In an era of obsession with craft cocktails and fine wines, it is hard to imagine that from 1920-1933 you had to break the law in order to wet your whistle. American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, a new exhibition at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, explores the many facets of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution that foolishly banned the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.
On view from October 19, 2012 - April 18, 2013, the first-of-its-kind exhibition showcases 120 rare artifacts, including original ratification copies of the 18th and 21st Amendments, flapper dresses, homebrewing equipment, and a hatchet used by the feisty Carry Nation during one of her epic barroom smashing raids. There will even be a recreated speakeasy where visitors can learn to dance the Charleston. Spanning from the dawn of the temperance movement, through the Roaring ’20s, to the unprecedented repeal of a constitutional amendment, this exhibition brings the whole story of Prohibition to life.
Did you watch the fabulous Ken Burns documentary Prohibition on PBS? Well, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition was curated by Burns collaborator and Pulitzer Prize finalist Daniel Okrent - author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Of course, we all know the ban on alcohol only increased the public's thirst for booze. People didn't stop drinking - they just found creative ways to break the law and fill their glasses. From Al Capone to flapper girls, the cocktail culture of the 1920's boasts some of the most colorful characters of the 20th century.
Admission to American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is $17.50 for adults. There will also be a series of special events in conjunction with the exhibition, including the Bootlegger's Ball on October 18th.
Where to Stay: Kimpton has just opened the Hotel Monaco in the 100-year-old Lafayette Building on Independence Mall. The four-star property offers 268 rooms, luxury suites, the largest rooftop lounge in Philadelphia, and the 120-seat Red Owl Tavern that serves modern American fare and craft cocktails. You can save 20% off their best available rate through December 31st.
For more tips on planning your trip, check out VisitPhilly.com.