On December 5, 1933—79 years ago—Americans raised their glasses as the 21st amendment ended Prohibition. That, my friends, was a reason to celebrate. Hard to imagine the nation thinking that was a good idea. Even harder to think the government bought in to Prohibition knowing it would dam up a river of revenue.

A Bluegrass Barrel spied in a tasting room at Rivers Rum Distillery in Grenada. The barrel held a white rum that had been aged in the barrel, changing the whole character of that 138 proof spirit.

Thankfully, both parties saw fit to harpoon that priggish restriction and today we can celebrate Repeal Day as we see fit—responsibly, of course. St. Charles Exchange and Bluegrass Barrels are doing just that with a special Prohibition-era celebration on Dec. 5.

According to a news release, the Repeal Day Party will run from 5-7 p.m. Bluegrass Barrels, a boutique cooperage that produces personal- and bar-top size barrels in Louisville, will bring some of its wares to the party.

What that means is you get the chance to sample some unique cocktails made from barrel-aged spirits, a rising trend in craft bars like St. Charles Exchange (all the usual places, New York, Philly, D.C.). Sure, we know most whiskies, many rums and all scotches are barrel aged, but bartenders are increasingly taking spirits off the shelf and aging them again in small barrels to produce unique flavors. (I’m aging tequila that way, an experiment I’ll blog about soon.)

Ironically, when I was in Grenada last week, I spied a Bluegrass barrel in the tasting room of a rum distillery (that’s it at right). In it was 138 proof Rivers Rum, a white rum that when sipped straight is fiery. But aged in that barrel rendered it amazingly mellow, rich and soft: a whole different rum. When Rivers took that barrel to the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival that week, attendees drank it dry. Grenadians know their rum, and they recognized immediately that was something special.

(Cool side note: When touring Rivers’ distillery, some of the equipment was marked, “Vendome: Louisville, Ky. Small world.)

There’s food at the party, too, apps like vintage-style deviled eggs and Elvis on Horseback (bacon-wrapped dates) will be available.

Want to really get into the mood? Revelers are encouraged to dress in period attire. (I’m short on Zoot Suits, so if I get to go, expect Normal Wear from me.)

Bluegrass Barrels also will be giving away a barrel to one lucky attendee, so there’s your other reason to go.

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Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.

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