If you’d like to learn more about Prohibition in Georgia, grab your tickets soon for Prohibition in the Park in Sandy Springs, GA on July 29. Organized by Heritage Sandy Springs, Prohibition in the Park is a fundraiser that will examine the interesting history of Prohibition from Sandy Springs to metro-Atlanta while presenting some unique drinks in four cocktail bars and a speakeasy on the grounds of the park.
Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle, who wrote Prohibition in Atlanta: Temperance, Tiger Kings and White Lightning, will also be on hand to talk about their book and the history of Prohibition. You can buy their book at http://amzn.to/2vD5V32.
Bourbon and Barns recently caught up with some of the folks behind Prohibition in the Park to learn more about the event and about Prohibition in Georgia. Melissa Swindell, Director of Historic Resources and Education Programs at Heritage Sandy Springs, was kind of to answer some of our questions about the event. Authors Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle also provided responses to help us understand a little more about the Prohibition Era in Georgia.
Bourbon & Barns: What is Prohibition in the Park? Are tickets still available?
Melissa Swindell: Prohibition in the Park is a fundraiser for Heritage Sandy Springs.
Tickets are still available, on our website at: https://heritagesandysprings.org/3485-2/events/prohibition/. Use code GROUP to receive a discount on tickets for groups of five or more.
In a joint venture with the Farmers Market and Historic Resources, Heritage Sandy Springs will present the history of moonshine and speakeasies from Sandy Springs, to the metro-Atlanta area, and throughout the state of Georgia. Four cocktail bars and a speakeasy will feature the unique histories of five liquors. At each of the five bars, sponsored by The Savvy Cellars and JR Revelry Bourbon Whiskey, guests will receive complimentary cocktail tasting infused with fruit and herbs from the Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market.
Guests can experience the feel of the Prohibition-era in the cigar lounge, sponsored by Sandy Springs Cigars. Hors d'oeuvres will be prepared by Brooklyn Café, Savor Bar & Kitchen, Slope’s Barbeque. Marla Feeney’s jazz music will help create a Prohibition-era atmosphere, while authors Mary O. Boyle and Ron Smith discuss their historical book Prohibition in the Park, with interested guests. This book has generously been donated to the event’s silent auction, as well as a one-of-a-kind Frabel glass sculpture. A full list of silent auction items can be found at www.32auctions.com/prohibition17, where online bidding is open to the public.
BB: How did you come up with the idea for this event?
MS: Other historic house museums have hosted garden parties as fundraisers. We wanted to put a unique twist to this concept. Many ideas floated around before we settled on Prohibition in the Park. We wanted an event that would include the history of our community, something that would grab and hold people’s attention. Thinking about this, I remembered that in our archives we have photographs of a still bust in Sandy Springs, along with other documents recording this history. This concept got the ball rolling. We pulled in Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle, authors ofProhibition in Atlanta, along with a local bourbon distillery, and the idea grew from there.
BB: The event will include a presentation about the history of moonshine and speakeasies from Sandy Springs to the metro Atlanta area, so let’s talk about Prohibition for a moment. I understand Georgia instituted a statewide Prohibition against alcohol from 1908 until 1935, which actually predates (and extends beyond) national Prohibition. Did Georgia have a strong Temperance movement that supported limits on alcohol?
Ron Smith and Mary O. Boyle: Yes. Georgia’s temperance history is older than the state itself. In 1735, England’s Parliament enacted a law prohibiting the importation of distilled spirits into the Colony of Georgia. In the 1870s traveling tent revivals with celebrity fire-and-brimstone preachers encouraged temperance through social activism. In 1885, Atlanta become the largest city to ever “go dry” by popular vote. As the nation was repealing the Eighteenth Amendment, the Georgia Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was holding its fifty-year anniversary celebration in Augusta, GA! The powerful lobbying of the Georgia WCTU and Anti-Saloon League held onto legal alcohol control as long as they could following repeal of national Prohibition.
BB: How did residents in Georgia respond to Prohibition? Were there a lot of moonshiners, illegal distillers and bootleggers in Georgia?
RS & MB: Response to Prohibition was mixed. A good analogy is the 1970s “war on drugs” that wore on and wore out American’s patience regardless of their ideology.
Moonshining was already prevalent prior to local, state, or national Prohibition. During the Civil War moonshiners smuggled whiskey into Atlanta under the pretense of taking it to hospitals for medicinal use. During Prohibition moonshining became more lucrative. While federal and state governments faced off over how best to enforce alcohol law, moonshine flowed like a river from rural areas into Georgia’s cities.
BB: Did cities, such as Atlanta, have a lot of speakeasies where residents would drink illegally?
RS & MB: The “speakeasy” as we think of it in modern times, occurred mainly in the largest northeastern cities. The term most commonly used in the South was “blind tiger.” These blind tigers could be the worst dives to fairly complex operations and there were hundreds if not thousands of them within Georgia’s cities during the Prohibition years. In 1910, a large blind tiger operation was discovered in the Georgia State Capitol building!
BB: Tickets to Prohibition in the Park come with five complimentary tastings of specialty craft cocktails, including some made with J.R. Revelry, a local bourbon brand and an event sponsor. What can you tell us about the cocktails that will be served at the event?
MS: The hardest part of planning this event was tasting all the cocktails. My favorite is the Heart of Sandy Springs, bourbon, lemon juice, and red wine. I was leery of the mix, at first, but was pleasantly surprised! Each cocktail is named for a unique aspect of Sandy Springs. Our non-profit, Heritage Sandy Springs was founded to save the original springs for which the City is named, hence Splash of Springs. Rum drinks, The King’s Mojito and The Queen’s Lemonade, are named for our iconic skyscrapers affectionately known as The King and Queen Buildings.
BB: What is Heritage Sandy Springs? Do you have other events throughout the year?
MS: Heritage Sandy Springs was founded in the 1980s by local citizens who formed a grassroots organization to “save the springs.” At that time, the springs for which the city of Sandy Springs is named was slated for redevelopment. This group rallied around the cause, and was not only able to save the springs, but in the process created a local park, and saved a historic house.
For more information on Heritage Sandy Springs, go to www.heritagesandysprings.org
You can buy Smith and Boyle’s book Prohibition in Atlanta at http://amzn.to/2vD5V32.