Liberated women and contraband cocktails: Thanks, Prohibition!

R Street's Kevin Kosar:

In case you missed it, the 82nd anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal (1920-1933) was Dec. 5. I myself celebrated with a glass of bourbon and a few microbrews at the Black Squirrel in Washington, D.C. There is much to be thankful on Repeal Day.

For the most part, America’s experiment with banning drink was a disaster. The flood of tax revenue on alcoholic beverages slowed to a trickle. Breweries, distilleries and wineries closed by the thousands, throwing blue collar folks out of work. An honest industry and its profits were handed to gangs, led by Al Capone, Meyer Lansky and other ultraviolents. Taking an individual’s property without convicting him of a crime, also called asset forfeiture, was standard operating procedure in the war against illicit drink. Untold thousands died from tainted liquor.

Prohibition did have, however, at least a couple of positive effects, as Paul Dickson explains in Contraband Cocktails: How America Drank When It Wasn’t Supposed to (Melville House Publishing, 2015)....