Winston Churchill Got a Prescription for Alcohol During Prohibition

© H. F. Davis / Getty Images

By Justine Sterling Posted April 12, 2016

The Prime Minister stumbled upon a Prohibition loophole.

Winston Churchill loved his booze. He drank Champagne at every meal, Scotch all day long and brandy in the evening. He once asserted that “hot baths, cold Champagne, new peas and old brandy” were the four most important things in life. And biographer William Manchester wrote in The Last Lion that there was “always some alcohol in his bloodstream.” So just imagine was it must have been like for Churchill to visit New York in 1931, during Prohibition. Lucky for him, he made a common U.K. tourist mistake and looked the wrong way when stepping out of a cab—and was promptly hit by a car.

While that may not seem like the most fortuitous of accidents, it led to Churchill being able to legally drink in the U.S. Boing Boing recently surfaced a very old letter from Dr. Otto Pickhardt dated January 26, 1932. In it, the doctor writes:


This is to certify that this post-accident convalescence of the Hon. Winston S. Churchill necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits especially at meal times. The quantity is naturally indefinite but the minimum requirements would be 250 cubic centimeters.


To put that in standard fluid measurements, that’s about eight-and-a-half ounces or almost six shots. If that doesn’t dull the pain, we’re not sure what will.

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