Alcohol in the Twentieth Century
Resistance to alcohol grew during the nineteenth century. Social conservatives worried about the effects of alcohol abuse on individuals and communities. In 1874, the first national convention of the Women's Christian Temperance Union was held. The Union promoted the movement for prohibition in the United States and tried to shut down saloons. They blamed male drinking for prostitution, child abuse, and poverty.
The Temperance Movement steadily gained a huge following worldwide, resulting in bans on alcohol. Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia/Soviet Union, and the United States all enacted bans on alcohol in the first decades of the twentieth century. In the United States, the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the sale and production of alcoholic beverages beginning in 1920.
Nearly 14 years and three constitutional amendments later, Congress repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, but not before Prohibition wreaked havoc on the American alcohol industry. Breweries, distilleries, and wineries were forced to shutter themselves, damaging an emerging market.
But Prohibition proved impossible to enforce. Americans continued to consume alcohol, smuggled in illegally from neighboring countries or produced illegally within U.S. borders. Speakeasies flourished; there were more speakeasies during Prohibition than there were legitimate bars before the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect.
The American alcohol market rebounded after 1933, and the twentieth century saw floods of new products and cocktails. A fictional British agent named James Bond put a handsome face to the Martini. In Ian Fleming's original novel, Bond orders a dry Martini served in a deep champagne goblet with three measures of Gordon's gin, one of Gordon's vodka, and half a measure of Lillet dry vermouth shaken very well until ice-cold, with a garnish of lemon peel. This is the first reference to combining both vodka and gin in a Martini.
Public awareness of the dangers of overindulgence remains an issue. In 1980, Candy Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) after a drunk driver killed her 13-year-old daughter, Cari. The United States set the legal drinking age at 21 years in 1984.
The last two decades have seen an onslaught of new drinks. Malt beverages hit store shelves in the 1990s. Smirnoff Ice debuted in 2001 in the United States and quickly captured the market. In the world of cocktails, bartenders strove to invent quirky new drinks to keep patrons interested, aided by exotic products like Blavod black vodka.