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The Prohibition era had an impact on many things… music, social norms, and of course, alcoholic beverages. It also influenced language and day-to-day conversation due to the laws that were enforced. Here are some quirky words and popular phrases that were created and commonly used during the Prohibition:

Blind Pig
This was one of the many nicknames for an illegal drinking establishment – a speakeasy. The idea behind these nicknames was to avoid police detection by charging customers a fee to see an attraction, such as an animal, and then serve a “complimentary” cocktail or other alcoholic drink, thus circumventing the law. Other variations included Blind Tiger, Blind Bull, Buffet Flat, Beer Flat, Hooch Joint, and Juice Joint.

This term originated in the late 1800s as a shortened version of “Hoochinoo” – a distilled beverage from Alaska. The nickname became widely popular during the Prohibition and was used to describe alcohol that was homemade and of low quality.

Bathtub Gin
A homemade (and very often poorly made) gin that was served in a bottle so tall, it could not be mixed with water from a sink tap, so it was mixed in a bathtub instead. Although the name specifically references gin, it came to be used as a general term for any type of cheap homemade booze. White Lightning is the whiskey equivalent of Bathtub Gin – a colourless, highly potent, illegally made poor-quality spirit.

This was the title for a person who abstains completely from the consumption of alcohol. It is believed to have originated within the Prohibition era’s temperance societies, where members would add the letter “T” to their signatures to indicate total abstinence.

Jake Walk
The Jake Walk referred to a paralysis or loss of muscle control in the hands and feet caused by an overconsumption of Jamaican ginger, also known as Jake – a legal substance with an alcoholic base. The numbness caused the sufferers to walk with a distinct step that was called the Jake Walk, also known as the Jake Leg or Jake Foot.

If you’re intrigued by the 1920s Prohibition America and everything it brought about, be sure to pop down to The Thirsty Barber in St Julian’s for a night of great music, incredible drinks, and an authentic 1920s vibe.

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