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1 minute reading time (205 words)

How Dirty Was That Martini?

From the start of alcohol prohibition in 1920, many who enjoyed the drink continued to do so, either buying it illegally or making it in their homes. While the concepts of homemade "moonshine" or secret speakeasies tends to make many crack a curious smile, apparently the government was not so amused. 

Apparently, bootleggers were stealing industrial alcohols. They had toxins within but were re-distilled and sold. In order to stop this practice, the government ordered the chemistry of industrial alcohols be re-engineered and basically twice as poisonous. Then, even when re-distilled, as few as three drinks could cause blindness and more could certainly mean death. 

According to Deborah Blum, a professor of science journalism at the University of Wisconsin and author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, the idea was to literally scare individuals sober. She quotes in her book that by the time that Prohibition ended in 1933, the "federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people." 

Let's toast to the fact that we've advanced since prohibition, with more awareness concern for human rights. However, this disturbing bit of history makes us want to see what's in our glass first... what's your take?

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Sunday, August 18, 2019
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