It’s that festive time of year when Los Angeles hosts a variety of Holiday Events and the world famous Tournament of Roses. For cocktail enthusiasts around the country, December 5th is nearly as important a date on the calendar as December 25th or December 31st. Created by Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Repeal Day is celebrated every December 5th to honor the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933, which ended thirteen years of Prohibition. The national celebration has grown in popularity every year, and bars across Los Angeles are featuring drink specials and events to commemorate the 79th anniversary of Repeal. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said at the end of Prohibition: “What America needs now is a drink.”
More information about Repeal Day celebrations in Los Angeles can found at Thirsty in LA.
The CHAYA Restaurants are toasting December 5th with a selection of $12 classic cocktails from December 3rd to December 9th at locations in Downtown, Beverly Hills and Venice.
CHAYA Downtown is serving the Hanky-Panky, a cocktail created by Ada Coleman, the first Head Bartender of the famed American Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London. CHAYA’s version of her classic cocktail features gin, vermouth, Fernet-Branca, and maraschino cherry juice. The classic Sidecar is also available for $12.
CHAYA Brasserie Beverly Hills features The Avenue, which first appeared in the Café Royal Cocktail Book by William J. Tarling in 1937. The CHAYA Brasserie version is made with Maker’s Mark, calvados, passion fruit puree and pomegranate grenadine. Also available for $12 is the Corpse Reviver No. 2, one of the best drinks from an historic category of “pick-me-up” cocktails.
CHAYA Venice offers the Cooperstown Cocktail, which first appeared in The Ideal Bartender, originally published in 1917. Author Tom Bullock was a well-known bartender at the St. Louis Country Club, where his guests included prominent figures like G.H. Walker, grandfather of George W. Bush. CHAYA Venice makes its version with Tanqueray Gin, vermouth, orange bitters and mint leaves. The legendary Sazerac, which dates back to 19th century New Orleans, is also available for $12.
The night before Repeal Day, Cole’s celebrates its 104th anniversary by hosting the finals of the 4th Annual Jimmy Barella Bartending Competition on Tuesday, December 4th. The competition honors the legendary bartender who worked at the Red Car Bar from 1918 to 1983. The final round will take place at 9pm, when two of LA’s top bartenders will go head-to-head and vie for the top prize of $500. The event features a live 3-piece jazz band, a Fernet-Branca Ice Luge, a Fernet toast at midnight, and a $5 Templeton Rye Whiskey punch that will be available on December 4th and 5th. The festivities begin at Cole’s at 6pm, no cover. 1930s attire is encouraged.
At Casey Lane’s red hot gastropub The Parish in Downtown LA, bar manager John Coltharp is featuring the Bee’s Knees, made with gin, lemon, and honey. The Bee’s Knees will be specially priced at $8 and only available on Repeal Day. The origin of the drink is lost to history, but historians place its first appearance during Prohibition. The name of this classic cocktail comes from a 1920’s expression for "the height of excellence." Honey was used instead of sugar to mask the bathtub gin.
1933 Group, named after the year that Prohibition was repealed, owns several of LA’s favorite bars. To commemorate the “death” of the 18th Amendment, 1933 Group is asking guests to wear funeral attire and enjoy a special Repeal Day Cocktail for just 50 cents at all of its bars on December 5th. The Repeal Day schedule is as follows:
- Thirsty Crow, Bigfoot Lodge, Bigfoot West, Oldfield’s Liquor Room will open at 5pm, Repeal Day Cocktail available from 5-10pm.
- La Cuevita opens at 7 pm, Repeal Day Cocktail available from 7-10 pm.
- Sassafras will be open at 9 pm, Repeal Day Cocktail available from 9-11 pm.
If you want to celebrate Repeal Day “the Chicago way,” head to Big Bar in Los Feliz for an outdoor screening of Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables, starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery, in his Oscar-winning role. Big Bar’s movie night will be an intimate set up on its heated South Patio, featuring a special outdoor bar serving cocktails, “eat-easy” foods like a 1930's Blue Plate Special, and Peanut Washed Templeton Rye Caramel Corn. Movie starts at 7pm, outdoor bar opens early. Limited seating, early arrival strongly recommended.
Glendale’s popular neighborhood bar is helping its guests get in the holiday spirit. On Repeal Day, Neat is hosting a Christmas tree trimming party. Bring in an ornament to hang on the tree and you’ll get a free “Dealer’s Choice” drink. Technically you can bring as many ornaments as you like to exchange for cocktails, but Dealer’s Choice also means that the bartender can decide when you’ve reached your limit. After all, whether it’s Repeal Day or New Year’s Eve, it’s all about celebrating responsibly.