1796 | Moses Cleaveland arrives on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Promptly asks where the closest bar is.
1800 | David and Gilman Bryant operate a secondhand distillery producing "two quarts of raw spirits a day." So, they were basically making enough for the average Clevelander.
1831 | A distillery operates on a sliver of land near the Flats giving the area its name, which still stands today: Whiskey Island (or "that place you get drunk and play volleyball.")
1840 | While the brewery market explodes in Cleveland, only two distilleries operate, producing just 80,000 gallons a year, or just barely enough to make it through December alone.
1860 | Total distilleries in Cleveland: 5. Total breweries: somewhere near 150, given historical estimates. Total sober Clevelanders: 0.
1910 | Cleveland produces $5,124,478 worth of malt liquor a year. Not distillery-related, but let it be known the CLE was on the malt liquor train from the start.
Jan. 20, 1920 | Prohibition. Boo. Everyone shuts up shop (well, officially, anyway), and Cleveland's (legal) liquor business disappears.
Jan. 21, 1920 | Countless illegal speakeasies open their doors. You can't keep a good drinker down.
1933 | Prohibition ends. Clevelanders call off for the following 27 days of work.
1934 | Eliot Ness arrives in Cleveland. Wikipedia tells us this is important because one day there will be a beer named after him.
1934 | The birth of Paramount Distillery, which, for many years, was the only operating distillery in the city (it only bottles its product in Cleveland now, distilling elsewhere). Makers of cordials and most of the bottom-shelf well liquors you find in drug stores and in dive bars, Paramount really screwed up by not making its headquarters in Ohio City, it later discovered.
1996 | The Velvet Tango Room quietly opens its super secret doors Duck Island, slinging the best handmade cocktails you'll ever drink with just a few rules of decorum to obey while doing so (no hats, please!) Starts the cocktail trend in Cleveland. Remains as mysterious as always.
2009 | Tom's Foolery begins distilling apple brandy in Chagrin Falls. Quickly expands to ryes and bourbons. All made by one man and a few helpers. It's a delicious miracle we don't want explained.
2012 | Portside Distillery becomes the first distillery in Cleveland since Prohibition. Finally, a rum to drink that doesn't have a cartoonish pirate on the label.
2013 | Cleveland Whiskey debuts, utilizing a high-tech process of aging whiskey in days and weeks, not years. All the better for us—we don't like waiting for our hooch.
2014 | You read this timeline and quickly pull out your phone to find the nearest bar.
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