When someone mentions the Age of Prohibition, you probably think of the roaring 1920’s, with flappers and men in fedoras whispering code words through doors to gain access to underground speakeasies. While I love The Great Gatsby as much as the next person, a lesser-known fact is that while women played a huge role in bringing about prohibition, they also were key players in repealing the law. One of those catalysts for change, Pauline Sabin (a Chicago native), founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform to combat the law and promote its repeal. Her motivation to repeal came from how she was disturbed by the hypocrisy of prohibition. Nobody was taking the new law seriously, and she was concerned about the moral decline of America with its blatant disregard for this law. Bootleggers and organized crime flourished with the illegal sale of alcohol, and Sabin was worried that children would lose respect for the law after seeing such widespread unconcealed law-breaking.

With the repeal of Prohibition in Chicago in 1933, Herman Berghoff was able to acquire Liquor License No. 1 through his friendship with Oscar Mayer. Since then, we have been serving our delicious Berghoff beer in both our bar and restaurant at our downtown and O’Hare locations.

To celebrate the 83rd anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, we are having a New Beer’s Eve celebration on April 7th (which is coincidentally Jan Berghoff’s – 3rd generation owner’s birthday).  After Prohibition was repealed, Herman Berghoff would offer a free lunch with purchase of a beer, and I am looking forward to throwing it back to such wonderful hospitality. So come visit us all day at the Bar and receive a free corned beef sandwich with your first beer, or stop by our Lower Level Café from 11-2 for an ice cream social – only 5 cents! Our throwback Thursday will have fun photo opportunities, including a visit from our friendly mascot, Herman the German Sausage and more. Cheers!

Corned Beef Sandwich

Yield: Serves 8


  • 5 pounds lean, raw corned beef
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • 4 quarts water, or enough to cover the meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Dijon or Dusseldorf mustard
  • 16 slices rye bread


In a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, place the corned beef, pickling spice, and water. Make certain the water completely covers the meat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then decrease the heat and let the meat simmer, covered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Insert a fork into the meat, and it should pull out easily when done. Remove the meat from the pot and let it cool, reserving the cooking liquid. Refrigerate the meat and liquid until completely cool, 3 to 4 hours.

After the meat is cool, remove the fat and slice the meat with the grain, on a slight angle. Slice about 1/16 inch thick. This should yield eight (5-6-ounce) portions of the meat for each sandwich.

Reheat the cooking liquid to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, and season with salt and pepper. Dip the meat in batches into the liquid, using a heatproof strainer or small colander. Remove and let drain for 1 minute. Make eight sandwiches, distributing the corned beef among eight slices of rye bread with mustard, and topping each with another slice of rye bread. Cut in half to serve.