How to Throw the Ultimate Repeal Day Party

Prohibition was repealed 80 years ago, so it's time to celebrate.

December 5, 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition—certainly an occasion worth celebrating with a splash. That’s why we tapped party-planning experts for tips on how to host the ultimate Repeal Day soireé.

Set the scene: The speakeasy theme can start even before attendees arrive, says Erica Schnell, director of The Ice House & Crushed Ice Events in Louisville, Kentucky. “Give your guests a password,” to enter the party—and “create a ‘secret’ entryway at the venue, such as a side door or back door.”

Cue the music: Play a jazz-age soundtrack at your fete, or turn on a Cab Calloway Pandora station. Keep up the audio ambiance with your phone, too. “Change your ringtone to an old-fashioned car horn or early 20th-century telephone, and encourage guests to do the same,” suggests Jorj Morgan, Florida-based entertaining expert and author.

Use booze as décor: Dim the overheads, light lots of candles, and don’t forget about the bathtub, experts say. Filling the tub with ice and using it to chill bottles and brews is a natural reference to Prohibition-era “bathtub gin.” You can also creatively serve cocktails by providing paper bags or using teacups.

Finesse the cocktails: Choose gin and rye whiskey for mixing era-appropriate libations at your bash. Here are two must-make tipples.

Bee’s Knees
Recipe courtesy Lynnette Marrero, cocktail consultant, New York City

2 ounces gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey and hot water, mixed)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe glass.

The Slope
Recipe courtesy of Julie Reiner, as published in Craft Cocktails by Brian Van Flandern (Assouline, 2013)

2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye
1 ounce Punt e Mes sweet vermouth
¼ ounce apricot brandy
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Brandy-soaked cherries, to garnish

Place all ingredients except garnish in a mixing glass. Add large ice cubes and stir thoroughly. Strain into a martini or coupe glass. Garnish with brandy-soaked cherries and serve.

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