wine cellar and its inventive way of hiding and destroying liquor during police raids in Prohibition-era Manhattan. Among the club's most famous guests was former New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, who had his own room in the wine cellar during the 1920s so he could imbibe while federal agents checked the restaurant for contraband liquor. Here prohibition can be celebrated in style all year.

There's no need for it to be Repeal Day for one to celebrate with a classic cocktail. Cheers!

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