Goldwater’s Firewater

Written by Douglas Towne Category: History Issue: November 2013
Group Free

Prohibition created classy Phoenix speakeasies like the Arizona Biltmore’s Mystery Room – and also rough and tumble gin joints like the Joyland and Palms dance halls near 35th and Van Buren streets, then outside city limits. These notorious “pleasure resorts” were raided by undercover federal agents for “dispensing liquor to young women and getting them debauched,” according to a 1927 Arizona Republican article. Despite such raids, speakeasies continued to proliferate.

Phoenix high society, however, often imbibed in the comfort of their homes, enjoying stockpiled supplies or booze smuggled from Mexico. “When Prohibition became the law of the land, my father bought the bar, the back bar, and the brass foot rail of his favorite saloon and had them installed in the basement of our house,” Barry Goldwater wrote in his 1979 memoir, With No Apologies. “The country went dry, but that bar was always wet.”