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On January 17, 1920, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States went into effect and just like that, the manufacture, transportation, exportation and sale of “intoxicating liquor” within the United States became illegal. However, this was nothing new to the citizens of North Carolina, for whom it had been a no-no since 1908. Yes, North Carolina was one of the first states to enact prohibition and it held on to prohibition for four years after the Federal repeal of prohibition in 1933.

image via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival

image via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival

However, the fact that liquor was illegal did in no way mean that North Carolinians abstained from a tipple every now and then. Prior to the enactment of the 18th Amendment, bootleggers would cross into Virginia or South Carolina in souped up cars to load up on liquor and then sneak back into North Carolina to distribute their ill-gotten gains.

Once prohibition was established country-wide, moonshine distilleries also flourished, bringing alcohol to the notorious speakeasies that popped up along with them. In fact, the director of prohibition enforcement for the eastern counties of North Carolina was once attributed with the statement “we have more illicit distilleries than any other State in the Union; and the number is increasing.”

image via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival

image via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival

Given this illustrious history, it only makes sense that the Asheville Wine and Food Festival has set aside the entire evening of Thursday, August 21, 2014 to celebrate the art of the cocktail and North Carolina Distilleries in the form of a mixology competition.

The event is called Elixir and it features ten elite bartenders concocting fabulous adult beverages made with local Blue Blaze Soda (Asheville), Crude Bitters (Raleigh) and more potent ingredients from various North Carolina distilleries. Crude Bitters will also be on hand at Elixir for attendees to sample their various bitters, including the year round flavors of rosemary-grapefruit-peppercorn, coffee-cocoa and hibiscus-lavender-oak, as well as pineapple-ginger and watermelon-basil shrubs.

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image via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival

As if a night dedicated to beautifully crafted cocktails was not enough, Elixir takes it a step further by embracing the Prohibition culture with a secret knock to get into the hidden venue, inside of which lurks the booze-fest, as well as hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment. So, if you are a lover of fine adult beverages, local craft ingredients, snacks, music and speakeasies, this is the event for you. There’s even a day in between Elixir and the Grand Tasting on Saturday so you can fully recover before visiting all those North Carolina distillery booths that afternoon.

Elixir takes place from 6 – 8 pm on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at a secret location. Tickets are available via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival website.

The grand tasting takes place on Saturday, August 23, 2014 from 2-5 (1-5 VIP) at the U.S. Cellular Center | 87 Haywood St., Asheville, NC. Tickets are available via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival website.

Crude Bitters is located in Raleigh, NC and can be found online at www.crudebitters.com. Their products can currently be ordered online via their website, and the folks of Crude Bitters anticipate the opening of a brick and mortar store in Raleigh this fall.

This post is sponsored by The Asheville Wine and Food Festival, but, as always, all words and opinions are my own.

image via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival

image via the Asheville Wine and Food Festival