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Cane River Journal

The Coming of Prohibition: Rum Punch

The Coming of Prohibition: Rum Punch

Many of us can easily conjure up images of speakeasies and gangsters when one thinks of the Roaring Twenties.  Yet, we often forget the up-welling of prohibitionist sentiments that created this vision. The waves of prohibition fervor created by Carrie Nation and her hatchet washed away the presence of saloons in Natchitoches between 1892 and 1909. Though public consumption lessened in Natchitoches, the thought of complete prohibition rested uneasy as it threatened deep-rooted family traditions as well as cultural norms. 

Sugar has played a formative role in the history of Louisiana, and this dark and sticky history has been bittersweet. In the realm of drinking history, this industry gives rise to America’s first distilled spirit; rum. Often referred to as Kill Devil, this liquor was a harsh drink for a harsh time. The “cocktail” allowed for the taming of this “hot, hellish, and terrible liquor”. Seen in many Punch houses and drawing rooms of fine planter homes was the large bowl of Rum Punch. By the turn of the 20th century this drink had left the punch bowl and could be seen in a single serving glass.

Click here to watch a video of our heritage ranger going over some of the history of the drink!