The NEA BIG READ kick-off event was a great success. Thank you, Blanche, for a great day! There were Dust Bowl Dancers, young actors reading excerpts from the Grapes of Wrath, marvelous fiddlers and my stories about Prohibition. The signature drink was Bee’s Knees, a classic prohibition cocktail made with gin, honey syrup and fresh lemon. We all know that the “Bee’s Knees” was “flapper chatter” for the best of the best, but did you know that in the Roaring Twenties there was a famous dancer, Bee Jackson, who introduced the Charleston to Broadway. Rumor has it, the expression became popular because of her very active knees—oh those Bee’s Knees!
Another popular cocktail, the Ward Eight, was actually created by the bartender at Lock-Ober’s restaurant on election eve 1898 at the request of Martin Lomasney, the political boss of Ward Eight in the West End of Boston to mark the occasion. Essentially it was a whiskey sour to which orange juice and grenadine were added giving it a rosy glow. Because it was the perfect mask for homemade rye, the cocktail made a great comeback during Prohibition. It was considered the “Cosmo” of it’s day!