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Connecticut Town Considers Repealing Prohibition

Connecticut Town Considers Repealing Prohibition

Last dry town in Connecticut considers getting its drink on

Wikimedia/ M. Weinert

Bridgewater, Conn., is considering letting go of its status as the last dry town in Connecticut.

In 2014 still being under the iron grip of Prohibition might give a town a fun point of interest to talk about, but it does not do much to make people want to move there. The affluent community of Bridgewater, Conn., is facing just that problem. The last dry town in Connecticut has no bars or restaurants, and the average age of the town’s residents has gone up to 50.

According to the Associated Press, Bridgewater is 60 miles north of New York and has a medium household income of about $100,000. But it has a lot of homes for sale, and not many people are buying. Currently the only restaurant in town is a deli located in one of the local stores.

"The town definitely needs a boost," said First Selectman Curtis Read.

Two restaurants have been proposed for the town, but the developers say opening the restaurants is contingent upon being able to serve alcohol. One of the proposed restaurants would be a pub-style place where people could gather to have a pint. Not everyone is behind the repeal, though.

“I feel people moved here because Bridgewater is the way it is and I'd like to keep it that way," said Cynthia Bennett, whose grandmother led the charge to keep Prohibition going in Bridgewater after the 21st Amendment repealed it in 1933. "I'm not saying you don't, say, have a game of horseshoes and have a beer. There's plenty of it in Bridgewater."


Du Pont Hotel Cocktail

The Renaissance-style Hotel du Pont opened to great fanfare in 1913. Pierre S. du Pont was president of the DuPont Company, one of the largest chemical companies in the world. He conceived the idea to give the city of Wilmington, Delaware, the most beautiful hotel in the country. During the first week of operation, 25,000 people streamed into the building to view this no-expense-spared hostelry. Guests could dine in the elegant Green Room, lodge in one of 300 guest rooms and enjoy the theater all under one roof. A palatial 1,220-seat theater called the Playhouse was built within the walls of the hotel. The theater’s construction was considered to be a remarkable technical feat of its day. The hall showcased Broadway’s dress rehearsals and local performances.

For decades, the Hotel du Pont’s Grill Room was the social heart for Delawareans. It featured a long bar, welcoming fireplace, and wainscoting and pillars decorated with beer-drinking and card-playing gnome carvings. After dining in the exclusive Green Room, patrons would walk down the rose marble staircase to the Grill Room, enjoy a cocktail and dance to five-star orchestras and bands. During Prohibition, the Grill Room served only lunch, but a well-known bootlegger delivered whiskey to hotel guests hidden in men’s and ladies’ clothing boxes with the logos of Wilmington’s finest shops. Mr. du Pont, although a conservative drinker, did not agree with Prohibition and worked toward its repeal. He helped draft liquor laws for Delaware as the chairman of the Delaware State Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

The Hotel du Pont’s guest rooms featured nylon upholstery, curtains, and rugs. It was DuPont that developed and introduced this synthetic fiber to epic crowds at the 1939–40 New York World’s Fair. Live models “Miss Chemistry” and “Miss Nylon” wore and demonstrated nylon stockings as an inexpensive alternative to wearing silk. Consumer production halted during World War II as DuPont manufactured nylon exclusively for war materials. As soon as the war ended, nylon riots ensued throughout the nation with women lining up by the thousands to purchase a limited supply of hosiery. The use of nylon fabrics in blouses, scarves, gloves, dresses, and hats made fashionable clothing affordable to the mass-market.

The Grill Room was bursting with 400 celebrants on New Year’s Eve in 1947. Dinner and dancing returned to the hotel after a long hiatus due to the war. Women donned evening gowns and were seen on the arms of soldiers in dress uniforms. A toast to the end of the war and a sip of the Du Pont Hotel cocktail was a perfect way to welcome in a hopeful 1948.

— Diane Lapis and Anne Peck-Davis

Excerpted from Cocktails Across America By Diane Lapis and Anne Peck-Davis. Published by Countryman Press, copyright © 2018 Diane Lapis and Anne Peck-Davis.


States that permit localities to go dry Edit

33 states have laws that allow localities to prohibit the sale (and in some cases, consumption and possession) of liquor. Still, many of these states have no dry communities. Three states—Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee—are entirely dry by default: counties specifically must authorize the sale of alcohol in order for it to be legal and subject to state liquor control laws.

    specifically allows cities and counties to elect to go dry by public referendum. [1] specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum. [2] specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum. [3] specifically allows local jurisdictions to enact liquor laws that are stricter than state law. [4] specifically allows cities and counties to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to go dry. [5] specifically allows towns to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to go dry. [6] 's state constitution allows specifically defined local districts to elect to go dry by public referendum. [7] specifically allows counties to elect to go dry by public referendum. [8] specifically allows any local jurisdiction to go dry, without limitation on how that decision is made. [9] allows local jurisdictions to prohibit sale of liquor by the drink by public referendum, [10] but because all retail package sales are controlled by the state, no local jurisdiction may prohibit package liquor sales for consumption off-premises. is dry by default counties have to choose to allow liquor sales in order for liquor to be sold at all in the county. [11] (seeAlcohol laws of Kansas) specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum. [12] The Kentucky Constitution implies that the default wet/dry status of any local subdivision reflects the state of its local laws at the time that statewide prohibition ended. [13] specifically allows local jurisdictions to go dry, without limitation on how that decision is made. [14] specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum. [15] requires that a series of questions of whether to go dry be placed on each municipality's local ballot every two years, unless the municipality has voted to allow or prohibit liquor sales in three such consecutive elections. [16] allows any city, village, or township in which there are no retail liquor licenses to prohibit the retail sale of alcoholic liquor within its borders by passage of an ordinance. [17] allows any local jurisdiction to enact laws that are stricter than state liquor law, including completely prohibiting the sale, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. [18] is dry by default local jurisdictions have to choose to allow liquor sales in order for liquor to be sold at all in the county. [19] specifically allows local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum. [20] specifically allows local jurisdictions to exercise control over the sale of alcoholic beverages in retail establishments (liquor stores, restaurants) and to limit or refuse to issue retail licenses. [21] is wet by default, but dry on Sundays until noon. Law does, however, allow for local jurisdictions to elect to go dry by public referendum. [22] specifically allows cities and counties to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to go dry. [23] (seeAlcohol laws of New York) allows certain classes of local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to go dry. [24] state law allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor. [25] state law allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor. [26] allows certain classes of local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the on-premises sale of liquor. [27] is dry by default local jurisdictions must choose whether to allow liquor sales in order for liquor to be sold. [28] (seeAlcohol laws of Tennessee) allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option to decide whether it is "wet" or "dry," and does not limit how that decision shall be made. [29] allows municipalities to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor. [30] allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor. [31] allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor. [32] allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor. [33] allows local jurisdictions to exercise a local option by public referendum whether to prohibit the sale of liquor. [34]

States that preclude dry communities Edit

17 states have laws that preclude the existence of any dry counties whatsoever:

    prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting any alcohol laws stricter than state law. [35] As a result, no dry communities can exist in Arizona. does not allow for any local control of liquor beyond licensing of manufacture and sale. [36] only allows for local control as to the "number, kind and classification of licenses, for sale at retail of alcoholic liquor," but such local control cannot supersede state law, thereby preventing any local jurisdiction from going dry. [37] 's comprehensive state alcohol laws only allow local liquor boards to issue liquor licenses for sale and manufacture all other regulation of alcohol is an operation of state law. [38] state law specifically requires each county's liquor board to allow liquor licenses and follow the provisions of state liquor law. [39] As a result, there can be no dry cities or counties in Iowa. prohibits local jurisdictions from imposing restrictions on licensing that are stricter than state law. [40] state law specifically prohibits any counties, or unincorporated city or town from banning the retail sale of liquor, but only allows incorporated cities to ban the sale of liquor by the drink by public referendum. [41] No incorporated Missouri cities have ever chosen to hold a referendum banning alcohol sales. In addition, Missouri state law specifically supersedes any local laws that restrict the sale of alcohol. [42] (seeAlcohol laws of Missouri) state law vests control of alcoholic beverages solely in the power of the state, although county voters may, by initiative, prohibit alcohol sales. [43][44] The Crow Indian Reservation and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation are fully dry. Since the Reservations are considered federal lands, state laws do not apply. Tribal law bans possession and sale of alcohol completely, even if not tribal members. only grants local governing bodies authority to approve applications and deny licenses pursuant to state law. [45] state law specifically requires each county's board of county commissioners to allow liquor licenses and follow the provisions of state liquor law. [46] As a result, there can be no dry cities or counties in Nevada, except that a few rural jurisdictions are grandfathered into the ability to still be partially or totally dry. state law provides that each local jurisdiction's liquor board must allow liquor licenses, and sets the range of allowable fees. [47] state law requires the liquor ordinances of municipalities and counties to conform to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, and prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting penalties more severe than those of the state law. [48] As a result, there can be no dry cities or counties in Oklahoma. (seeAlcohol laws of Oklahoma) 's Liquor Control Act, which is "designed to operate uniformly throughout the state," specifically replaces and supersedes "any and all municipal charter enactments or local ordinances inconsistent with it," thereby precluding dry communities in Oregon. [49] state law vests control of alcoholic beverages solely in the power of the Commonwealth. [50] state law vests control of alcoholic beverages exclusively in the power of the state, although counties are permitted to restrict the hours of operation of locations that sell alcohol. [51] state law provides that local jurisdictions only may enact alcohol control legislation that does not conflict with state law, thereby precluding the ability of communities to go dry. [52] state law provides that each local jurisdiction's liquor board must allow liquor licenses. [53]

Of the 67 counties in Alabama, none are completely dry, 26 are partially dry or "moist" (these counties contain cities that have voted to allow alcohol sales), and 41 are completely wet.In 2014 the municipalities of Oneonta, Blountsville and Cleveland in Blount County went wet, and in 2016 the municipalities of Ashland and Lineville in Clay County went wet. [54] Within those 23 "moist" counties, 41 city governments have legalized alcohol sales inside their city limits.

  • In order for an Alabama city or county to hold a wet-dry vote, 25% of the voters in the preceding general election must sign a petition requesting a vote. A city must have a population in excess of 1,000 residents in order to have a referendum to go wet. [55] Petitions can be made to go from dry to wet or wet to dry.

Three terms describe Alaskan villages in common usage:

  • A "dry village" bans both the sale and possession of alcohol.
  • A "wet village" permits both the sale and possession of alcohol.
  • A "damp village" permits possession of alcohol but bans the sale of it.

There is wide variation of restrictions placed on the possession and movement of alcohol in the "damp" villages, some villages permit residents to order alcohol from stores outside the ban area and have it shipped in, while other villages require the person owning the alcohol to personally bring the alcohol into their jurisdiction.

Beer, wine and liquor cannot be purchased in grocery stores. Convenience stores and gas stations that sell alcohol must have a separate section with a separate entrance, and separate cash registers.

    has 75 counties, 34 of which are dry, and all alcohol sales are forbidden statewide on Sundays (Packaged beer and wine sales are currently allowed on Sundays in the cities of Altus, Eureka Springs, Springdale and Tontitown additionally, licensed microbreweries can sell growlers for carry-out on Sundays) and on Christmas Day. The issue is more complex than that, however, since any local jurisdiction (county, municipal, etc.) can exercise control over alcohol laws via public referendum. For this reason, some cities like Jacksonville, are dry despite being located in a "wet" county. In Fort Smith the same situation exists but with a wet city existing in an otherwise dry county. A city or municipality can elect to go dry in a wet county, but a city or municipality cannot elect to go wet in a dry county. Occasionally, in counties with two county seats, one district may be wet and the other dry, such as Sebastian and Logan Counties.
  • Dry counties (with county seat(s) in parentheses): Ashley (Hamburg), Bradley (Warren), Clay (Corning/Piggott), Cleburne (Heber Springs), Craighead (Jonesboro/Lake City), Crawford (Van Buren), Faulkner (Conway), Fulton (Salem), Grant (Sheridan), Hempstead (Hope), Hot Spring (Malvern), Howard (Nashville), Independence (Batesville), Izard (Melbourne), Johnson (Clarksville), Lafayette (Lewisville), Lawrence (Walnut Ridge/Powhatan), Lincoln (Star City), Little River (Ashdown), Southern Logan (Booneville), Lonoke (Lonoke), Montgomery (Mt. Ida), Newton (Jasper), Perry (Perryville), Pike (Murfreesboro), Polk (Mena), Pope (Russellville), Scott (Waldron), Searcy (Marshall), Southern Sebastian (Greenwood), Sevier (De Queen), Stone (Mountain View), Van Buren (Clinton), White (Searcy), and Yell (Dardanelle/Danville).
  • Wet counties (with county seat(s) in parentheses): Arkansas (De Witt/Stuttgart), Baxter (Mountain Home), Benton (Bentonville), [57] Boone (Harrison), Carroll (Berryville/Eureka Springs), Chicot (Lake Village), Clark (Arkadelphia), Cleveland (Rison), Columbia (Magnolia), [58] Conway (Morrillton), Crittenden (Marion), Cross (Wynne), Desha (Arkansas City), Dallas (Fordyce), Drew (Monticello), Franklin (Ozark/Charleston), Garland (Hot Springs), Greene (Paragould), Jackson (Newport), Jefferson (Pine Bluff), Lee (Marianna), northern Logan (Paris), Madison (Huntsville), Marion (Yellville), Miller (Texarkana), Mississippi (Osceola/Blytheville), Monroe (Clarendon), Ouachita (Camden), Phillips (Helena), Poinsett (Harrisburg), Prairie (Des Arc/De Valls Bluff), Pulaski (Little Rock), Saline (Benton), [59] St. Francis (Forrest City), northern Sebastian (Fort Smith), Sharp (Ash Flat) Union (El Dorado), Washington (Fayetteville), and Woodruff (Augusta).
  • There is no legally dry community in Connecticut. Bridgewater was the last remaining dry town in the state voters approved the sale of alcohol in a 2014 referendum by a 660-246 vote. [60][61]

Before 2012, Madison County was partially dry it only allowed beer sales if the beer's alcohol content was under 6.243 percent. Madison County voters repealed that law in 2012. [62] [63] [64] Suwannee County was formerly dry, but county voters chose to go "wet" by a 2-1 margin in a 2011 vote. [62]

Until the 1950s Leon County and Wakulla County were dry. The closest spot alcohol could be legally purchased was Perry, in Taylor County.

Various Florida counties and cities are wet, but have blue laws regulating alcohol sales on Sunday morning. [65] [66]

All Georgia counties are fully wet, with the exception of the following:

    prohibits the sale of distilled spirits for retail and on-site consumption. [67] prohibits the retail sale of distilled spirits. [68] prohibits the sale of distilled spirits for on-site consumption. [69] prohibits the retail sale of distilled spirits. [70] prohibits the sale of distilled spirits for on-site consumption. [71] prohibits the retail sale of distilled spirits. [72] prohibits the sale of distilled spirits for retail and on-site consumption. [73] prohibits the retail sale of distilled spirits. [74] prohibits the sale of distilled spirits for retail and on-site consumption. [75] prohibits the retail sale of distilled spirits. [76] prohibits the retail sale of distilled spirits. [77] The sale of distilled spirits for on-site consumption was approved by vote in May 2014. [78] prohibits the sale of distilled spirits for retail and on-site consumption (except for the City of Helen). [79]
    is a dry county, with multiple referendums to allow alcohol sales failing in the mid-1990s. The portion of Grayville that lies within Edwards County does allow alcohol sales per Grayville city ordinance. [80] , located in Shelby County, and founded in 1854, was a dry town since origination until March 2014. , also located in Shelby County, was a dry town from 1910 until 2014, when voters approved alcohol sales.
  • The village of South Holland has been a dry municipality since it was founded by Dutch Reformed immigrants in 1894. [81] In accordance with the state liquor law (see overview), South Holland bans the sale of alcohol by not issuing licenses for any business to sell alcohol in the community. The possession, consumption and transport of alcohol are all permitted in South Holland. Other villages in Illinois' Cook County, such as Oak Park and Evanston, were once dry communities, but have since re-allowed the sale of alcohol, though these villages still tend to have tougher regulation on alcohol sales than the rest of the county. within Ottawa elected to stay dry after the end of Prohibition it remained a dry township until this was overturned by a unanimous city council vote in October 2013. [82] , which has a large evangelical Christian population, prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages from 1887 until 1985. [83]

Kansas had prohibition longer than any other state, from 1881 to 1948, and continued to prohibit bars selling liquor by the drink until 1987. Both the 1948 amendment to the Kansas Constitution that ended prohibition and the 1986 amendment that allowed for open saloons provided that the amendments only would be in effect in counties that had approved the respective amendments, either during the election over the amendment itself or subsequently.

All 105 counties in Kansas have approved the 1948 amendment, but three counties (Wallace, Stanton, and Haskell) have never approved the 1986 amendment, and therefore continue to prohibit any and all sale of liquor by the drink. [84] Public bars (so-called "open saloons") are illegal in these dry counties. Another 63 counties approved the 1986 amendment, but with a requirement that to sell liquor by the drink, an establishment must receive 30% of its gross revenues from food sales. [84] 39 counties in Kansas have fully approved the 1986 amendment without any limitation, allowing liquor to be sold by the drink without any food sales requirement. [84]

(As of February 2020) [85] Of the 120 counties in Kentucky, 11 counties are dry, 53 are wet, and the remaining 56 are either "moist" or dry with special circumstances.

Maine has a distinctive place in the history of prohibition because its law went into effect in 1851 to make it the first dry state in the country and perhaps in the world. [86]

Maine’s current dry towns are Amity, Atkinson, Blaine, Bowerbank, Bremen, Cary Plantation, Castle Hill, Chapman, Charleston, Charlotte, Codeyville Plantation, Deblois, Dyer Brook, Edinburg, Elliotsville Plantation, Frenchboro, Grand Falls Plantation, Hersey, Lincoln Plantation, Littleton, Long Island Plantation, Machiasport, Mariaville, Maxfield, Merrill, No. 14 Plantation, No. 33 Plantation, Ocean Park, Perham, Reed Plantation, Roque Bluffs, Seboeis Plantation, Smyrna, Swan’s Island, Sweden, Talmadge, Vienna, Wade, Westfield, Whitneyville, Willimantic. [86]

As of 2013, there were only eight completely dry towns in Massachusetts: Alford, Chilmark, Dunstable, Gosnold, Hawley, Montgomery, Mount Washington, and Westhampton. [87] [88] The number of dry towns has decreased over time: according to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, there were 20 dry towns in Massachusetts in 2000. [87]

Tisbury is a formerly dry town that became partially wet after voters passed a motion at the Tisbury town election on April 27, 2012. Alcoholic beverages may only be served to patrons who are consuming a full meal. [89] Rockport, after being dry since 1856, allowed alcohol sales in restaurants in 2006 and in stores in 2019. [90]

    voted to allow alcohol sales on November 6, 2007, ending its run as the last dry city in Michigan. Hudsonville's vote follows the precedent of voters in both Zeeland, and Allendale Charter Township, choosing to overturn their bans on alcohol sales to adults age 21 and older in recent years. [91] had been dry since its establishment in 1945. A vote on July 15, 2013, allows up to 20 restaurants to obtain tavern licenses, but they could not sell spirits or mixed drinks. [92] On May 5, 2015 the citizens of Oak Park voted to allow mixed drinks to be sold at businesses within city limits in addition to beer and wine, which were previously allowed.
    , a neighborhood within Duluth, prohibited the sale of alcohol even though it is part of a larger municipality. This was part of its charter when it was incorporated into Duluth in 1893. An advisory referendum to overturn the prohibition failed by one vote (2858 to 2857) in November 2008. [93] A later referendum passed, and the ban was repealed by the City Council on June 27, 2016. [94]
  • A law was passed permitting the sale of liquor in liquor stores (off-sale) on Sundays in Minnesota starting July 2, 2017. [95]Minnesota no longer prohibits the sale of liquor in liquor stores (off-sale) on Sundays. Bars and restaurants may also sell liquor on Sundays for on-premises consumption. 3.2% alcohol beer is also allowed for sale on Sundays in convenience and grocery stores.
  • No alcohol is sold on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

As of January 1, 2021, all counties are "wet" by default and allow for the sale of beer and light wine unless they vote to become dry again through a future referendum. [96]

  • The town of Panaca, Nevada, was southern Nevada's first permanent settlement, founded as a Mormon colony in 1864. It originally was part of Washington County, Utah, but the Congressional redrawing of boundaries in 1866 shifted Panaca into Nevada. It remains Nevada's only dry municipality, only because it is grandfathered into state law. [97]

According to the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, Ellsworth is the only town to disallow the sale of alcoholic beverages. (Other towns allow sales of alcohol, but with restrictions). [98] [99] The most recent town to go "wet" is Sharon the town voted to repeal its dry law in 2014. [99] [100]

New Jersey has no dry counties, but as of 2017, at least 30 municipalities (out of 565 [101] statewide) prohibit the retail sale of alcohol. [102] Most of the dry towns are in South Jersey, and some of them are dry because of their origins as Quaker, Methodist, or other Protestant religious communities. [103] Dry towns in New Jersey cannot forbid the possession, consumption, or transportation of alcohol, but have the option to permit or prohibit BYOB at restaurants and social affair permits for non-profit organizations. [104] [105] It is possible for a dry town to have a winery or brewery that offers tastings, since alcohol manufacturing licenses in New Jersey are issued by the state, and are not regulated by municipalities. [106] [107]

  • As of the 2019 election, there are eight towns in New York state that are completely dry, and 39 that are partially dry. [109]
  • The "dry" towns in the state are: Caneadea in Allegany County, Clymer in Chautauqua County, Lapeer in Cortland County, Orwell in Oswego County, Fremont and Jasper in Steuben County, Berkshire in Tioga County. [109][110]
  • The town of West Almond does not allow off-premises consumption, while the towns of Harford, Franklin, Seneca, Caton, Rathbone, Newark Valley, Butler, Rose, Pike, Wethersfield and Middlesex do not allow on-premises consumption. [109]
  • The towns of Bovina, Gorham, Richford, Orangeville, and Barrington do not allow on-premises consumption except in year-round hotels. [109]
  • The other 22 partially dry towns have varying specific rules for "Special On-Premises Consumption." For example, Wilmington in Essex County is dry for on-premises consumption at race tracks and outdoor athletic fields and stadiums where admission fees are charged and wet in all other areas. [109]
  • North Carolina does not allow alcohol sales between 2am and 7am Monday through Saturday or before 12pm on Sundays. In June 2017, NC finally allowed each municipality or county (for unincorporated areas) to start allowing alcohol sales prior to noon on Sundays. Raleigh and Carrboro were the first two cities to enact the 10am Sunday alcohol sales.
  • Several of North Carolina's 100 counties are considered "dry". [111] Individual towns may pass ordinances (via referendum) that may allow alcohol sales within the municipal limits, however, even if the county itself is dry. [112] Most counties, such as Wake[113] and Mecklenburg, [114] allow alcohol sales of any type anywhere in the county, eliminating the potential need for any town or city within its boundary to do so.
  • Town and city ordinances concerning alcohol sales may be more liberal than the county's, but may not be more restrictive.
  • The only county where alcohol sales were not permitted at all (even in a town) was Graham County but this is no longer the case, as the new Town of Fontana Dam, incorporated in 2011, allows beer and wine sales, on and off-premises, in its municipal boundaries, at the town store and at a restaurant, though the remainder of Graham County is still dry. [115]
  • The city of Westerville, Ohio, was dry for more than a century. Once the home of the Anti-Saloon League and called the "dry capital of the world", the first legal drink in recent times was served in 2006.
  • The village of Bethel in Clermont County has been dry since the repeal of prohibition. Recently, through use of the single precinct vote system, precincts A and C can now sell (but not serve) alcohol. The business must first be put onto the ballot and voted to allow alcohol to be sold. was a dry town until 2002. is dry but individual towns can choose to allow sales of alcohol. , was a dry village, but is no longer dry as of 2013. is a dry town. besides Manchester and Green Township are dry. Recently, through use of the single precinct vote system, a precinct in Seaman and Peebles can now sell (but not serve) alcohol.
  • Although Scioto County and Portsmouth are not completely dry Green Township, including Franklin Furnace, are dry.

Until 2018, several counties in Oklahoma were dry counties. These included Adair, Alfalfa, Beaver, Caddo, Cimarron, Coal, Cotton, Dewey, Harmon, Harper, Haskell, Hughes, Roger Mills and Washita. After State Question 792 [116] was passed, these counties have since allowed the sale of alcohol. [117]

As of June 2018, all 77 counties allow liquor by the drink.

  • The city of Monmouth was the last dry municipality in the state until it repealed its prohibition on January 10, 2003. Oregon state law now prohibits any dry community from existing (see below).
  • Throughout the state, beer, wine, wine coolers, malt liquor and similar beverages may be purchased in a convenience store, grocery store and similar outlets. Sales of "hard" liquor are restricted to state-controlled outlets, however, as well as bars, or restaurants that include a bar. As such, there are relatively few stand-alone liquor stores in Oregon (for example, as of March 18, 2008, there were only 35 stand-alone liquor stores in the city of Portland, which had a 2000 population of 529,000). Oregon also has taverns that sell beer and wine only. All outlets selling "hard" liquor are subject to the rules and regulations of the state-run Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). By law, any establishment wishing to sell any alcoholic beverage in the state must also offer food for sale, including bars, taverns, music venues, fairs and festivals, and strip clubs. Oregon is one of 18 states that directly control the sales of alcohol beverages in the U.S.
  • The state has a number of dry municipalities, but no dry counties.
  • In Pennsylvania, sales of alcoholic beverages were prohibited in convenience stores until 2017.
  • Beer, wine and spirits are available for on-premises consumption at bars, taverns and restaurants no single bottles or cans can be sold to drink off-premises.
  • Unopened six- and twelve-packs of beer, and single units of certain larger sizes (i.e., 22- and 40-ounce bottles) can be sold "to-go" by bars, taverns, and certain restaurants. Though convenience and grocery stores broadly cannot sell beer or malt liquor, some have created attached "cafe" areas that, though enclosed by the store, are legally separate, allowing them to sell beer.
  • Bars, taverns, etc., can only sell a limited quantity of beer in a single transaction. Cases and kegs of beer are sold only by state-licensed independent beer distributors.
  • Spirits are only available in state owned/operated liquor stores. See the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
  • Bottles of wine are available in state owned/operated liquor stores, as well as certain grocery stores.
  • Independent producers may be exempt in certain ways
  • South Carolina does not allow the retail sale of alcohol for off-premises consumption on Sundays. Counties and cities can permit beer and wine sales, however, if the citizens vote for them in a referendum. Eleven counties currently allow Sunday beer and wine sales: Richland, Georgetown, Charleston, Beaufort, Greenville, Horry, Berkeley, Dorchester, Newberry, Lancaster, and York. Sumter county voted for and passed beer and wine sales on Sundays in November 2020. Cities and towns that have passed laws allowing Sunday beer and wine sales include Columbia, Lexington, Spartanburg, Greenville, Travelers Rest, Mauldin, Aiken, Rock Hill, Summerville, Santee, Daniel Island, Tega Cay, Hardeeville, Winnsboro, and Walterboro.

While Moore County itself had been completely dry, the County now allows the sale of commemorative bottles of Jack in the White Rabbit Bottle Shop, and one can take part in a sampling tour at the distillery. It is also now possible to sample wine, rum, vodka and whiskey in shops where it is distilled on premises, and beer is also available in local food establishments when served with a meal.

    , Crockett, Hancock, Sevier, Stewart, and Weakley are also dry counties. Several municipalities within Blount County are wet.
  • Some municipalities and counties allow sales of liquor-by-the-drink and retail package stores. [118]

Of Texas' 254 counties, 5 [119] [120] are completely dry, 196 [120] are partially dry, and 55 are entirely wet. The vast majority of entirely wet counties are in southern border regions of Texas near Mexico, or in the south central portion. [121]

Alcohol law in Texas varies significantly by location. In some counties, 4% beer is legal. In others, beverages that are 14% or less alcohol are legal. In some "dry" areas, a customer can get a mixed drink by paying to join a "private club," and in some "wet" areas a customer needs a club membership to purchase liquor by-the-drink. ". Move to Burleson, which has alcohol sales in the Tarrant County portion of the city but not in the Johnson County side of town." [122] Today beer and wine can be purchased in all parts of Burleson. The only places in the county where liquor can be purchased are a couple of stores inside the city limits of Alvarado. [ citation needed ]

A bill passed in 2003 by the Texas Legislature allows for Justice of the Peace precincts to host alcohol option elections. To date, this law has allowed many JP precincts, particularly in East Texas, to allow a vote that has resulted in many previously dry counties becoming "moist" and allowing sales of beer and wine, but not liquor. [123]

Texas law prohibits off-premises sale of liquor (but not beer and wine) all day on Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Off-premises sale of beer and wine on Sunday is only allowed from 12:01 pm onward.

Texas law also prohibits the sale of alcohol in any "sexually oriented business" in a dry county. Strip clubs in these dry counties often sell "set ups" (a cup with soda, ice, and a stirrer to which one can add their own alcohol) and have a BYOB policy to allow patrons to bring their own alcohol into the establishment.

As of September 2018 there are 9 cities where alcoholic beverages cannot be purchased. [124]

    , San Juan County. [124] Possession, manufacture, or delivery of alcoholic beverages prohibited. [125] , Sevier County[124] , San Juan County. Sale of alcoholic beverages prohibited since 1967. [126][124] , Garfield County[124] , Utah County[124] , Millard County[124] , San Juan County[124] Possession, manufacture, or delivery of alcoholic beverages prohibited. [125] , Millard County[124] , San Juan County[124]

Beer and wine sales are legal in all of Virginia. [127] Of the 95 counties in Virginia, 9 counties (Bland, Buchanan, Charlotte, Craig, Grayson, Highland, Lee, Patrick and Russell) are dry in that retail sale of distilled spirits is prohibited. [127] Virginia cities are not subject to county alcohol laws as they are independent by state law, and all Virginia cities are wet. [127] Virginia also restricts the sale of hard liquors (or distilled spirits) to State-run stores, or VA ABC stores. This set up is unique in that the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control not only is responsible for the sale of liquor, but also for the enforcement of alcohol-related laws in addition to public education campaigns. These campaigns are generally geared towards young adults not of drinking age, but also cover topics such as substance abuse, training for hospitality industry employees, and cautioning of the dangers of mixing alcohol and medications. [128]


Why the San Francisco Chronicle ran a homebrew recipe on its front page at the peak of Prohibition

5 of 50 A group of young women at the bar on board the luxury liner SS Manhattan, off New York, 5th December 1933. Before the repeal of prohibition, the ship's bar was required to close 12 miles out from the US coast. FPG/Getty Images Show More Show Less

7 of 50 View of men and women celebrating the repeal of Prohibition by rolling down a barrel of alcohol and toasting the 18th Amendment's demise, Chicago, 1933. Two men in front are wearing Legionnaires' uniforms. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images Show More Show Less

8 of 50 The production of beer after the end of prohibition. USA. Photograph around 1935 Imagno/Getty Images Show More Show Less

10 of 50 Arthur Ernstahl, the first person to bring liquor into the U.S legally after the repeal of The Eighteenth Amendment, declares two bottles of cognac to customs inspector Leo Shettel after arriving in New York on the Monarch of Bermuda, 5th December 1933. New York Times Co./Getty Images Show More Show Less

11 of 50 Crowds of shoppers buying liquor legally at Bloomingdale's in New York, hours after after the passing of the 21st Amendment to end prohibition, December 5, 1933. New York Times Co./Getty Images Show More Show Less

13 of 50 Crowds on Broadway, New York, celebrating the ratification of the 21st Amendment ending prohibition in America, December 5, 1933 New York Times Co./Getty Images Show More Show Less

14 of 50 Workers unload cases of liquor from marble blocks, which were used to conceal alcohol, on a pier following the repeal of prohibition, Brooklyn, New York City. New York Times Co./Getty Images Show More Show Less

16 of 50 Former Ziegfeld showgirl and sometimes actress Peggy Hopkins Joyce raises a glass of beer to celebrate the end of prohibition, Hollywood. Underwood Archives/Getty Images Show More Show Less

17 of 50 Tthe first "legal" beer cases arriving at the White House, showing the end of prohibition decided by president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Apic/Getty Images Show More Show Less

19 of 50 A woman celebrates the end of prohibition in 1933.
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images Show More Show Less

20 of 50 Tons of whiskey at the end of prohibition in 1933.
Imagno/Getty Images Show More Show Less

22 of 50 During the dark days:

Patrons enjoying drinks at the Hunt Club. a speakeasy with a filing system listing their 23,000 eligible customers which is checked before a customer gets through the door at this venue that is protected from police prohibition raids.

Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image Show More Show Less

23 of 50 Evening dressed revelers buying their drinks at a bar at the time of prohibition. Keystone/Getty Images Show More Show Less

25 of 50 California prohibition agents with a vehicle fuel tank and the 250 bottles of tequila, which were hidden in it and smuggled into the US from Mexico, circa 1930. On the left and right are the two men, who were arrested with the contraband. FPG/Getty Images Show More Show Less

26 of 50 Workers demonstrating against prohibition in the streets of New York, Photograph, around 1933. Imagno/Getty Images Show More Show Less

28 of 50 Police officers look over distilling equipment and guns confiscated during a prohibition raid, Chicago, ca.1920s. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images Show More Show Less

29 of 50 A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America. Henry Guttmann/Getty Images Show More Show Less

31 of 50 Federal policemen destroying a rum-runner's cargo in San Francisco during prohibition. Pickaxes are being used to pierce the barrels and let the rum run out. Library of Congress/Getty Images Show More Show Less

32 of 50 Two men pour out the contents of barrels of confiscated moonshine, Chicago, ca.1920s. Home-distilled moonshine was fermented in wooden barrels to make it taste more like whiskey. Chicago History Museum/Getty Images Show More Show Less

34 of 50 Prohibition agents with a 2000-gallon illicit still, seized near Waldorf, Maryland, circa 1925. FPG/Getty Images Show More Show Less

35 of 50 A sign in a New York bar during the prohibition years Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images Show More Show Less

37 of 50 A raid on a basement, in Mulberry Street, New York, where a group of Chinese immigrants were suspected of making hooch during prohibition. Keystone/Getty Images Show More Show Less

38 of 50 Prohibition protesters parade in a car emblazoned with signs and flags calling for the repeal of the 18th Amendment. One sign reads, 'I'M NO CAMEL I WANT BEER!' Archive Photos/Getty Images Show More Show Less

40 of 50 A revenue agent wearing a waistcoat designed to hide whiskey during the prohibition era in America. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images Show More Show Less

41 of 50 Group portrait of a police department liquor squad posing outdoors with cases of confiscated alcohol and distilling equipment during prohibition. Archive Photos/Getty Images Show More Show Less

43 of 50 A woman putting a hip flask, known as the ankle-flask, into her Russian boot which fastens at the ankle, one of the many ways people have found of avoiding the strict prohibition laws in America. Hulton Archive/Getty Images Show More Show Less

44 of 50 A raid on home which served as a distribution warehouse for illegal liquor Buyenlarge/Getty Images Show More Show Less

46 of 50 Edwin C. Arthur stands in the center of a collection of containers of moonshine taken during a South Side raid in Chicago, Illinois, 1922 Chicago History Museum/Getty Images Show More Show Less

47 of 50 New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach, right, watching agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of prohibition. Buyenlarge/Getty Images Show More Show Less

49 of 50 A tavern on the day before prohibition was enacted, showing patrons getting their fill, Covington, Kentucky. Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images Show More Show Less

In February 1926, the United States was in the middle of Prohibition. But that month the San Francisco Chronicle opted to run ex-President George Washington's homebrew recipe on the front page. The 18th Amendment was not popular in San Francisco &mdash or in many other major cities &mdash but a bold decision by the Chronicle's editors to publish the story was reflective of the city's broader sentiment toward the law.

The article that incorporates the recipe is newsy, mostly. In a pronounced position with a bolded headline, an Associated Press writer reports on a "face-the-facts" conference between the Anti-Saloon League and the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (held the day before), and documents a reading-aloud of Washington's beer recipe by a "prominent wet leader":

Take a large Sifter full of Bran Hops to your Taste &mdash Boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 Gall. into a Cooler put in 3 Gallons Molasses while the Beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the Cooler. Strain the Beer on it while boiling hot let this stand til it is little more than Blood warm. Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over with a Blanket. Let it work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask. leave the Bung open til it is almost done working &mdash Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.

"It was probably an act of defiance," says Dr. Ted Glasser, a professor in Stanford University's Department of Communications. "[The article was] understood in the context of the rising unpopularity of the 18th Amendment, and justified in part by what's known today as the 'record privilege,' the widely accepted argument that the press cannot be held accountable for republishing what's already a matter of public record."

The recipe in real life

Unfortunately for those who tried to give the recipe a shot, Washington's molasses-heavy ingredients would likely not have resulted in a drink very reminiscent of the tastier beers of today, especially if attempted by an inexperienced brewer.

"I imagine the flavor of Washington's beer would be like a dark bran bread with a little molasses drizzled on it," says Chris Cohen, San Francisco Homebrewers Guild Founder and owner of Old Devil Moon bar. "You can mash most any grain, but you rarely hear of homebrewers or pros using bran these days."

Dr. John Nerone, a professor of Communications and newspaper expert at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, would agree, noting that "someone who had the right equipment, including the 30-gallon barrel, could have used this recipe to make a really sweet porter or stout."

But though Washington's recipe could have provided crafty San Franciscans with the knowledge to cook up their own homemade brews, there are certain issues with it. For one, sugar was much more widely favored than molasses by the 1920s, and finding a pot large enough to hold 30 gallons likely wasn't an easy task for a city local either.

Nerone also doubts that the recipe would have been as useful and easy to understand as it may seem now. "It wouldn't have been much use for someone who didn't already know how to make beer, so I read the recipe as rhetorical, not practical," he notes.

Nerone, however, doesn't dismiss the idea that the article might have been published on the front page for a reason.

"If it were practical," he adds, "it would have been wet Republicans, first, and then the Associated Press who would have schemed it up, with the Chronicle [running the story] as, like, an accessory after the fact."


Connecticut’s Cosa Nostra Chaos

Nestled between The states of New York and Rhode Island is Connecticut, affectionately known as “The Nutmeg State”.

It has a total population of just over 3,500,000 residents and is the southernmost state in the New England region of the northeastern United States.

With the highest per-capita income and medium household income of the entire nation, the Nutmeg State has always been a vibrant hub for families and commerce since its creation by European settlers back in the early 1600s.

In fact, Connecticut was one of the first 13 colonies and had written and established documents that are considered to be the first constitutions in America…it is rich with our American history!

Running the gamut from cozy, quaint New England-style cottages to breathtaking and expansive mansions that sit on sprawling estates, Connecticut offers some of the most desirable housing, amenities, and living conditions in the nation.

Along with Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, Connecticut rounds out the five states that comprise what is widely known as the New England area of the Northeastern United States.

Overall, Connecticut is considered a wealthy and highly desireable place to live, work, and raise a family.

But although it can boast one of the top economies in the nation, and many have flocked to its soil to settle down, raise a family, and call it their own, the Nutmeg State has the dubious honor of never having had a resident, homegrown Mafia Family of their own.

I say a “dubious” honor because one would think it an attribute and a good thing to not to have a Mafia Godfather, his fellow mafiosi and mob associates to dominate and rule the territory. But it was not!

Its neighbors to the east and south each have sitting Mafia organizations. The huge “Empire State” of New York to the south, has seven active Families operating and proliferating its borders. And even the tiny little “Ocean State” of Rhode Island to its east, the smallest state in the Union, could boast one as well.

But poor li’l ole Connecticut had never been able to make that claim. As stated above, the reader would think it would have been a positive revelation, but upon further review, it turns out the total opposite has been true.

Because the fact is that the Nutmeg State has been inundated with splintered factions from many different Mafia Families, all competing to operate there over the years. It brought tremendous strife and conflict as a result.

It is precisely because they do not have one clear cut, formally structured and dominate Family to plant their Cosa Nostra flag in it’s soil, declaring Connecticut as their private bailiwick, that many highly organized, as well as independent and very unorganized hoodlums, attempted to stake a claim to its various territories.

More often than not, the result has been complete chaos and murderous bedlam.

Various mafiosi and mob associates representing the interests of at least five different mob Families: the Patriarca, Genovese, Gambino, Colombo, and DeCavalcante’s have all staked claims over the years in various towns and cities within the state. And at times, the competition has been fierce.

They have often overlapped interests and clashed, bumping heads so to speak, while vying and competing for the same limited racket spoils.

The result has been many wanton and senseless “off the record” gangland killings, as well as “sanctioned hits” ordered by the hierarchies of these Families spanning many decades, dating back to at least the early 1950s era.

What follows is a loose chronology and recitation of both the early history for several of these various crews or official “regimes”, and in some cases, independent gangs who tried their hand (and lady luck) at grabbing hold of the brass ring that was, and is, Connecticut’s vibrant underworld.

I also give a bit of an in-depth profile on a few guys that I’ve either met and became friendly with through mutual “friends” or just found their biographies interesting.

One last word…as an “open territory”, although the entire state was of course ripe for the picking, just like any other city or state in the nation where the mafia operates, there are always key cities or towns that draw more mafiosi and racketeers than others.

I’ve noticed the most popular areas for underworld infiltration and activity to be Bridgeport, Stamford, New Haven, Fairfield, Stratford, Trumbull, New Britain, and Hartford. Many different mob guys operated in these areas. Both made guys and associates alike.

The one exception I’ve noticed by and large, was the city of Waterbury, which seems to have been recognized as under the exclusive dominion of New Jersey’s Simone DeCavalcante Family, which we’ll discuss a bit later.

NOW, LETS GET ON TO THE STORY!

The Genovese Family…

This sprawling Cosa Nostra network has held many out of state interests through the years.

Good examples of their far-flung interests include the Cufari/Scibelli Regime of Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as the small Iacone/Mastrototaro Regime of Worcester, which was also based in that State. They’ve also had crews and several individual soldiers over the years active in Upstate New York.

So this Family has a long history in this upper New England area.

Among several affiliated hoodlums and racketeers who have flown the Genovese flag over the years was Salvatore (Midget Renault) Annunziato aka “Midge”, a pint-sized, loose cannon of a hoodlum who became associated with them and was eventually made a “good fellow”.

Midge was a bit whacky (make that a lot whacky). He operated for years as a Family soldier through terror and violence with moderate success. His checkered underworld career was pockmarked by nasty incidents, drunken bar brawls, and a general disrespect to all whom he dealt with, other wiseguys and the public alike.

By the mid 1970s, he was drinking daily and becoming more and more unstable. Annunziato was finally put to sleep in 1979 by his former associates…and that was that!

It was thought that his own people clipped him. By that time Midge was way out of control and had long ago lost whatever value he had been to the Family.

A more stable, and certainly more level-headed mafioso came in the form of veteran soldier Vincenzo (Vinny) Pollina, who lived in Derby.

He had several loyal associates who operated within his sphere of influence: Francis (Fat Franny) Curcio and his brother Gustave (Gus), among several others. They were well-known gamblers and loan sharks who ran rackets in Stratford, Bridgeport, and other local areas.

Pollina was a very well-liked, and well-respected old-time soldier who served in capo John (Buster) Ardito’s crew, which was based down in the Bronx and Westchester Counties.

I met Vinny years back in New York City, and later rekindled our acquaintance in Danbury where Pollina was serving out a 9-year sentence…he was a class act all the way!

Buster Ardito was sent away for 10-years, and both Curcio brothers received seven years in federal prison for related racketeering and extortion convictions on the same case as Pollina.

Another Genovese soldier was Salvatore C. (Sabby) Basso. Born in 1916, for many years he was a virtual unknown to law enforcement. He primarily operated as a bookmaker and shylock. He was another quiet, low-key type guy. A nice man who was very loyal to his borgata and friends.

On February 12, 1985, he was indicted on RICO charges after a two-year FBI probe resulted in 18 arrests for a major gambling operation he headed. He received 8 years in federal prison. Back in 1969, he had also received a 3-year suspended term for a tax evasion conviction.

Basso violated his probation after agents witnessed him holding court at the Pin-Up Restaurant on Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport. He chaired a meeting with several subordinates including Ilario (Lefty) Regina, Billy Dorman, Vincent Esposito, Thomas Romano, and Arnold Russo.

During their investigation, the FBI documented that Sabby also operated a solid shylock “book” up that way…A bit of trivia, it was while he was serving the 8-year bid on the above case that I had the pleasure to meet him several times at Danbury Penitentiary…as I said earlier, I found Sabby to be a nice guy!

Early on, a notorious Genovese-affiliated, independent-styled hoodlum named Ralph Mele operated up that way. Midge Renault started his mob career working under Mele. But in time, it was suspected that they fell out with each other. Mele was later found shot to death on the side of a lonely dirt road in 1951…Midge of course became a prime suspect.

Another important mafioso was Girolamo Santuccio, better known as “Bobby Doyle” from his days as a prize fighter down in New York City. Santuccio was an old-time veteran soldier of the Vito Genovese Family.

Bobby Doyle actually dated back before the days of Cosa Nostra to the Giuseppe Masseria Family. He was a key gunman during the infamous Castellammarese War of 1929-31.

He had a record dating to 1916, with arrests that included felonious assault and homicide by shotgun.

A former sidekick of Joe Valachi, by early 1962 Valachi had publicly named Bobby in multiple gangland murders during the Prohibition era. To avoid all the adverse publicity, Bobby Doyle then migrated back up to Hartford where he’d spent time as a kid, to keep a low profile.

Once there he quietly reestablished himself under the Springfield, MA., regime of Big Nose Sam Cufari. He started operating gambling and shylock rackets in his Hartford area, very low-key.

But boys will be boys, and hoodlums will be hoodlums as they say, and by April of 1976, Bobby found himself under indictment with a gaggle of 24 others for operating a huge gambling and extortion racket in the towns of Vernon, South Windsor, and his base of Hartford.

At 76 years old, he faced perjury charges for lying before a federal grand jury probing the Connecticut mob operation.

Among those charged included Providence soldier John (Sonny) Castagna, and fellow Genovese soldier Anthony (Tony) Volpe.

Also indicted were mob associates: Michael Chiarizio, Michael O’Brien, John Sullivan, Lawrence DiBenedetto, Francis Campanelle, Ralph Irace, George Speciale, John Della Ferra, Richard Bovino, Charles Boomazian, Eugene Poulin, William Jacomini, Robert Morris, Andrew Mascola, John Lepito, Dennis Byrne, Francis Lisella, James Smuckler, John Barone, and Anne Stefanou.

Charges for the 25 defendants included racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, loansharking, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to hijack a truck in interstate commerce, varied gambling counts, and perjury.

Vito (Billy West) Sabia of Stamford was also a Genovese soldier. The low key Sabia was a longtime gambling power who was suspected of also dabbling in the narcotics trade over the years.

Another New York City transplant, this one affiliated with the Anastasia/Gambino Family, was Nunzio Squillante. The brother of the notorious, murdered mafioso Vincent (Jimmy Jerome) Squillante, Nunzio was allied with his brother and nephews, Gennaro (Jerry) and Aniello (Wahoo) Mancuso, in the garbage carting rackets out in Nassau County on Long Island during the 1950s-early 1960s until his brother’s killing.

After Jimmy’s murder, Nunzio relocated his wife and kids up to Connecticut from their home base in the Bronx where he continued to do what he knew best – operate private sanitation-carting companies. He was either a soldier or mob associate of that Family. And although he had a few minor scrapes with the law in later years, he managed to avoid any major mafia involvement.

A hoodlum who’s formal affiliation I’m unsure of was Thomas (Pinocchio) Rispoli. He was an early New Haven-based mob associate who was found beaten and shot dead some years later than Mele in the fall of 1962…Ralph Tropiano was a prime suspect in Rispoli’s murder.

Now on to both the Colombo and Patriarca Families…

Ralph (Whitey) Tropiano was said to have originally been from Connecticut, but at some point as a child or young man, Tropiano’s blood Family moved down to Brooklyn. He spent a good number of years down in New York City where he met and became affiliated with members of the old Joe Profaci Family.

Always a vicious guy, Tropiano operated for years as an independent heist guy and gunsel for the Brooklyn mob. In the 1950s, he became a “made man” after betraying, and singlehandedly killing his fellow gang members who had the temerity to go and rob mob-backed crap games.

After living many years in Brooklyn, he relocated back up to Connecticut. He became a mob power in the Nutmeg State but still remained a soldier under the Profaci/Colombo Family.

Tropiano had the reputation as a vicious killer who’d done plenty of “work” in his time. A no-nonsense guy to be taken seriously. He was also a very domineering and nasty guy, who didn’t make a lot of friends in the mob.

In his later years, Tropiano was repeatedly jailed, and Whitey soon became bitter and disillusioned with mob life. He started to inform on both his mafia associates and his rivals alike, in both Connecticut and New York.

The Colombos soon found out about his informant status. They lured Tropiano back to New York for a meeting and shot him dead on a Brooklyn street corner in 1980.

William (Wild Billy, The Wild Man) Grasso – As a young hood on his way up, he allied with Ralph Tropiano and the Profaci/Colombo mob. He ran dice games and shylocked under Whitey, but they eventually fell out with each other, and after meeting New England boss Raymond Patriarca in prison, Grasso affiliated under Patriarca.

He would thrive within that Family, and was eventually entrusted to oversee all Connecticut operations for that crew by Patriarca.

Although Grasso was based in Connecticut, he was named the official Patriarca Family underboss. This was in a Family that typically had seen its leaders hailing from Providence, Rhode Island or Boston, Massachusetts.

But Grasso was another hood with a personality problem. He had a very nasty and arrogant style, and was disliked by many. Even his own men.

Grasso was known to have a hair-trigger temper and a vicious streak. He was another stone-cold killer who had little remorse for anyone, especially those who he felt had crossed or insulted him in some manner…and his associates knew it.

The chickens finally came home to roost in 1989. Grasso was said to have been lured into a van by fellow Patriarca soldiers and shot to death. His body was dumped on the side of a lonely New England road like a discarded bag of trash.

Allied with Grasso was Patriarca soldier John (Sonny) Castagna, who hailed from Hartford. He was a sort of de facto driver and aide. He was later convicted and jailed of manslaughter and turned federal informant against his mob associates. Castagna was later relocated under the WITSEC program.

The DeCavalcante Family…

As I stated above earlier, this group seems to have held exclusive control over the city of Waterbury. They operated in several other cities and jurisdictions in the state as well, like in New Britain and the city of Hartford.

Waterbury underboss – DeCavalcante Joseph (Joe Buff) LaSelva

Their resident Connecticut underboss Joseph (Joe Buff) La Selva, and his crew of men ran that Waterbury territory exclusively, without any interference from outside mobs.

They also controlled certain parts of other towns where they operated their fair share of rackets. Capo Michael Puglia aka “Mickey Poole” oversaw a small regime of soldiers that included Joseph (Pippy) Guerriero, Frank Carbone, and Louis (Lu-Lu) Di Giovanni.

Pippy Guerriero in particular was an interesting mob figure in that although only a soldier within the hierarchy, Pippy seems to have governed the town of New Britain’s extensive lottery and other gambling rackets as its resident czar.

He went “on the lam” in 1981 after being indicted for heading a bribery ring that corrupted a large portion of that city’s police force to protect his gaming operations.

They were all governed and protected by their underboss La Selva, who’s two brothers Thomas and Anthony aka “Tommy and Tony Buff” were also soldiers serving in this regime.

They were augmented by a crew that numbered no more than maybe 10 to 15 associates.

Collectively, they operated a wide variety of rackets which included numbers, sports and horse bookmaking, dice and card games, shylocking, and the like.

And throughout their tenure for the most part, they were low key and non violent. The La Selva Regime was one of the few mobs in the state who never succumbed to violence or bloodshed…and on review, it seems to have served them well.

But of all the various regimes and mob factions active in the state, the Gambino Family arguably had the most representation, and subsequently garnered the most notoriety, of any borgata active in the Nutmeg State…

Over the years, there were many Gambino-affiliated capos, soldiers, and top associates operating there. Familiar surnames include Iacovetti, Piccolo, and DeBrizzi to name but a few.

David Robert (Davey Crockett) Iacovetti – A very respected old-timer who was a highly independent operator within the Gambino Family. Originally born in Altoona, PA., as a young man Iacovetti relocated to Connecticut where he became a top mob figure in their Nutmeg regime. By the mid-1960s, he was residing in the town of Trumbull.

Iacovetti was said to operate several fast-food drive-in type restaurants in Connecticut and was also active in New York City where he held a hidden ownership of a nightclub.

Dave was active in South Florida rackets as well, where he resided for years on and off.

He was primarily involved in both illegal and legal gambling and was known to deal in stolen stocks and securities. He frequently traveled to Haiti, in the Dominican Republic in relation to these gaming interests.

And although he didn’t live 24/7 in Connecticut, he operated there enough to be deemed one of that state’s top resident mafioso.

Other old-time original Nutmegs included:

Gambino associate Nicola Melia

Nicola (Nick) Melia – An old school, Gambino-affiliated immigrant hoodlum. He operated as a large scale loan shark.

Melia was a mob schemer who also dealt in stolen goods and artworks as well.

Nicola (Nick) Patti – An early recognized “capo di decina” for the Family who oversaw their Connecticut operations during the 1940s thru 1960s era.

A respected and low key old-timer. He was a close associate of known hoodlums Paul Agresta, Benny Marchese, and Cosmo Sandalo.

Ippolito (Paul) Agresta – aka “The Zip” “The Greaseball”. He was born 1906 in Calabria. He was naturalized in Bridgeport in 1945, where he lived the rest of his life. FBI # 4882273.

He had an arrest for extortion (8 months in jail) and was a suspected international narcotics trafficker.

He was another old time “zip” who was influential in Connecticut mob politics until his mysterious disappearance in July of 1974 at the age of 68 years old.

It’s debatable whether he was a capo or just an influential soldier, but either way Agresta was a major player in the Nutmeg underworld until his Houdini Act.

John (Slew) Palmieri – He was another Gambino soldier who ran gambling and other rackets up in Connecticut. Jealously over position and money always seemed to rule the day in their Connecticut faction.

Shortly after being released from jail, he returned to New Haven to reestablish himself into the rackets. Palmieri was blown to bits in a car bomb shortly thereafter in the fall of 1974.

Cosmo Sandalo, born on June 12, 1914. stood 5-foot 6-inches, weighed 140 pounds, and had brown eyes and hair.FBI # 248791C. New Haven Division of FBI. 20 Anderson Street, Stamford.

He was the uncle of future Gambino underboss Anthony Megale. He was an N’dranghetista born in Calabria. Allied with Italian racketeers in Canada, Italy, Florida, and Connecticut. A close associate and aide was hoodlum Harry Riccio.

A second-tier hoodlum allied with both Ippolito Agresta and the N’dranghetista Cosmo Sandalo was Celestino (Chester) Falzetti – born 1930. FBI # 174976A. He resided at 19 Dubois Street, Stamford.

Falzetti was active in the fencing of $230,000 in stolen treasury bills, and gambling in Stamford. He was especially closely allied with Sandalo.

One of the most notorious Gambino mafia capos to ever operate in Bridgeport was Frank Piccolo aka “The Cigar.”

Born in 1921 and a resident of Stratford, he was a well-known mob figure who came up under Agresta, Patti, and their regime. FBI # 428348A Bridgeport PD # 7637. He had arrests since 1947 for gambling, assault, and income tax evasion.

After becoming a made guy, Piccolo vastly expanded and consolidated his influence and power. Ostensibly he owned Columbia Motors, a used car lot in Bridgeport.

But in truth, he was extremely active in strong-arm extortion, gambling rackets, and was highly suspected of handling narcotics in partnership with capo Rocco Mazzie, Lucchese capo Tony Castaldi from Harlem, and his brother-in-law Guido Penosi who was a resident of Los Angeles, California.

Penosi also was a known Gambino member and narcotics dealer. Penosi operated in both Connecticut and California, where he was suspected of smuggling heroin from and to.

He is best known for the failed, and highly-publicized attempted extortion of singer Wayne Newton years ago.

Piccolo eventually became the capo of their crew until his very public murder while in a phone booth in 1981.

Thomas (Tommy the Enforcer) DeBrizzi – A gambler and strong-arm utilized by Frank Piccolo, who Tommy came up under and was later sponsored by. DeBrizzi was the prime suspect in his mentor’s 1981 murder.

After operating a few short years in the capo seat, he fell on federal charges and was jailed at Danbury. Shortly after making parole, DeBrizzi himself was found shot to death, stuffed in a car truck in 1988.

Side Note: DeBrizzi was another fellow I met while he was in Danbury. I found him to be extremely friendly and courteous, but I do know that he had several nasty arguments with knockaround guys up there. In one beef that got very heated, he seriously insulted a kid that wasn’t yet straightened out, but who had family members that were back in New York. I suspect that didn’t help Tommy’s cause any.

It later came out in trial testimony that Tommy had been killed on the orders of John Gotti for no other reason but failing to show up for a meeting with the boss when requested to, down at the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street.

Anthony (Tony) Megale was Sandalo’s nephew and protege. He would affiliate and in the late 1980s later rise to become the Gambino Family’s Connecticut-based underboss. He died young of heart disease shortly after his release from federal prison.

A few of the other early mafiosi who operated in tandem with the above racketeers were:

Ignazio (Okay Benny) Marchese – aka “Benny Marchese”. Born 1903 in the Palma (Naples) section of Italy. He was naturalized in 1944. FBI # 4612703, ConnPD # 49778. Since 1930, he’s been arrested for carrying a gun, armed robbery, violation of the federal narcotics laws.

A resident of Andonsia, Conn., Marchese was a convicted interstate narcotics trafficker who obtained his supply from top mafia traffickers in NYC, typically East Harlem and Downtown Manhattan.

Marchese was known to make frequent trips into NYC where he would purchase loads of cheap merchandise for resale back home. He also trafficked in pornographic films and books that he bought from mob contacts in Times Square’s red light district for distribution in New Haven.

A close associate of Agresta, Piccolo, Lucchese capo Anthony (Tony Higgins) Castaldi of East Harlem, and Gambino member Vincent (Jimmy the Blond) Corrao on Mulberry Street.

As a young hoodlum back in New York, he was reportedly a member of the “Iodine Gang”, a notorious team of truck hijackers.

Thomas (Tommy the Blond) Vastano – He was a suspected Genovese soldier or at least a top-ranked associate. Long affiliated with Midge Annunziato, Vastano was thought to have been active as an enforcer and in gambling operations, and was suspected in several homicides over the years including that of his former friend Annunziato.

William (Willy the Creep) Conforte

In January of 1980, the 71-year-old Vastano was shot to death by his “friends” in the backyard of his own Stratford home…”another dead soldier” as the saying goes.

William (Willie the Creep) Conforte – Born 1908 in New Haven, he resided in the West Haven area where he also operated from. FBI # 686025, New Haven PD # 4220. Since 1933 he had arrests for counterfeiting, armed robbery, and maintaining a gambling den.

Conforte was closely associated with his brother Jimmy Conforte, Agresta, Piccolo, hoodlum Raymond Maresca, and soldier Paul (Paulie Legs) Zerbo of NYC.

The Conforte brothers were well known local heroin dealers with interstate sources of supply in NYC.

Raymond (Lemons) Maresca – aka “Thomas Del Monto”. He was also born in New Haven back in 1903. FBI # 26808, New Haven PD # 2696. He had arrests since 1913 for burglary, armed robbery, and narcotics. He had ownership interests in a parking lot and New Haven supermarket.

He was active as a loanshark, and was another known narcotics distributor in the New Haven area with sources of supply in East Harlem. On occasion, Marchese also supplied Maresca locally.

He was tied to Lucchese capo Carmine (Willy the Wop) Locascio, and Gambino soldier Vincent (Jimmy Jerome) Squillante.

Ippolito (Paulie Legs) Zerbo

Ippolito (Paulie Legs) Zerbo – Born 1912 in East Harlem. A soldier in the Lucchese Family. Although Zerbo lived in NYC, he operated regularly in Connecticut and the overall New England area.

Zerbo’s criminal identification numbers were FBI # 2447703, NYPD # B-12338, Stamford PD # 3288.

He was a multi-kilo supplier of heroin and trafficked into the Connecticut area.

A close ally of the notorious Lucchese kingpin Big John Ormento. Zerbo was suspected of also obtaining his supply from seamen smugglers.

Salvatore (Mickey) Caruana – A large-scale marijuana smuggler who was on trial at the time of his disappearance and presumed murder in the Spring of 1987.

“On the lam” from an indictment accusing Caruana of moving thousands of pounds of pot across state lines, it was thought that Billy Grasso killed his Patriarca associate to sever any possible ties to his drug trade. Caruana’s car was later found abandoned in a Connecticut parking lot.

Other murders of various lesser mob associates through the years included William Shamansky, William (Billy Hot Dogs) Grant, Richard Biondi, and Eric Miller…they were among many others who were dealt a losing hand in the Connecticut rackets over the years, right on up to the present day.

But despite a multitude of racket guys and crews active there, it always seemed to be an mostly unorganized, hodge-podge of mob strife and violence.

And as discussed earlier in this article, the violence constantly associated with the Connecticut underworld I view as the collateral damage of not having one single, recognized Mafia Family to call The Nutmeg State all its own.

It could be argued that one resident, universally recognized crime Family would have served them well in that regard.


Last Dry Town In Connecticut Considers Giving Up On Prohibition

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The last dry town in Connecticut is considering whether to give up on Prohibition.

Bridgewater, an affluent bedroom community of 1,700 people tucked into the hills of western Connecticut, may have more at stake in a referendum than bragging rights: The town’s average age has risen above 50 and the state is threatening to close the only school.

First Selectman Curtis Read says restaurants that serve alcohol could provide a much-needed boost.

“It would tend to enliven the town,” Read said.

Repeal has become the hottest issue in Bridgewater, with dozens attending a November town meeting on the issue. Read said it was clear people were reluctant to “show their cards” and a referendum was chosen in part for privacy, so that voters do not have to reveal opinions to neighbors. The timing of the vote, originally scheduled for Tuesday, now remains to be determined after it was postponed to make sure it complies with decades-old blue laws.


Looking for a "Walkable" town (Norwalk, Danbury: appointed, house)

We are on LI and thinking of relocating to S. Connecticut. I really like living near a town that has a nice main street that you can walk around. I have lived in or near Huntington, Northport, Port Washington, Babylon etc. and really like living near a town.

We are looking to spend around $550000 for a house in a neighborhood that is not too congested and built up.

Is this possible? Does this exist?

I used to live in Suffolk County on Long Island and then moved to CT before moving to TN 2 years ago.

I would suggest Branford as a nice town on the southern part of CT.

We are on LI and thinking of relocating to S. Connecticut. I really like living near a town that has a nice main street that you can walk around. I have lived in or near Huntington, Northport, Port Washington, Babylon etc. and really like living near a town.

We are looking to spend around $550000 for a house in a neighborhood that is not too congested and built up.

Is this possible? Does this exist?

I agree that Bethel is a great choice and 550k will buy you a decent house there now, too! Bethel is beautiful and "Main Street" is charming.

Fairfield is a great choice. (There are a few posters here that can give you more info regarding it.)

Ridgefield would be another great choice. your money won't go very far there but in today's market anything is possible. Darien and Westport both have great "Main St" areas, as well.

If you don't need to worry about schools, I would look at Norwalk, as well. Lots of options for you! Good luck!


The Modern Story

New Haven in the midst of the Great Depression saw factories still churning, its immigrant population increasing and the rise of a business that the city is now so known for the pizzeria. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, hundreds of restaurants and bars, and dozens of pizzerias opened in and around New Haven. It was boom time that allowed this traditional Neapolitan dish to be served to a larger ethnic community, staying open until 3 AM and attracting the famous and the infamous.

Modern Apizza’s story began this way with an Italian American man who began a dynasty of pizzerias in Greater New Haven. On March 4, 1911, Anotonio “Tony” Tolli was born in Plainville, CT to Italian immigrants from Marigliano, outskirts of Naples, Itlay. At two years old Tolli was taken and raised in Italy until 1930, then returning to America at age 18. Upon arrival Tolli lived with his uncle, Giuseppe Marzullo, who ran the oldest Italian pastry shop in New Haven. They were located on Wallace Street one block from Grand Avenue in the Mill River neighborhood, which was thickly settled with Italian immigrants. It was there that Tolli first learned to bake. Being illiterate, Tolli taught himself how to bake by counting how many bags of each ingredient was used in the baking process. Marzullo’s son Joseph also ran a pastry bakery on Washington Avenue in the Hill neighborhood, another Italian enclave. In 1934, Joseph Marzullo and his cousin, Antonio Tolli, opened a pizzeria down the street from Marzullo’s confectionery and called it Washington Pizzeria. They lasted in business here for two years when Marzullo returned to his pastry shop. Tolli, however decided to take his business to a different neighborhood entirely.

Tony Tolli moved his business to the mostly residential East Rock neighborhood flanking the industrial Mill River section, and opened up Tony’s Apizza at 874 State Street in 1936. He had a coke (a coal byproduct made in New Haven) fired brick oven built in the back of the rented commercial space, designed to make only pizza. For 25 cents a pie customers found their way to the neighborhood’s only pizzeria at the time. In 1937, 14 year old Nick Nuzzo wandered over from his house nearby on East Street. He began working for Tolli that year, and his nickname “Sonny” can still be found scribbled in pencil on a column in the basement. Along with Nick, Tony’s wife, Grace, worked along side.

With the onset of World War II, global tension and armament led to local factories switching to expanded shifts gearing to the war effort. Pizzerias benefited from all the extra mouths to feed at the factories, and deliveries rose. While many men and women went to fight and support the war effort overseas, pizza bakers stayed behind to feed the hungry workers. Tony Tolli found that although the pizza business was booming, so was his rent. So he looked for another pie worthy outpost, and found one five blocks down State Street, at the corner of Olive Street. In 1942, he purchased the house and store there and fitted it out to become the next Tony’s Apizza. Tolli also nicknamed that place State Apizza Place, a name that never stuck. Tony went on to open three more pizzerias including Tolli’s Apizza in East Haven in 1954. Tony’s friends created a nickname for him Tony Apizza, and to the chagrin of his wife, she was known as Mrs. Apizza!

Young Nick Nuzzo continued to work at the old restaurant and a returning war vet found his way to the savory smells of the pizzeria. That man was Louis Persano, who returned in 1944 and took over Tony’s lease. Persano had already trained with Frank Pepe a few years prior so he was a veteran baker. Since Tony Tolli was running his pizzeria with the same name up the street, a new name had to be conceived. Nick took it upon himself to ask around and he ventured two doors down to Polish American, John Wozniak’s Humphrey Pharmacy. Wozniak suggested calling it “Modern” since they had a new owner, and the name Modern Apizza stuck ever since. Along with Nick, Louis was joined by two of his brothers, John & Fred, to work at the restaurant. By 1945, Modern was ordering pizza boxes for deliveries and pickup orders from the Strouse Adler Co., a local corset maker who was one of the country’s first recorded pizza box makers.

In the late 1940s Modern’s pizzas ran 60 cents a small pie and while customers waited they could play the pinball machine located near the service window. The Persano brothers eventually opted out of the pizza business, finding different occupations. Louis became a local fireman in 1949 and then sold the place to Nick Nuzzo in 1952.

Pizza’s popularity in America blossomed during the 1950s. Returning war vets stationed in Naples were wowed by Italian pizza, and demanded it back in the states. Even in New Haven, where pizzerias had already made their mark for over 30 years, the pizza craze continued, with over 50 pizzerias opening up in the area within 10 years after the war. Nick was joined by his brother Fred who learned the trade, and then opened his own place, Grand Apizza, in Fair Haven in 1955. Modern continued to pump pizzas out to a loyal following through the 1950s-60s.

New Haven’s Redevelopment era shook up almost every community through massive urban renewal and clearance. Many of the older Italian neighborhoods were completely removed for highways, schools, offices and housing. Between 1955 and 1980 most of the old pizzerias had closed or moved to outlying suburbs. Luckily upper State Street was not on the chopping block and Modern remained a constant presence. Loyal customers were more than happy to pay 90 cents for a small plain pie around 1960.

The old coke fired brick oven almost became obsolete. By 1967, the production of this coal byproduct ceased in New Haven. While other pizzerias either converted to anthracite coal or to gas fired ovens, Modern converted their oven to oil. Four years later the bricks began to collapse in the oven and the upper and front portions were replaced to its present shape. In 1968, William “Billy” or “Butts” Cretella began working for Nick Nuzzo. Billy had previously worked with Tony’s Apizza, which had closed and was torn down for redevelopment. Billy made pies, prepped and served as well, and he became an integral part of Modern’s front line. Nick’s son Barry joined the team as well, and the three men were a staple sight behind the counter. These pie men would cook a small red pie costing customers $2.70 in 1974.

By the early 1980’s upper State Street was becoming a ghost town. Many of the street’s businesses were shuddered and its street life had dwindled. Modern Apizza had the fortune to turn out amazing pizza which was noted by various newspapers. The Hartford Courant touted that the pizza was as good as on Wooster Street, but without the lines. Modern’s reputation grew during this time until Nick Nuzzo’s son, Barry’s death in 1987. Nick was now ready for retirement after working here for 50 years. He found a willing and dedicated buyer who promised to sustain and grow the business. William “Billy” Pustari purchased Modern in 1988 and, along with his wife, built its reputation to a national level. What used to be a neighborhood pizzeria, now gained great prominence in the pulsing heart of New Haven’s pizza scene and lines began to form out the door.

At Pustari’s helm, Modern expanded its dining area and its kitchen in 1992, adding an additional oil fired brick oven. Along with more pizza being served, Modern achieved more awards. The local Advocate poll found Modern ranking number one, and Playboy Magazine gave modern the top mark for their pizza. Pustari’s reputation for quality pizza landed his recipes at a baseball field in Seattle, WA and convention centers in Denver, CO, Louisville, KY and Sacramento, CA. History is still fully part of the Modern’s spirit vintage images line the walls and gazing eyes peering deep into the kitchen can see Billy Butts slinging pizzas in the charred brick oven. Longtime customers and families who are loyal to Modern will attest, Modern Apizza was, is and will be their favorite pizza, and the only pizza that matters for generations to come.


The Rebirth Of Rye Whiskey And Nostalgia For 'The Good Stuff'

It used to be said that only old men drink rye, sitting alone down at the end of the bar, but that's no longer the case as bartenders and patrons set aside the gins and the vodkas and rediscover the pleasures of one of America's old-fashioned favorites.

Whiskey from rye grain was what most distilleries made before Prohibition. Then, after repeal in 1933, bourbon, made from corn, became more popular. Corn was easier to grow, and the taste was sweeter.

To be sure, rye whiskey production is only a drop compared with the rivers of bourbon produced now, although rye whiskey sales have tripled in the past five years.

You can even find rye in the tiny farm town of Templeton, Iowa. It's said to be the same taste as the bootleg brew that Templeton was known for during Prohibition. They called it "The Good Stuff." It was popular in Chicago, a favorite of Al Capone. Templeton Rye, legal these days, and sold in Iowa and 11 other states, is made from a grandfather's secret recipe. The actual production, though, takes place at a distillery in Shelbyville, Ind., with the aged whiskey shipped to Templeton for bottling.

Templeton, Iowa, is a tiny farming community mostly unchanged since the days of Prohibition. Noah Adams/NPR hide caption

Templeton, Iowa, is a tiny farming community mostly unchanged since the days of Prohibition.

Oak barrels filled with whiskey, getting older and tastier at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky. Noah Adams/NPR hide caption

Oak barrels filled with whiskey, getting older and tastier at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky.

Templeton has one block of a downtown, with the street ending at the rail line and grain elevators. On a foggy evening I could imagine what it all looked like during the early 1930s — except for the bar where I had my first sip of the local rye and listened to handed-down stories about the government "revenuers" busting up stills. The feds rolled the kegs out into the hog lot and axed them open, they say. But naturally, they kept one or two for evidence.

Alongside the Kentucky River in Frankfort, Ky., stand the old brick warehouses of Buffalo Trace Distillery — that's a modern name for the "oldest continually operating distillery in the United States." It was even open during Prohibition, bottling pints of "medicinal" rye. Now, Buffalo Trace makes bourbon for 17 different labels. You can look up at the dusty warehouse windows and see the barrels, aging, waiting for five, six, or seven years to pass. There are a quarter million barrels in storage.

Plus, there's a few hundred barrels of Sazerac Rye — the longtime New Orleans favorite. Kris Comstock of Buffalo Trace often hears from bartenders, calling from New York City, Los Angeles — trying to find Sazerac. He says the rye's intense flavor makes it perfect for the classic cocktails. "When you mix it in a Manhattan, it doesn't get diluted by the Vermouth or the bitters."

Labels await their bottles at the Templeton Rye plant, in Templeton, Iowa. Noah Adams/NPR hide caption

Deeper in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, you could meet up with Chris Morris, the master distiller at Woodford Reserve and ask him about rye. Here's how he identifies the aromas that arise when the spicy rye grain is cooked and distilled: "green apple, green banana, black pepper, leather, oak, tobacco, caramel, vanilla . "

I was lucky. I'd arrived at Woodford during the second of only three weeks the distillery gives over to rye production. The rest of the year, they're making the highly-respected bourbon, Distiller's Select. (The Chris Morris signature is on every label.)

A vat full of rye mash at the Woodford Reserve bubbles with carbon dioxide during fermentation. Noah Adams/NPR hide caption

A vat full of rye mash at the Woodford Reserve bubbles with carbon dioxide during fermentation.

A while back, Woodford decided to venture into the rye market. The first barrels, aged for seven years, will be ready in 2016 and will be called "Red Rye Select." Morris clearly enjoys the brief change. He smiles when you ask about his favorite: "I think bourbon is the best whiskey made and rye is simply different."

Both the bourbon and rye are made from the mineral-rich water from the limestone aquifer that underlies the central Kentucky countryside. It's the same water the Scots-Irish frontier settlers used centuries ago. There was a still on every homestead — and that's how all this got started.

A decade ago in this country you could only find six brands of rye whiskey. Now there are more than 50.

A vat at the Woodford Reserve Distillery, built in 1838 near Versailles, Ky., gets a steam cleaning. Noah Adams/NPR hide caption

A vat at the Woodford Reserve Distillery, built in 1838 near Versailles, Ky., gets a steam cleaning.


Liz Pounds Taught Tulsa How to Drink

“I was recently referred to as a pioneer in this industry by some of these young kids,” says Liz Pounds. “I think that was a polite way of saying, ‘This one’s been around forever.’” Pounds, whose birth name is Liz Taylor (high school: lots of teasing), is perhaps the most veteran bartender in the Tulsa area. She’s been standing behind the city’s bars on and off since the early 1970s, with the exception of a decadelong detour to Los Angeles in the ’80s when she took a bartending job at Liza Minnelli’s restaurant in Venice Beach. In 2017, one website called her “as close as Tulsa comes to a celebrity bartender.” People have been known to follow her from gig to gig, in pursuit of her signature drink, the French Martini, a vodka and Lillet mixture taught to her by a Frenchman named Marcel Berloux in the early 1990s. (No apparent relation to the more famous drink by that name featuring vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice.)

Pounds has been around long enough to remember when Oklahoma bartenders were still not allowed to sell “liquor by the drink” (the general term for laws that enable restaurants and bars to sell individual drinks) and would call one another to warn of coming visits from undercover authorities. (Oklahoma did not repeal Prohibition until 1959, some 26 years after the Cullen–Harrison Act.) And she’s stayed on long enough to witness firsthand the arrival in Tulsa of the cocktail renaissance, soaking up the new knowledge accordingly.

You wouldn’t tag her for a bartender on first sight. Diminutive and bespectacled, she looks more like a piano teacher. (As she once was. She also taught flute, and still plays flute and piccolo in the Tulsa Community Band.) But don’t underestimate her. Pounds knows how to handle a problem customer. Once, when a regular was bellyaching a little too much, she took his Manhattan and transferred it to a baby bottle she happened to have on hand. She returned it to him, with the message that he could have the glass back when he stopped his complaining. “We both laughed,” recalls Pounds, “and he drank the Manhattan from the baby bottle.”

How did you first get into bartending?
It was 1973 and I had filled out some applications. I wanted to become an airline stewardess I wanted to travel. I was trying to get into the Peace Corps. Anything to get out of Tulsa. And all my friends had gone to work at this place called the Nine of Cups. In the 1970s, there weren’t a lot of restaurants in Tulsa. There wasn’t a lot going on in the hospitality business. It started out as a health food restaurant. It was a bunch of hippies. I had never been in the restaurant business. I went there to apply as hostess, and my interview entailed, “What time of day were you born and what month, because we’re going to do your astrology chart.” I started as a hostess, then went to waitress, then they said, “Do you want to bartend?” The guy who taught me how to bartend was an Irishman from Connecticut, Callie O’Keefe. He taught me 10 standard drinks. I started making cash money. Then I started hearing back from airlines and said, “Screw that.”

It was that fun a place?
It was sex, drugs and rock and roll I’m not going to kid around. It was a wild place. We’d shut the doors and party till the morning.

How long were you there?
I moved to L.A. with a musician. But, you know, people move to L.A. to break up.

Did you bartend in Los Angeles?
Yes. I worked at 72 Market Street, the Venice Beach restaurant. It was owned by Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and Tony Bill. Dudley stumbled in all the time. He was Arthur. That part was written for him. He was kind of known as a drunk. But he was a wonderful man. There was a grand piano in the dining room. It was his. He played for me, when I left, at the going-away party.

Did you have any memorable celebrity encounters in LA?
This guy came in. He had on a seersucker suit and said, “I’ll have a Stoli and grapefruit.” I give him the drink. I asked [a coworker], “Who’s the good-looking guy over there?” The bartender goes, “What? You don’t know who that is? That’s Bruce Willis.” Later, he comes over again and says, “Don’t hit me so hard on this next one.” I coached Lesley Ann Warren to bartend in a film called Choose Me in 1984. She had to learn how to pour a Guinness stout with 3 inches of head and a shot of vodka. I was an extra in one of the bar scenes, also.

What do you think makes for a good bartender?
Somebody who could read people. Somebody who’s good with people, who can take crap from people. We don’t have to take as much crap today as we used to. You have to have some pretty big people skills to be a bartender. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.

What advice would you give a young person just getting into the business?
Learn as much as you can about spirits, wine and beer. And be sure you can handle talking to people. The last couple people I trained, I told, “I’m going to teach you how to teach yourself. Because I’m not going to be around you all the time. You need wings to fly away.”


Watch the video: The 10 WORST PLACES in CONNECTICUT Explained (November 2021).