PBS

Drinks, Crime And Prohibition And Ken Burns's Prohibition

Toby Ball and I discuss whether either of these takes on the 18th Amendment will slake your thirst for knowledge.

The Smithsonian Channel premiered a documentary special on Prohibition last week, and while my guest Toby Ball and I learned a lot of new cocktail recipes, we also kind of couldn't figure out who the show is for -- heritage-drinks fans? history buffs? the collectibles market? It's a serviceable show, but superfluous, because...

...we also watched Ken Burns's 2011 three-parter, Prohibition, which in addition to a firmer grasp of its brief and of building a historical narrative also features the Mayor of Hollywood; no distractingly cartoonish re-enactments; and the kind of voice-over writing that makes you want to learn more, not change the channel.

Both documentaries pointed up certain unsettling parallels to today's political landscape, and both made us endure jazz. Would we recommend either? Pour yourself an extra-dry paint-thinner-tini and find out in an all-new The Blotter Presents.

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