Cocktail Hacker

    Hack What You Drink

Twelve Mile Limit

Posted by Reese on 2010-03-14 @ 10:39pm

I’m exceedingly thankful that Prohibition was repealed.  Let me reiterate.  Thank you to the people who were level headed enough to get rid of this bit of legal weirdness.  We all know about the major details of the time but there are also some really interesting details that are rarely discussed.  For example, one nuance of the Volstead Act that I had no knowledge of was that it was perfectly legal during Prohibition to make up to 200 gallons of wine or cider per year in your home.  Beer, however, was still a no-no.  Or, how about this one.  The use of “intoxicating beverages” was, in fact, not prohibited by the amendment.  Thus, in the time between the passing of the act and when the law went in to effect you had a lot of people stocking up on liquor.  From a guy who has a collection of over 100 bottles when there isn’t a prohibition in effect I see no issue in stocking up.

So, what brought on all this reading about Prohibition?  The Twelve Mile Limit, this week’s cocktail.  This is another one I found in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.  The recipe looks really tasty, but what really got me interested was the back story.  Imagine you’re a rum runner during Prohibition.  You’re bringing a load of rum up from the islands.  How close can you get to the US coast before you have to start worrying about the revenuers?  Well, if it’s early in prohibition, you can get to about 3 miles out and you’re good to go.  Since it wasn’t illegal to own the hooch, only to sell it in the US, people could simply cruise out and pick up whatever they like for personal consumption.  Well, not surprisingly, those in power didn’t much like this.  So, they pushed the limit on territorial waters where Prohibition was concerned out to one hour’s “steaming distance”, generally 12 miles.   This, clearly, made it a lot more difficult for those without serious boats to get out to the liquor sellers.  As a result, the Twelve Mile Limit was concocted as a jab at the rule makers.

To add to the already good story, there is a bit more.  The Twelve Mile Limit is based on another cocktail, listed as the Three Miller cocktail or Three Miler depending on where you look.  There is definitely a link between the two though.  The Three Miler and Twelve Mile Limit include the exact same ingredients, with a minor addition of some rye to the latter.  While I’m going to focus on the Twelve Mile Limit this week, I am going to mix up the Three Miler just to taste the differences.  So, now that you have the unique back story, let’s get started with the tasty part of this week.

Twelve Mile Limit (Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)
1 oz White Rum
1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

And, it’s predecessor:

Three Miller (The Savoy Cocktail Book)
1 tsp Grenadine
1 Dash Lemon Juice
1/3 Bacardi Rum
2/3 Brandy

1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice
2) Shake until combined and well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

*Note:  In case you’re wondering, the US territorial waters weren’t officially extended to 12 miles until long after the end of Prohibition.  In fact, it wasn’t internationally recognized until President Reagan made the claim in 1988.