By Alix Holmes
The concept of prohibition is tough to fathom in 21st century Colorado when new and exciting places to drink open each week. However, drinking in Colorado wasn’t always legal. On New Year’s Day in 1916, Prohibition began a 17-year drought.
Central City will pay homage to those dry times in June with the 6th annual Stills in the Hills, a Prohibition-themed spirits festival.
Dozens of Colorado craft distilleries will invade Main Street for a historic day of 1920s-themed drinking and festivities. “It’s a perfect setting, a 150-year-old Central City Main Street, once considered the capitol of Colorado,” said festival organizer Joe Behm.
It’s an opportunity to taste some of the state’s best spirits from Bear Creek Distillery, State 38 Distilling, Woods High Mountain Distillery, Spirit Hound Distillers, Breckenridge Distillery and up to 30 others. Guests get to try more than 100 different spirits for just $35.
It’s now been 85 years since the repeal of the 18th Amendment, which ended Prohibition in Colorado on Sept. 26, 1933. Today, festivals such as Stills in the Hills provide a celebration to remind people of the historical significance of those dry times.
Historians note that Prohibition failed to completely stop alcohol consumption because there were ambiguities in the legislation that provided exceptions for some religious or medical reasons. Another allowed beer and spirits to be imported from “wet” states for personal use. Gangsters, bar owners, city officials and hotel managers found their own way to continue enjoying their favorite distilled beverages. They hid bottles of gin, whiskey, and wine underground in safes and tunnels. Some of these locations are still standing today.
Stills in the Hills runs from 1-6 p.m. Saturday, June 30, with live music, food, dancing and vintage cars. “People from all over the U.S. plan trips here for this event, it’s that popular,” Behm said.
So, put on your best flapper dress or pull up your knickers and enjoy a glimpse of the Roaring ‘20s during this speakeasy street fest. Although you must be 21 to participate in the drinking, it’s a family-friendly event.
SoCal native and Thirst Colorado intern Alix Holmes graduated in May from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a degree in technical communications.