Over at The Smart Set, Kevin Kosar charts the echoes of the 18th Amendment. Even today, we see the Volstead Act’s effects in the low-quality booze out there for mass consumption:
Only the biggest beverage producers survived Prohibition, and when they re-opened they recognized the new norm. Americans had grown accustomed to lightly flavored alcoholic beverages, and so that is what was supplied. The Depression and subsequent second world war only gave the nation’s drink-makers further cause to skimp on grape and grain in production. (Some years ago, I had the chance to taste a bottle of Wilson’s Blended Whiskey from the 1940s. It tasted like watery Canadian Club.) By 1950, the die was cast; Smirnoff was promoting its vodka as flavorless and orderless, and Americans were buying it like crazy.
Along the way, he wisely recommends Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.