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Booze Is Back: 1934

Booze Is Back: 1934

Washington, D.C., circa 1934. "Leon's Delicatessen, 1131 14th Street NW. Window display of whiskey." Courtesy of Leon Slavin (1893-1975), who, according to his obituary, "obtained the first off-sale retail liquor license in Washington after the repeal of Prohibition." 8x10 negative by Theodor Horydczak. View full size.


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Meadwood was bottled by the American Distilling Company, Pekin, Illinois.

Meadwood is good, honest, straight whiskey …

So, what was in

the "pumpkin" jugs?

[Laird's Applejack. -tterrace]

Re: They don't make 'em like that any more

Sure do; I have one I just finished...

We always used the raffia-wrapped bottles for candles, especially the (groovy) drip ones.

Brandied peaches?

That delicacy might comprise the contents of one of the jars ... or maybe preserved sheep eyeballs.

As to a delicatessen selling booze, the issue of who (if anyone) can sell what alcoholic product varies so much between and within the several states as to render a generalization impossible.

Items in jars

Three kinds. Here's an example of each. None have a label facing forward.

Back in the day

When Calvert was still a top-shelf brand.

Olives or onions?

I count 4 jars with striped lids that appear to be either onions or olives. And yet another jar with a plain lid that also appears to be olives. And are those Angostura Bitters next to the jars?

They don't make 'em like that any more,

or at least I don't think so. Chianti sold in bottles with straw jackets. Back in the sixties and seventies people used to make them into lamp standards.

Booze Utopia

What a beautiful display of booze. It must have sparkled like a case full of diamonds at the finest jewelry store. I imagine that it looked like a mirage in the desert to many people right after Prohibition was repealed.

Was it typical for delicatessens to sell a liquor during that period? This is the first I have heard of it.

2 fewer crowns...

Having drank gallons of Seagram's 7 Crown in my life so far, I'm very curious about how "5 Crown" differed.

[Their budget line. Aged 2 years rather than 4. -tterrace]

"Spirits" of the season

I can imagine a drunk passing out in front of the display, and upon wakening, believing it to be Christmas, no matter what time of year it was.

Re: Oops (and Where's Olive?)

I found the solitary jar of olives. Two shelves above that are a couple more jars; however I think those are pickled onions. Look for them just under the E and L in the word DELICATESSEN.


Fortunately they sold some Uneeda biscuits to help soak up some of that booze!

Nice display...

...but not much variety.


I only see one jar of olives....but 3 jars of what could be Maraschino cherries and a jar of cocktail onions.

Ahead of their time

Next to one of the jars of olives we have Manhattan cocktail, which I assume is pre-mixed. On the other end of the display is Martini cocktail. I always thought pre-mixed cocktails were a modern thing. Perhaps not. Only other thing I can think of is that they're just cocktail shakers, as they have a similar top. Hard to say.

[Below, from a 1934 liquor ad. - Dave]

Olive count

Mel,I count four jars of olives...just saying

Canada Dry Gin

I always wanted to go to Toronto, and drink Canada dry.

Quite a display

Obviously Mr. Slavin was very excited to again sell these products. Since Prohibition officially ended Dec. 5, 1933, perhaps he used "Christmas tinsel" in this display because it was the season, or more likely because he was so happy to be able to sell liquor again.

Is that his own brand of "Leon's" (probably whiskey) in the bottom front row? Maybe he was a private brand pioneer, too.


There are three jars of olives, sorry. Still, outnumbered by a lot.

Where's Olive?

That sure is a lot of booze. Play "Where's Waldo", and look for the lone jar of olives.

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