Bathtub Gin … I guess that phrase can bring a number of images to mind – AND I would guess the quality of those images would be based upon your past encounters with bathtubs – either clean or well … you know.
The phrase originated during Prohibition – an era beginning in 1920 when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution declared the production, transport and sale of alcohol illegal. To put teeth into the law, the Volstead Act – named after its sponsor – provided the means to enforce the Amendment.
This over-reaching law was the genesis of a large increase in homemade booze, prisoners, the power of organized crime and corruption within law enforcement agencies. However, the personal consumption or possession of alcohol was not against the law. So, from the consumer’s perspective, all one had to do is find the right hook-up – or make it themselves – hence, the bathtub gin reference.
You could look at that period of history as an early craft liquor progressive movement – a lot of black market booze available for enjoyment – and a fun place to share that illegal liquor with friends in an exciting atmosphere, often with dancing and music, was the local speakeasy.
Jacksonville has a rather new establishment harkening back to that era – The Volstead (115 W Adams Street – 904.414.3171). Companion and I had wanted to visit the establishment even before it opened. Walking by or driving by the place during earlier prowls alerted us it was coming.
We made The Volstead our destination that evening to try some of their giggle water – I mean, I needed to show folks that I knew my onions. Okay, okay – I’ll dispense with the 1920s jargon. Don’t be such a Mrs. Grundy!
Seriously, The Volstead provides a time capsule of the era in its ambiance, comfortable seating and welcoming atmosphere that we are going to make it a regular stop when we are out and about in the future.
The beers on tap that night were (descriptions per breweries’ websites):
Green Room Brewing Double Overhead Double IPA
This brew is a favorite with our beer aficionados. Hoppy and bitter with a piney-grapefruit taste. Well balanced and drinkable, especially for the ABV. Note – 9.1% ABV & 80 IBUs
Aardwolf Brewery Belgian Pale Ale
A refreshing, hoppy Belgian-style ale. Note – 5.9% ABV & 28 IBUs
Guinness Extra Stout
This is it, the one that started it all. Crafted to perfection for over 200 years, GUINNESS® EXTRA STOUT is descended from the definitive West India Porter known as Extra Superior Porter. Crack it open, and the first sip tastes as fresh as ever. The unmistakeable deep-dark color, the crisp hint of roasted barley, the fresh breeze of hops, and the refreshing bite all make for the bittersweet reward. Pure beauty. Pure GUINNESS.
Companion opted for Green Room’s Double Overhead and thoroughly enjoyed it while we visited all the various seating options The Volstead has to offer – both inside and out back.
I was in “full experience mode” and decided I would try a cocktail. I know, I know … but sometimes you’re in the mood for a jorum of skee or such. I chose the (description per their menu):
The Volstead Candied Painted Sidecar
We put a fresh coat of paint on the original, and man does it look fly. Meukow cognac, blood orange liqueur, lemon juice, agave nectar and black truffle tincture. Need I say more?
WOW! … it was sweetly delicious! It is going to be tough going back and not getting that again – but I am intrigued with their cocktail menu (viewable on their website). One selection really caught my eye – the Brandy Alexander. I would have liked to get one of those as well that night but I didn’t want to get too ossified.
When you find it time to iron one’s shoelaces, you’ll find the restrooms very clean and in keeping with the era’s motif. Sorry – that’s right – I told you I wouldn’t break into 1920s jargon.
From the living room seating in the front to the bar’s significant amount of seating to the outside seating area in the rear of the building, you will find a comfortable place to spend your visit.
We enjoyed our discussions with Matt and Christie, the two servers who took care of us that night in a splendid style.
I wish to express my appreciation to the staff for a wonderful first experience at The Volstead – certainly a regular destination on future Jax Brew Bitch Prowls.
It was most decidedly darb! Hey! … if you don’t like my choice of words, go tell it to Sweeney!
Green Room Brewing
Aardwolf Pub & Brewery
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