Cocktails & Spirits

Happy Repeal Prohibition Day: Miami's Chefs Tell Us Their Favorite Drinks

If you think government is meddling in your affairs now (we're talking to you, Fox News), you should have been around in the early 20th Century, when Christian organizations and the federal government decided that most of our country's ills -- such as poverty, mental illness, crime, and bad behavior -- stemmed from alcohol consumption.

On January 16, 1919, Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing alcohol. Of course, instead of decreasing the public's thirst for spirits, it increased it, and a cottage industry was born for bootleggers, smugglers, and home distillers. Joe Kennedy was rumored to be a bootlegger, and even Ernest Hemingway smuggled rum from Cuba to the Florida Keys from time to time.

For 13 years, the United States was considered a "dry country," with most

people buying illegal hootch. The wealthy and famous traveled outside

the States to drink. What the amendment didn't stop was the consumption

of alcohol; it just stopped the legal commerce (and tax revenue)

associated with it.

In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for president with the promise to repeal Prohibition. He won. On December 5,

1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, repealing Prohibition federally  and allowing states to have a say in the prohibition of alcohol. By

1966, there were no state laws outright banning the sale or consumption

of alcohol (though some archaic "blue laws" are still on the books,

allowing some municipal counties the right to limit the sale of alcohol

during certain times or ban it altogether).

So, every year on December 5, we celebrate by raising a glass in

a toast to our fair nation and the ability to have a drink whether it

be a craft brew, a single-malt Scotch, or a glass of Burgundy.

We asked some of Miami's favorite chefs how they're celebrating today. Here's what they said:

Dena Marino, chef/owner, MC Kitchen

When I was in Aspen, I found myself drinking darker spirits. I was always one for spiked ciders and even an occasional craft beer. Now that I'm in Miami, I embrace the warm weather and gravitate toward light cocktails. I'm having a total love affair with different takes on caipirinhas, so I can't get enough of our One Tusk made with Capurro pisco, unfiltered ginger ale, and hibiscus flowers.

Kris Wessel, chef/owner, Florida Cookery

I grew up in New Orleans, so my favorite cocktail is the retro Sazerac, made the original way with cognac and Peychaud's bitters. I love to cook with a good, dry sherry, and my favorite shot would have to be a reposado tequila with a very spicy sangrita shot.

Todd Erickson, executive chef, Haven

I don't drink, but I do love the folks at Mandarine Napoleon. I like cooking with their stuff, which is great in sorbets and ice creams with chocolate. I also love it with foie gras and other duck applications.

Sam Gorenstein, chef/owner, My Ceviche

My favorite spirits are mezcal, gin, and aguardiente.

Giorgio Rapicavoli, chef/owner, Eating House

My favorite drink is a pisco sour, but my spirit of choice is whiskey.

Jose Mendin, co-owner, Pubbelly/Pubbelly Sushi/PB Steak
My favorite drink is a Puerto Rican juice, which is actually a Don Q & Coke. When it's warm out, I'll drink a classic Martin Miller gin & tonic. I also love the Cocchi Americano from Macchialina, and any mezcal is a friend of mine.

Michael Pirolo, chef/owner, Macchialina
For me it's gin. I feel it's very versatile in a cocktail. A good drink that comes to mind is a ruby-red grapefruit gin fizz.

Brian Nasajon, executive chef, SushiSamba Dromo

I love Old Fashioneds, specifically with Bulleit rye and a couple of different bitters. Also I like Tobal mezcal, straight.

Michael Schwartz, chef/owner, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
One word: bourbon.

Hedy Goldsmith, executive pastry chef, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

I'm a bourbon gal, but i must admit I don't discriminate and have a taste and appreciation for most, if not all, spirits. The art of hand-crafted cocktails and how they're layered with flavors is my inspiration for many of my desserts.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss