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The Raines law, authored by John Raines, was passed on March 23, 1896, by the New York State Legislature. It was nominally a liquor tax, but its intention was to curb the consumption of alcohol by imposing regulations.

Among other provisions, it prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday except in hotels. Most men worked a six-day week, and Sunday was the only full day for drinking at saloons. Under the law, however, hotels were allowed to serve liquor on Sunday, to guests only, if it was served during a meal or in the bedrooms of the hotel.[1] State statutes allowed that any business was considered a hotel if it had 10 rooms for lodging and served sandwiches with its liquor. Saloons quickly found a loophole by adding small furnished bedrooms and applying for a hotel license. Dozens of "Raines law hotels," often located directly above saloons,[2] opened.

As a contemporary source put it, "This offered a premium on the transformation of saloons into hotels with bedrooms and led to unlooked-for evils"[3] (an increase in prostitution), as the rooms in many "Raines law hotels" were used mostly by prostitutes and unmarried couples. (In some cases these rooms may not even have been available at all; in a 1917 novel, the protagonist sees "a Raines Law hotel with awnings, indicating that it was not merely a blind to give a saloon a hotel license but was actually open for business."[4])

Jacob Riis wrote in 1902 of saloon keepers who mocked the law by setting out "brick sandwiches," two pieces of bread with a brick in between, thus fulfilling the legal requirement of serving food. He also writes of altercation in a saloon where a customer attempted to eat a sandwich that the bartender had served just for show; "the police restored the sandwich to the bartender and made no arrests."[5]

Such a shabby bar serves as the 1912 setting of the classic play The Iceman Cometh, by Eugene O'Neill.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Reprising Our Niederstein’s Story, Now That It Is A Thing Of The Past". The Times Newsweekly (Ridgewood, NY). 2005-02-10. Archived from the original on 2006-06-25. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  2. ^ Richardson, Dorothy (1905). The Long Day: The Story of a New York Working Girl. The Century Company. , p. 33, "I made my first inventory of that block of Fourteenth Street where I lived. On each corner stood a gaudy saloon, surmounted by a Raines law hotel."
  3. ^ Smith, Ray Burdick (1922). Political and Governmental History of the State of New York. Syracuse Press. p. 25
  4. ^ Phillip, David Graham (1917). Susan Lenox: Her Fall And Rise. New York: D. Appleton And Co. , Project Gutenberg eText #450
  5. ^ Riis, Jacob A. (1902). The Battle with the Slum. Macmillan. , p. 224

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234 news items

New York Times

New York Times
Mon, 08 Feb 2016 09:48:45 -0800

The Raines Law Room, a well-upholstered, low-lit underground speakeasy in the Flatiron district, seems engineered for intimacy. Cushioned alcoves can be shielded from prying eyes by floor-to-ceiling curtains. Call buttons, a common fixture in taverns a ...
 
Daily News
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 13:11:18 -0800

Raines Law Room. This Flatiron speakeasy requires entry by doorbell, and its private, curtained tables have wall buzzers that call for waiter service exactly when you need it. The drinks are unforgettable. 16. Weather Up. The minimally marked white ...

Forbes

Forbes
Tue, 02 Feb 2016 06:15:00 -0800

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today, which, according to tradition, means it's not too early to start thinking about spring cocktails. (And even if things went the other way, it never hurts to plan ahead while daydreaming of coat-free days ...

Hypable

Hypable
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 07:56:15 -0800

... during Prohibition (well, an alternative Prohibition where magic is prohibited, but still), and some of the things I miss most about living in New York are two speakeasies near our old apartment (in case you're wondering: Raines Law Room and ...

Toronto Star

Toronto Star
Sun, 31 Jan 2016 20:52:30 -0800

There's swinging jazz music, old fashions, lampshades and leather armchairs at the Raines Law Room. The only thing missing is Lucky Luciano. Bring your wallet, though: It's $15 (U.S.) for most cocktails — but they're potent. Oh, don't forget to ring ...
 
Gothamist
Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:05:53 -0700

Dimly lit cocktail den Raines Law Room expands their speakeasy-style offerings today, opening their second location inside The William hotel on East 39th Street. The Victorian living room motif continues at the new space, which boasts two rooms for ...

Village Voice

Village Voice
Fri, 03 Oct 2014 09:07:30 -0700

Before the 18th Amendment was ratified, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the United States, other measures limited where alcohol could be consumed, including the Raines Law, which stipulated that boozing be confined to hotels. Nearly ...

Village Voice

Village Voice
Fri, 14 Mar 2014 08:02:52 -0700

In this interview, Raines Law Room (48 West 17th Street) head bartender Meaghan Dorman chats about her fondness for rich flavor profiles, Champagne cocktails, and Campari. How do you handle dealer's choice requests? There are a lot of different ...
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