In 1920 the United States made a bad decision. A nationwide constitutional ban was put on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages. On paper it looked like a decent idea… theoretically, it would reduce crime, corruption, keep people out of prison and improve health in America. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. This experiment, known as “Prohibition,” lasted until 1933.
Just because alcohol was against the law doesn’t mean that people didn’t drink for 13 years. People wanted to drink and they found many ways to do so. Since the alcohol industry in the US was eviscerated, people had to learn to make alcohol themselves. Many saw this as an opportunity and started elaborate operations to make “bootleg” alcohol.
The problem with bootleg alcohol was that it was extremely inconsistent and in some cases very dangerous. Legend has it that improperly made Moonshine (illegally made spirits very high in alcohol content) could cause irreversible blindness.
Fortunately there was an alternative… Smuggling. Alcohol wasn’t illegal everywhere so it just became a matter of getting what was available into the US. The Bahamas was still producing high-quality, low-priced Caribbean Rum. This created a tremendous opportunity for people willing to take a risk.
If you had a boat and a crew willing to take the risk you could be a “Rum Runner.”Since the margins were so good, the risk vs. reward made the short trips extremely lucrative. Technology back then obviously wasn’t what it is today. It was a lot harder to catch smugglers bringing contraband into the country and almost impossible at night. In many cases Rum Runners has less to worry about with the law and more to worry about with their customers.
During Prohibition, the natural entity poised to take over the distribution and sale of alcohol was organized crime. By making alcohol illegal, the US basically handed all the power and influence of the alcohol industry over to the Mob.Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Enoch “Nucky” Johnson and Bugsy Segal were all made famous for their parts in the ruthless war to control the illegal alcohol industry in the US.
Despite good intentions, the US realized it was creating more Evil than Good and lifted the ban on alcohol after 13 long years.
Next time you are out celebrate the fact that Rum no longer needs to be imported illegally into the US by boat with a Rum Runner.
Rum Runner Ingredients
- Slice of Blood Orange
- Basil Leaves
- Fresh Orange Juice
- Fresh Pineapple Juice
- Crème de Casis
- Hibiscus Liqueur
- Zacappa 23
- Hibiscus Flower