This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Drinking whiskey in old-time Phoenix - 1911


I'm not much of a drinking man. I like to quaff a beer or two with friends, I've been know to drink gin-and-tonics, and I've even had some whiskey, my preference being the stuff from Tennessee - I forget what it's called. And when I go history adventuring, I often think about how much whiskey people drank back in old-time Phoenix. And it was quite a lot!

Let's go back to Phoenix in 1911 and drink some whiskey. Of course, it's been popular in America for a long time, being the alcoholic beverage of choice, made from corn. America has a LOT of corn, and always has, so it's been the cheapest way to make this type of beverage. In other countries, the beverage of choice may be made out of rice, or potatoes, or agaves, or just about anything, but in the United States of America, it was corn.

Whiskey jug from Melczer Brothers, Phoenix, Arizona.

Since it's 1911, and intoxicating beverages are still legal, we can just walk into Hans Herlick's on Washington just east of Central and buy some whiskey. In fact, whiskey is sold just about everywhere. It will become illegal in Arizona in 1918, and in the United States in 1920, and won't be legal to buy again until 1933. Not that making alcohol illegal during that time (called "Prohibition") did much to cut down on drinking.

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I just saw an ad in the paper that mentioned that Physicians often prescribe a brand called Sunny Brook, so let's go try some. Based on the ad, it kinda looks as if Washington D.C. recommends it, too. I wonder if that's true? Here, I have the paper here, I'll read the ad to you: "Physicians Often Prescribe pure old whiskey as an efficient tonic and stimulant. For fifty years it has been an established fact that Sunny Brook, the pure food Whiskey, is an ideal invigorator, possessing all the wholesome qualities that can only come from scientific distillation and careful ageing. Every bottle is sealed with the Government "Green Stamp" assuring full age, proof, and quantity. All First Class Dealers Sell it."

OK, here we are at Herlick's. What? Do I need to prove I'm 21? Of course not, this is 1911, anyone can buy whiskey.


Attitudes about whiskey have changed in modern days. It's still popular, but laws have changed, including restrictions on age, and advertising. Back in the day, it was used as a popular medicine for everything from toothache to gunshot wounds, but times have changed. If you choose to drink whiskey, please drink responsibly, and don't drink and drive, not even on a horse.