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Absinthe & Al Capone At William Barnacle Tavern


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Chere Gaona



Welcome to the fascinating world of food travel! Exploring different cuisines and experiencing the culinary delights of various destinations is a true passion for many avid travelers. Food can offer a glimpse into the culture, traditions, and history of a place, making it an essential component of any travel experience. In this article, we will delve into the exciting realm of food travel, where we combine the love for exploring new flavors with the joy of discovering new destinations.


Food travel involves immersing yourself in the local culinary scene of a particular region or country. It goes beyond simply dining out and seeking popular restaurants; it is about exploring local markets, street food stalls, and traditional kitchens to truly understand and appreciate the unique flavors and techniques of a destination. Whether it’s savoring a plate of authentic pasta in Italy, indulging in a spicy bowl of pho in Vietnam, or sampling mouthwatering tapas in Spain, food travel allows you to dive deep into the rich gastronomic heritage of different cultures.


One of the most exciting aspects of food travel is the opportunity to try traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations. Each bite tells a story, connecting you to the history, traditions, and people of a place. From hearty stews and fragrant curries to delicate pastries and refreshing beverages, every cuisine has its own distinct flavors and ingredients that reflect the local culture and geography.


Food and travel have an inseparable bond, as they both offer a sense of adventure and exploration. Just as traveling allows you to discover new landscapes and immerse yourself in different cultures, food introduces you to the essence of a place through its flavors and aromas. The combination of these two passions creates a truly enriching and memorable experience.


Whether you’re planning a trip or simply love to explore new cuisines from the comfort of your home, this article will be your guide to food travel. We will delve into the history of different dishes, explore the local food scenes, recommend must-try dishes, and provide tips on how to make the most of your food travel adventures. So, get ready to embark on a mouthwatering journey as we explore the delectable world of food travel!


History of Absinthe

Absinthe, often referred to as the “Green Fairy,” is a highly alcoholic spirit that gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is characterized by its distinct green color and strong herbal flavor, primarily derived from the botanical ingredient Artemisia absinthium, or wormwood.


The origins of absinthe can be traced back to Switzerland in the late 18th century, where it was first created as a medicinal tonic. It was believed to have various health benefits, including digestive aid and relief from ailments such as anemia and indigestion. However, its unique flavor and intoxicating effects quickly caught the attention of the general public, leading to the rise of absinthe as a popular beverage.


During the mid-19th century, absinthe gained immense popularity, particularly in France. It became the drink of choice for artists, writers, and bohemians, who were attracted to its vibrant green color, hallucinogenic reputation, and association with creativity. The “absinthe craze” swept across Europe, with absinthe bars emerging as social hubs where people gathered to indulge in the spirit’s unique allure.


However, the popularity of absinthe began to wane due to increasing concerns over its alleged adverse effects and the temperance movement, which advocated for the prohibition of alcohol. Absinthe was accused of causing madness, hallucinations, and even violent behavior, leading to it being banned in several countries.


Modern scientific research has debunked many of the myths surrounding absinthe, specifically its association with hallucinations. The compound thought to be responsible for these effects, thujone, is found in trace amounts in absinthe and is unlikely to cause significant psychoactive effects. However, it is important to note that absinthe is still a high-proof spirit and should be consumed responsibly.


In recent years, there has been a revival of absinthe, with distilleries around the world producing their own interpretations of this iconic spirit. Absinthe enthusiasts and connoisseurs can now enjoy a variety of styles and flavors, from traditional absinthe made with the classic botanicals to modern interpretations with unique twists.


Whether you’re a fan of the classics or curious to explore the world of absinthe for the first time, this historical and intriguing spirit offers a glimpse into an era of artistic decadence and cultural revolution.


Prohibition Era and Al Capone

The Prohibition era in the United States, from 1920 to 1933, was a significant period in American history marked by the nationwide ban on the production, importation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. This era gave rise to a booming underground economy and the emergence of organized crime syndicates, with one of the most notorious figures being Al Capone.


Al Capone, also known as “Scarface,” rose to prominence as a leading figure in organized crime during the Prohibition era. His criminal empire, based in Chicago, thrived on bootlegging, smuggling, and selling illegal alcohol. Capone, with his calculated business tactics and ruthless demeanor, quickly became the quintessential symbol of the era—wealthy, influential, and untouchable.


Capone’s empire extended beyond the illegal alcohol trade. He had his hands in various illicit activities, including gambling, prostitution, and racketeering. His control over Chicago’s underground activities made him one of the most powerful and feared mobsters of his time.


During the Prohibition era, many Americans sought to circumvent the alcohol ban by indulging in illegal speakeasies and consuming bootlegged spirits, such as moonshine or smuggled liquor. These underground establishments became hotspots for socializing, entertainment, and of course, alcohol consumption.


Al Capone’s influence and control over Chicago’s illegal alcohol trade allowed him to amass great wealth and power. He operated a vast network of speakeasies, supplying them with high-quality bootlegged spirits to cater to the demand of the people. Capone’s ability to provide a steady supply of alcohol and maintain control over the distribution networks solidified his stature as one of the most successful and feared bootleggers of the time.


Despite his involvement in illegal activities, Al Capone was seen by many as a charismatic and generous figure. He was known to distribute food and money to the poor during the Great Depression, earning him some support from the public.


However, Capone’s reign of power came to an end when he was convicted of tax evasion in 1931. Although he continued to be involved in organized crime after his release from prison, his influence and control were significantly diminished.


The Prohibition era and Al Capone’s rise to power represent a unique time in American history when illegal alcohol flowed freely, and organized crime thrived. It is a period that has captivated the imagination of many and continues to be romanticized and remembered today.


William Barnacle Tavern

Located in the heart of Chicago, the William Barnacle Tavern holds a special place in the history of the city and its connection to the Prohibition era. This iconic establishment was a popular speakeasy during the 1920s, frequented by locals and notorious figures of the time, such as Al Capone.


The tavern, named after its owner William Barnacle, was nestled in a discreet corner of the city, hidden away from prying eyes. Its inconspicuous exterior masked the lively atmosphere and illicit activities taking place inside. The speakeasy became known for its live music, spirited patrons, and, most importantly, its secret supply of alcohol.


William Barnacle Tavern operated as a front for an extensive network of illegal alcohol distribution. It served as a hub for bootlegged spirits, smuggled from various sources and carefully hidden to avoid detection by law enforcement. The establishment became known for its high-quality alcoholic beverages, attracting a wide range of clientele, from everyday citizens looking to unwind to notorious gangsters seeking a drink in a safe and welcoming environment.


The tavern’s reputation for excellent service and discretion made it a popular destination for those seeking to enjoy a night out without the fear of legal consequences. The atmosphere inside the tavern was vibrant and lively, with the sounds of music, laughter, and clinking glasses filling the air.


Despite the constant threat of raids and the ever-looming presence of law enforcement, William Barnacle Tavern managed to thrive as a hidden gem in Chicago’s bustling nightlife scene. It became a symbol of defiance against the Prohibition laws and a testament to the resilient spirit of both its clientele and the owners.


The legacy of William Barnacle Tavern is still recognized and celebrated today. While the original establishment no longer exists, its spirit lives on in the many stories and legends passed down through generations. The tavern serves as a reminder of a bygone era when the consumption of alcohol was illegal but thrived nevertheless.


Visiting Chicago today, one can still explore the remnants of the Prohibition era and imagine the lively atmosphere of speakeasies like William Barnacle Tavern. It stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and its enduring connection to the infamous era of bootlegging and organized crime.


Absinthe and Al Capone’s Connection at William Barnacle Tavern

The connection between absinthe and Al Capone at William Barnacle Tavern is a fascinating aspect of Chicago’s Prohibition era history. As one of Chicago’s most notorious speakeasies, William Barnacle Tavern played a significant role in the illegal alcohol trade, including the distribution of absinthe.


Absinthe, with its potent reputation and distinctive green color, was a popular choice among the patrons of William Barnacle Tavern. The mysterious allure of this herbal spirit, along with its association with creative minds and bohemian culture, made it a favorite among the sophisticated and notorious clientele of the time, including Al Capone.


Capone, known for his love of indulgence and luxury, was known to visit William Barnacle Tavern on numerous occasions to enjoy the illicit pleasures it offered. The tavern’s carefully crafted cocktails, including various absinthe-based concoctions, catered to Capone’s refined taste and desire for exclusivity.


While the exact details of Capone’s preferred absinthe cocktail are uncertain, it is believed that he had a particular fondness for a variation of the classic absinthe drip, a method of serving absinthe with ice-cold water dripping over a sugar cube into the glass. This ritualistic process accentuates the flavors and releases the aromatic oils from the herbs, creating a unique and mesmerizing drinking experience.


Capone’s presence at William Barnacle Tavern, along with his preference for absinthe, further elevated the speakeasy’s reputation and made it even more appealing to both locals and those seeking an encounter with the infamous mobster. The atmosphere inside the tavern mirrored the aura of secrecy and indulgence that surrounded Capone, creating an air of excitement and danger that drew people in.


The connection between absinthe and Al Capone at William Barnacle Tavern represents the convergence of two iconic elements of the Prohibition era. It epitomizes the allure of the forbidden and the pursuit of pleasure in defiance of the restrictive laws of the time.


Although the Prohibition era has long passed, the legacy of absinthe and its association with figures like Al Capone continues to captivate and intrigue. Today, absinthe is enjoyed legally and has regained its status as a sought-after spirit among cocktail enthusiasts and connoisseurs. However, the connections to the fascinating history of William Barnacle Tavern and its role in the illicit world of the Prohibition era remain ingrained in the lore and legends of Chicago’s past.


The Role of Absinthe in 1920s Chicago

In 1920s Chicago, the role of absinthe extended beyond being just a popular spirit enjoyed by the city’s residents. It played a significant part in the social scene, illicit nightlife, and the culture of the time, particularly during the Prohibition era.


As the sale of alcohol was banned during this period, the demand for illicit spirits skyrocketed, leading to the rise of speakeasies and the underground alcohol trade. Absinthe, with its allure and reputation for being a potent and exotic spirit, quickly became a sought-after choice among the sophisticated and adventurous crowd.


Absinthe had a certain mystique that captivated the imagination, making it a symbol of rebellion and counterculture. Its vibrant green color, derived from the herbs and botanicals used in its production, further added to its alluring appeal.


Speakeasies, like the famous William Barnacle Tavern, became hotspots for absinthe consumption. These establishments served as clandestine havens where people could gather to socialize and enjoy the illegal pleasures of the era. Absinthe was a staple on their drink menus, often served in creative and elaborate presentations to enhance the drinking experience.


The consumption of absinthe was not only about the act of drinking; it became an experience in itself. The ritualistic nature of serving absinthe, with the use of specialized glassware, slotted spoons, and the slow drip of ice-cold water over a sugar cube, added an element of theater and anticipation to the process.


Absinthe’s unique flavor profile, characterized by the bitter notes of wormwood and the complex herbal blend, contributed to its appeal as well. While it was an acquired taste for some, absinthe enthusiasts appreciated its depth, complexity, and the lingering herbal aftertaste.


Moreover, absinthe culture went beyond the speakeasies and into the world of art and literature. Many artists and writers of the time, including Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso, were known to indulge in absinthe, believing that it sparked creativity and inspiration. This association with the artistic and bohemian lifestyle further cemented absinthe’s place in the cultural fabric of 1920s Chicago.


However, the popularity of absinthe began to decline in the late 1920s, as the Prohibition era drew to a close. The ban on alcohol was lifted in 1933, and the demand for absinthe gradually waned, giving way to other spirits and cocktails in the post-Prohibition era.


Nevertheless, the role of absinthe in 1920s Chicago remains a significant part of the city’s history. It symbolized rebellion against the restrictive laws, represented a taste of the exotic, and added an element of glamour and sophistication to the thriving underground nightlife of the time. Today, absinthe continues to be enjoyed legally, and its legacy as a drink that captured the spirit of the Prohibition era lives on.


The Legend of Al Capone’s Favorite Absinthe Cocktail

The Prohibition era in Chicago gave rise to many legends and stories surrounding the notorious gangster Al Capone. One of the enduring tales is that of Capone’s favorite absinthe cocktail, a concoction that has become a part of the lore surrounding his larger-than-life persona.


While the exact details of Capone’s preferred absinthe cocktail remain shrouded in mystery, there are several versions of this legendary drink that have been passed down through the years.


One popular tale suggests that Capone’s favorite absinthe cocktail was a variation of the classic Sazerac. This cocktail typically consists of rye whiskey, absinthe, sugar, and Peychaud’s bitters. Capone’s version may have featured a higher proportion of absinthe, giving it a stronger and more pronounced herbal flavor.


Another variation of the legend suggests that Capone enjoyed his absinthe served in a manner similar to the traditional absinthe drip. This method involves placing a sugar cube on a slotted spoon placed over a glass containing a measure of absinthe. Ice-cold water is then slowly dripped onto the sugar cube, causing it to dissolve and mix with the absinthe, creating a louche effect as the drink turns from green to a milky opalescence.


Regardless of the specific recipe, the legend of Capone’s favorite absinthe cocktail speaks to his refined taste and penchant for indulgence. It is said that he would only drink the finest absinthe, imported from Europe, further adding to his reputation as a man of wealth and luxury.


This legendary cocktail represents more than just a drink preference for Capone. It symbolizes the extravagant lifestyle and the larger-than-life image that he cultivated during his reign as one of Chicago’s most powerful mobsters. The allure of the forbidden absinthe paired with Capone’s own lavish persona creates a captivating tale that has endured through the decades.


While the specific details of Capone’s favorite absinthe cocktail may forever remain a mystery, it serves as an intriguing piece of the Prohibition era history. Whether factual or fictional, this legend adds layers of intrigue and mystique to the legacy of Al Capone and his connection to the world of absinthe.



Food travel is a captivating journey that allows us to explore new destinations through the lens of culinary experiences. From savoring exotic flavors to immersing ourselves in vibrant local food scenes, this form of travel offers a unique opportunity to connect with cultures and traditions around the world.


In this article, we have delved into various aspects of food travel, with a focus on the intriguing connection between absinthe, Al Capone, and the Prohibition era in Chicago. From the history of absinthe and its rise in popularity during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the speakeasies of Chicago and Capone’s influence, we have explored the intertwined stories that paint a fascinating picture of a bygone era.


William Barnacle Tavern, a renowned speakeasy in Chicago, played a significant role in the Prohibition era’s clandestine world. It became a hub for the distribution of illegal alcohol, including absinthe, and attracted notorious figures like Al Capone, who frequented the establishment seeking both luxury and anonymity.


The role of absinthe in 1920s Chicago was not limited to its consumption but also encompassed its cultural significance. It became a symbol of rebellion, elegance, and sophistication, capturing the spirit of the time and adding an aura of mystique to the city’s underground nightlife scene.


As we discussed the legend of Al Capone’s favorite absinthe cocktail, we further immersed ourselves in the intriguing tales of the Prohibition era. While the specifics of Capone’s preferred drink may remain unknown, the legend serves as a reminder of the extravagant lifestyle and larger-than-life persona of a man who became synonymous with the era of bootlegging and organized crime.


In conclusion, food travel offers us a way to explore the world through our taste buds, discovering the rich flavors and cultural heritage of different destinations. The stories of absinthe, Al Capone, and William Barnacle Tavern provide a glimpse into a captivating era in Chicago’s history and the fascinating connection between food, drink, and the human experience.


So, whether you embark on a gastronomic adventure in a far-flung location or simply savor the flavors of a new cuisine at home, embrace the joy of food travel and let it take you on a delicious journey of discovery.