National Bootlegger’s Day Date in the current year: January 17, 2024

National Bootlegger’s Day National Bootlegger’s Day is celebrated on January 17 every year to commemorate alcohol smugglers who became legendary during the Prohibition era.

Bootlegging, also known as rum-running, is the illegal business of smuggling alcohol where it is prohibited by law. The term bootlegging is commonly associated with the Prohibition era, but it originated during the American Civil War, when soldiers would conceal liquor bottles beneath their trouser legs or within their boots to sneak them into camps.

In January 1919, the requisite number of states ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibited the manufacture, importation, sale, and transportation of alcohol in the country. The Prohibition went into effect on January 17, 1920, delivering a heavy blow to the American alcohol industry.

However, it quickly became obvious that Prohibition was not working as intended. Wealthy families had stockpiled liquor for legal home consumption before the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect, and bootlegging became widespread shortly after the beginning of the Prohibition era. In the first half of the year 1920, the federal government opened more than 7,000 cases violating the National Prohibition Act.

Some bootleggers smuggled alcohol from Canada and Mexico, while others distributed locally made moonshine. One of the first bootleggers to capitalize on both production and distribution of illegal alcohol was Alphonse Kerkhoff from Templeton, Iowa. He hired farmers to distill their own whiskey, which came to be known as Templeton Rye, and sold its to speakeasies (illicit establishments selling alcoholic beverages) across Iowa, Michigan, and Omaha. Templeton Rye was said to be the drink of choice of Al Capone, a famous Chicago businessman and crime boss who gained notoriety during the Prohibition era.

Bootleggers used specially modified cars to transport alcohol. They had extra interior room for the illicit alcohol, heavy-duty shock absorbers, and improved engines for speed. After the end of Prohibition in 1933, some of the former bootleggers organized races to keep their skills sharp, which eventually led to the formation of NASCAR.

National Bootlegger’s Day was founded in 2015 by Infinium Spirits, a family-owned spirits company headquartered in San Diego, California. The date of the holiday was chosen to commemorate several events that have to do with bootlegging: the start of the Prohibition era, the birthday of Templeton Rye, the birthday of Al Capone, and the birthday of Meryl Kerkhoff, the son of Alphonse Kerkhoff.

Celebrate National Bootlegger’s Day by learning more about the Prohibition era and bootlegging, enjoying a glass of whiskey or another spirit, and appreciating the fact that you can do it without repercussions (of course, as long as you are of legal drinking age). You can also throw a Prohibition-themed party for your friends and spread the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtags #NationalBootleggersDay and #BootleggersDay.

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National Bootlegger’s Day, observances in the United States, unofficial holidays, Prohibition era, bootlegging