More from the cool book my bro’ gave me for Christmas:

Amongst the earlier efforts to regulate alcohol prior to Prohibition was Raines Law, of 1896.  As described by Okrent, Raines Law required saloons in New York State to close on a Sunday- a particularly irritating law given that Sunday, the only day when workers had the day to themselves, was a saloon-keeper’s busiest day.  In the tradition of ‘one law for us, and one law for the little people’, the law exempted many of its proponents from its restrictions, because the ‘us’ in this equation preferred to take their Sunday tipples in hotel restaurants.  Raines wrote the law to exclude any establishment that served meals and had at least ten bedrooms.

What I love about this story is the way, as with any half-baked attempt to stop people having fun, the saloon-keepers got round the law.  They quickly converted their saloons into brothels, to meet the ten-bedroom requirement.  But it’s how they met the requirement to serve food which I really admire:

The requirement that these “hotels” offer food was solved with the invention of the “Raines sandwich,” described by Jacob Riis as “consisting of two pieces of bread with a brick between…set out on the counter in derision of the state law which forbids the serving of drinks without ‘meals’.”

Mmmm, tasty.

Source: Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition p.50

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