Bars, saloons and taverns hold a mirror to society. As cultures and economies evolve, so do the ways their people do or don\u2019t drink alcohol, especially in public.\r\n\r\nThis is particularly evident for women and other marginalized communities. Leaf through historical texts and you\u2019ll see a singular theme: public drinking spaces are always patriarchal, whether they are policed by individual families, the state, religious groups or some combination thereof.\r\n\r\nOf course, history books rarely tell the whole story, and would-be drinkers often find ways to sidestep restrictions. Underground bars and secret spaces, like the ladies\u2019 drinking rooms, snugs, speakeasies and tavern offshoots, have also welcomed women over the years. In doing so, they reveal a lot about both their patrons and their so-called polite societies.\r\nLong before the speakeasy, there was the snug\r\nBritish \u201csnugs\u201d appeared some 120 years before the advent of the U.S. Prohibition-era speakeasy. They were small, private rooms that appeared after Britain\u2019s Beer Act of 1830 that eased regulations and open markets for the sale and on-premise consumption of alcohol. Here, women could drink shielded from the public eye.\r\n\r\nBritish snugs were often more ornately decorated spaces, a place where middle- and upper-class women\u00a0could\u00a0drink\u00a0in comfort and privacy away from the debauchery of the saloon. The drinks cost a little more, but it wasn\u2019t just women who used them.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n"Anyone who didn\u2019t want to [be] seen\u00a0drinking [would visit a snug]\u2014the local constabulary, the clergy, politicians,\u201d says Dr. Nicola Nice, a sociologist and founder of Pomp & Whimsy, a gin liqueur based on the\u00a0women\u00a0distillers and drinkers of the 1800s. \u201cIt was also a place for married men to bring their mistresses.\u201d\r\n\r\nTo an extent, these drinking rooms were the original speakeasies, Nice suggests. Snugs were a place where activities frowned upon by society and the law happened away from judgment and scrutiny.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe expansion of women\u2019s drinking rooms\r\nWomen\u2019s drinking rooms, generally offshoots of taverns with separate entrances, increased in popularity throughout the 1800s. Many public bars, especially in England, but also in the U.S., created private entrances for\u00a0women. In addition to providing a haven for activity of ill repute, they also aimed to hide women from men\u2019s vulgarities like spittoons and lewd conduct, while also shielding men from having to see women get drunk.\r\n\r\nJeanette Hurt, cocktail historian and author of\u00a0Drink\u00a0Like a Woman, refers to the "architectural oddity" in many historic taverns in her home state of Wisconsin.\r\n\r\n"They have a front door, a back door and a side door,\u201d says Hurt. \u201cThis side door was the\u00a0women's entrance. Men didn't want to\u00a0drink\u00a0with\u00a0women, but\u00a0women, especially German\u00a0women,\u00a0did\u00a0drink.\u201d\r\n\r\nThough the saloon-going women were adventurous. In her book, Women and Public Drinking, 1890-1920.: Women in the New World, the late historian Madelon Powers argued that they were not agitators. They craved sociability, but not necessarily equity, and gave the main bar a wide berth.\r\nNotably, Prohibition was also heavily supported by the Ku Klux Klan as a means to \u201cclean up\u201d society. Hate groups fought against drinking rooms and speakeasies in part due to their ability to draw in customers across color and gender divides.\r\nBefore drinking in public was accepted\r\nWomen\u2019s public drinking in the 19th and early 20th centuries challenged firmly entrenched ideas on morality, piety, class structure and social standing. While drinking in public was permitted for men, women were expected to stay home during the Georgian and Victorian periods.\r\n\r\nThis prescribed role as homemaker saw household and cookery books of the time, written for women, devote entire chapters to alcoholic beverages. Homemaking tomes like Mrs Beeton\u2019s Book of Household Management (published in 1861) contained recipes for drinks like the Sloe Gin Cocktail, Strawberry Fizz and Silver Sour, which helped increase the popularity of mixed drinks.\r\n\r\nHowever, up until the mid-19th century, tavern-keeping was considered a respectful occupation for women. The origination of the cocktail, in some circles, is attributed to Catherine "Kitty" Hustler, an innkeeper said to have created a gin-based cocktail in 1778.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nUnfortunately, as saloon culture changed, so did the public\u2019s views on women and alcohol.\r\n\r\n\u201cWomen\u00a0who occupied the masculine world of working,\u00a0drinking\u00a0and debauchery were prostitutes, or viewed as such and were treated as social outcasts,\u201d says Nice. These images endured through the Prohibition years. The rhetoric that surrounded\u00a0women\u2019s\u00a0drinking\u00a0was bound into class, biology, motherhood and sexuality.\r\n\r\n"This has had a lasting cultural impact on the perceptions of\u00a0women\u00a0as drinkers in [the U.S.]"\r\n\r\nRace was another factor often ignored by texts that documented drinking norms of the time.\r\n\r\n\u201cDrinking at this time was not just gendered,\u201d says historian Kerry Knerr. \u201cIt was also highly classed and raced.\u201d Bars became very desirable for elite white men in particular, Knerr says, \u201cand very suspect for women of any class or racial background.\u201d\r\n\r\nNotably, Prohibition was also heavily supported by the Ku Klux Klan as a means to \u201cclean up\u201d society. Hate groups fought against drinking rooms and speakeasies in part due to their ability to draw in customers across color and gender divides.\r\n\r\n\r\nTemperance, suffrage and the industrial revolution\r\nBut just how did the disparity in drinking habits between Western men and women develop? One theory has its roots in the Industrial Revolution.\r\n\r\n"Over the course of the Industrial Revolution came a change in how people worked, and consequently a division between public and private spaces,\u201d says Nice. Before this, men and\u00a0women\u00a0worked and socialized together at home, in villages and communities. There was little difference between economic and social activity.\r\n\r\nAfter industrialization, men\u00a0were believed to be more suited to work of the public sphere, while\u00a0upper- and middle-class women were steered toward private domestic work.\r\n\r\n\u201cAt this point, men and women stopped working together, and also drinking\u00a0together,\u201d says Nice.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhile men were deemed to be physically stronger, they were viewed as morally weaker. Saloon culture developed alongside the concept of leisure time. Men were drawn from their homes with the lure of inebriation, gambling and prostitution.\r\n\r\n"In essence, it became the woman\u2019s job to provide a counterbalance to the moral taint of the public sphere, and with it, the taint of liquor,\u201d says Nice.\r\n\r\nAlcohol was perceived to be one of the biggest barriers to\u00a0this, as women watched their husbands squander their incomes and reputations away in the saloons from which they were excluded.\r\n\r\n"Women began to realize their political powerlessness and the male politicians were disinclined to do anything about it,\u201d says Nice.\u00a0\u201cAnd so temperance and suffrage became one movement.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile women led the charge for temperance, it wasn\u2019t exactly drinking they were against. \u201cThey were ultimately campaigning against the terrible things drunk men did to women,\u201d says Hurt.\r\nClass, gender and the impact of ladies drinking rooms\r\nWhile many upper- and middle-class women were consigned to homemaker roles after the Industrial Revolution, those from poor and working-class backgrounds were expected to take care of household duties as well as work long shifts, often in labor-intensive positions in mines and factories.\r\n\r\nWorking-class women in particular began to frequent American ladies\u2019 drinking rooms. They often bought the six-cent beer in order to partake in the \u201ctrimmins,\u201d or free meal that came with it, often the only daily sustenance available to working-class Americans prior to 1920.\r\n\r\nAs Powers\u00a0notes, the separate entrance demonstrates that\u00a0women\u00a0were considered a separate class of customer.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cThe gender role crisis deeply affected working-class urban women,\u201d says Knerr. \u201cMany were immigrants with circumscribed access to domestic spaces, especially in tenements\u2026.Single-gender drinking rooms offered one solution to this problem.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn the hotter months, women often drank on rooftops and communal spaces. Powers explains that women (and children) would arrive through the saloon\u2019s side entrance to have buckets or growlers filled with beer.\r\n\r\nHistorical records have not devoted as much space to the role and reasons behind women\u2019s public and private drinking during this period as it has with men. But the modern romanticizing of speakeasy cocktail bars has put a soft-focus lens on the drinking culture of previous eras. In reality, these spaces were as nuanced and complex as history itself.