The End of Prohibition in the Czech Republic
They’ll be dancing in the streets
There’ll be sex in the dumpsters
There’ll be vomit on your shoes
They’ll be passed out in the loo
It’s the End of Prohibition
in the Czech Republicky!
It’s gonna be all the liquor we can drink
for you and for meeeeeee!
Well it’s not the end of prohibition in the Czech Republic just yet. Everyone is still reeling a bit over the actual situation of prohibition …. here…. and in 2012! It made international news a week or so ago, and much has been written about it thus far I’m sure. If you’ve been on a mountain in Nepal or canoeing down the Amazon, let me catch you up: a bad batch of bootleg booze got circulated mostly around Moravia, the eastern part of Czech Republic, tainted with fatal methanol that has killed 24 people to date. Others have been permanently blinded.
The hammer came down on Friday, 14 September, when the Czech government made an immediate decision to ban the sale of all alcohol stronger than 20%. Within hours, and at the start of the weekend, police were hitting all the liquor establishments with orders to have all strong stuff either taken off the shelves or covered up and banned for sale under penalty of hefty fine and up to 10 years in prison.
Truthfully, when I decided to move to Prague I was naively unaware of it’s party reputation. Apart from privileged college students or trustafarians, not many Americans have it on the radar as a top destination. In Europe, however, it’s a different story (rather like how Robbie Williams isn’t so famous Stateside). Few Prague weekends are without a wandering stag party (usually on a quick jaunt from UK), and it’s big with Erasmus students soaking up the alcohol available 24 hours. A couple years ago the CR government also relaxed the drug laws, as the Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular became more restrictive, thus shining the international beacon of indulgence upon us and furthering Prague’s reputation as a Disneyland for drinkers.
Although some say that only a ban on pork would upset the Czechs more than taking away their strong alcohol, at least the beer for which the land is famous is still readily available, Via my true and trusted Owl (as with my namesake of Minerva, I also have an Owl as sidekick, informant and confidant, and I’ll be mentioning her more), I’ve heard some interesting feedback from the bartenders’ points of view. Bars, clubs and restaurants are of course still open and serving the softer stuff at enticing prices. But as the prohibition stretches into it’s second week, Czech distillers are beginning to panic and the loss of revenue isn’t good for the economy. Yes, it’s that much a part of the economy.
But what the bartenders are wary of is the end of the prohibition (the idea that inspired the song at the beginning of this post – it has no real tune, just sing it in an uplifting cadence). They may be right. I call it the beachball theory – that a large inflated ball can’t be held too long underwater before it shoots a relatively equal distance into the air. Like how the weaker of my freshman class in college were weeded out that year when they couldn’t handle the excesses allowed their first time out from under parents’ jurisdiction.
Time will tell how this new age prohibition will play out. Most seem to think the ban will be a few weeks at most. Others are putting the call out for imports (if you’re coming to visit from another country, bring a bottle or 3 since the ban only includes domestic liquor). I personally have been taking a 30 day break from beer, something I do maybe once a year mostly just to prove my fortitude, though this time I might have been better served (pun intended) a month earlier.