We Want the World, and We Want it Now!
Hi, I’m Jon Yeager, and I run the cocktail creative PourTaste with my wife Lindsay, and we’re here to do what we do best: talk cocktails! Though we initially planned to write about the era of prohibition on a local level, our research uncovered so much more, and we became intrigued by how women fought for identity and empowerment in the midst of societal struggles. As full-time cocktail geeks, we see no better example of this than in the era of prohibition, when lots of women were learning a thing or two about empowerment!
But let’s back up a bit. The art of measuring liquor and mixing it with fresh juices and other natural ingredients dates back to — almost — the beginning of time. And mixologists have been tinkering with their formulas for nearly as long; even when Christ walked, the Greeks and Romans were spiking soured wine to make it more palatable. Throughout history, humans have found a way to take one good thing — or maybe a not-so-good, homemade thing — and improve it.
Women have played a crucial role in this. For example, in industrialized England, our forefathers were served punch, the grandfather of the cocktail, by women. These tippling houses were owned by men who employed women as some of the world’s first bartenders to make and serve the day’s grog.
However, in the early 20th century in America — with Sazeracs and other classic cocktails in full swing — we find disenfranchised females who have been left out of the party. Simultaneously, they’re screaming for change politically and socially, fighting for an identity and desiring to be valued as more than just the quiet mistress of the house.
In a matter of years, the American woman would never be the same. Tired of classical norms that defined what it meant to be “ladylike,” these women pushed boundaries in hemlines, haircuts, and everything in between, right down to the social acceptance of having a cocktail — in public! — with a man. With flappers and suffragettes acting loud and proud, the tables were turning in a profound way.
This was exemplified no better than right here in Nashville. Anne Dallas Dudley, who founded the Nashville Equal Suffrage League, held secret meetings in the parlor of the Tulane Hotel (scandalous!). Her clandestine meetings were instrumental in getting the Nineteenth Amendment ratified in Tennessee, which — insert history lesson — was the last state on board to secure women’s right to vote. It was noted, though, that her graciousness lured and captivated the male-dominated political world. And ladies, you’ve probably figured out by now that a little bit of charm and grace goes a long way with men.
Like no other time in our history, social change, liquor and the hearts of women intertwined in a bizarre, life-changing way. Hip flask or not, girls, you are captivating creatures. You’re the hands and feet of beauty and truth, and can be a world-changing force. Our charge to you is this: Grab a cocktail with your girlfriends. And as you raise your glass to the gals of yesteryear, think big, talk about possibilities and live the life you were meant to — a captivating one.
Photo by Eric England
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