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My Interest in Prohibition was piqued this week on learning that a couple I know (one half of whom writes a wine blog) were intending on a road trip across western America taking in the wine counties of California and imbibing on the Tequilas and shots of the mid-west, before maybe making it to Coors county in Colorado.

How times must have changed I thought, from the dark days of 1931 when America went dry by the eighteenth amendment and booze was not to be had at all, a time they called ” the noble experiment” when religious fervour shut bars across the states.

All gone now it seemed.  Surely the twenty-first amendment repealing this- swept it all away way back in 1933?  Well no, and far from no it appears.  The above map show those counties in America where the sale of excisable liquor is still banned or restricted.

The legend on the map is fairly straight forward.  Some counties are fully dry some wet, some have half measures.  The majority of dry counties lie in the south where religions, mostly Baptist or LDS (Mormon)  play a part in their maintenance. Fully 18 million people and 10% of the country by area are “dry”.

A 2004 survey by National Beverage Control Association, showed 500 municipalities in the US were dry with 83 of those in Alaska.  Half of Mississippi is dry and four out of 67 counties in Florida are also dry, all lie in the far north of the state nearest to the Deep South.  It was five but Suwannee County voted wet in August last year.  Others have peculiar laws so they sell beer but not wines.  Bad luck Phil.

Interestingly for my road trip planning pals, dry counties have more alcohol related car crashes than do wet counties.  Kentucky residents for instance drive a fair old distance to get smashed, and Arkansas folk famously stagger back and forth across county and state boundaries.

Copyright David Macadam 2012

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