The back of the handle of the julep strainer was marked “International Silver Co., Silver Soldered” and “The Waldorf Astoria 1933”. What significance did that year 1933 have? What happened at the Waldorf Astoria in 1933?
And so the search began…but it wasn’t a long search; the answer was quickly found. Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 and supposedly the first legal drink after repeal was consumed at the Waldorf Astoria by author Benjamin DeCasseres. It is said that United Press arranged this photo op and story.
National Prohibition went into effect on October 30, 1919 and remained in force for over 14 years. Oscar Tschirky, long time employee of the Waldorf Astoria, drew the first legal cork in the hotel’s Norse Grill. Oscar also celebrated with the kitchen staff saying “Repeal has injected a new spirit into the souls of good chefs who were unable, for the past 13 years, to exercise to the full extent, their culinary art without the use of fine wines and spirits.”
Anticipating successful repeal on December 5, 1933, about 170 directors of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment gathered at the Waldorf Astoria for a celebratory dinner. The Association disbanded the following morning.
The Waldorf Astoria itself even planned a “Repeal Dinner” at the hotel on the following day, December 6th. This advertisement came from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 5, 1933:
The following is a detail of a photo showing a strainer being put to use by the head barman at the Waldorf Astoria in late 1934:
This julep strainer strainer marked “The Waldorf Astoria 1933” is available at my Etsy shop:
You can find it here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/181111686/international-silver-co-julep-strainer
To see julep strainers, bar spoons and other bar related items in my Etsy shop, click here: