Friday night at 7 p.m. is such a cruel time for the Czech Republic to implement its ban on all liquor stronger than 40 proof (so no vodka or Becherovka), but the alternative is worse: officials still haven't stopped methanol-poisoned alcohol from hitting the market. As of Friday, 19 people had died and another 27 were in critical condition after drinking bootleg booze. So the Health Ministry took the emergency step of indefinitely banning all hard alcohol until police could find and stem the source of the tainted supply. But banning booze in order to get rid of bootleg stuff seems a little backward -- doesn't bootlegging come as the result of prohibition, as the United States learned during its failed experiment? Not necessarily in the Czech Republic, The Wall Street Journal's Leos Rousek explains: Home-brew is not uncommon there, and vendors regularly sell it in markets and outdoor kiosks, which is where the methanol-laced stuff first started showing up. "The situation got serious after fake liquor bottles laced with methanol began surfacing at standard stores or even catering establishments which represent a much wider distribution than earlier," Health Ministry spokesman Vlastimil Srsen told Rousek. Health Minister Leos Heger told the Associated Press that "an absolute majority" of people who'd been poisoned bought their bad booze in stores and restaurants, so now nobody's allowed to sell proper cocktails until police are satisfied they eradicated the poison stuff once and for all.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.