Prohibition, America’s great (failed) social experiment in temperance, ended with a whimper on December 5, 1933 and thirsty people across the country raised their glasses to toast its demise. Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles commemorated the happy day with a Prohibition Repeal Party this past Friday night. Guys and dolls dressed in their best Roaring ‘20s glad rags gathered in the Angel City’s newly remodeled Beer Hall to celebrate the anniversary of Repeal Day. The large open space reminiscent of a warehouse straight out of Boardwalk Empire, walls stacked with oak beer barrels and shiny silver kegs, was transformed into a Prohibition-style speakeasy for its first public event. At one end of the room, music performed by the Evangenitals, an indie/folk/rock/jazz band, enlivened the early stages of the party. People lined up at the long bar to sample Angel City’s craft beers, specialty beer cocktails, and enjoyed plates of food supplied by KTCHN, noted for their innovative pop-up culinary experiences. Emily Hope, Angel City’s Impresario of Events said, “we’ve all felt that our new space needed to have a Prohibition party.” And what a party it was!
A legion of bartenders kept busy pouring a variety of Angel City beers for the crowd. From the medium-bodied Gold Line Pilsner and Pomegranate Saison through the bold Angeleno IPA and Eureka! Wit, all the way to the uniquely aromatic, For the Saké of Ale, and the dark, rich Imperial Chai Stout, my personal favorite. The Pilsner Mule cocktail, originally created by Tony Pereaya of The Spirits in Motion, combines Gold Line Pilsner, ginger syrup, and fresh lime juice for a refreshing twist.
The people at Angel City see the brewery as more than just a business; they view themselves as an integral part of the surrounding community and the company has a strong commitment to bettering that community. As Ms. Hope said, “Angel City is all about helping the community.” Partnering with such organizations as the Midnight Mission, LAMP Community, Fruit Forward, and the L.A. County Bike Coalition, they work to help raise funds and increase awareness of the issues facing an area of Los Angeles undergoing radical change.
Partygoers came for a variety of reasons. Some were interested in the historical aspect of the day; some came for the fun of dressing up as flappers and gangsters, while some just came for the beer and the music. Guests had their photos taken at an impromptu photo booth, munched on gumbo fries and fried green tomatoes from KTCHN, “smoked” candy cigarettes, drank beer and partied like it was 1933.
At 9:30, our hosts distributed samples of Imperial Chai Stout to the assembled company. Angel City’s Todd Lanker proposed a toast to Franklin Delano Roosevelt whose promise to end Prohibition doubtlessly helped him win the 1932 election. In March of 1933, as the 21st Amendment worked its way toward ratification, FDR remarked to his dinner guests before one of his Fireside Chats, “I think this would be a good time for a beer,” possibly one of the most understated presidential addresses, ever. Happy days were truly here again. We raised our glasses and drank to the 32nd President. After this stirring toast, Marissa Gomez and the Ghosts of Echo Park took the stage. Marissa and her trio of keyboard, string bass and drums, played a blend of honky-tonk, blues, and smoky 30’s era torch songs, enhancing the speakeasy feel.
Gangsters and their molls, well-heeled gentlemen, and flappers mingled until 11 o’clock and everyone considered the party a rousing success. Angel City plans to make this an annual event. So if you are in Los Angeles next December, be sure to attend the Repeal Day party for a unique fun-filled evening.