American law enforcement fuels itself on one simple fact: Make something illegal, and people will crave it. Works every time. (Certainly more trees have been killed by bureaucratic documents than citizens by behavior that found itself outlawed.) An early example of active pursuit of our rapidly dying tradition of life, liberty, and happiness, can be found in the history of San Francisco’s Sir Francis Drake Hotel—home of the Prohibition Room. This secret space (not found in the original 1928 blueprints), “Up the stairs, left at the red Beefeater statue and just above the elevator lobby,” provided a cure for the noxious Noble Experiment. Rhys Alvarado, writing for sfexaminer.com, advises today’s curious seekers to hit the Drake at a slow hour, and politely request an off-the-books nickel tour from front office supervisor Weidrwon Lin. If you’re lucky, he might show you the secret room. “The hotel was built around [it]; this place was a bootleg hotel,” Lin said. “Word around town was that if you stayed at the Drake, you’d receive a bottle of booze when you checked in.”
The hotel's first owners had a system that ensured John Law's big mitts would touch neither bottle nor indulgent guest. Canadian bootleggers off-loaded boatfuls of whiskey to San Mateo's Moss Distillery (a speakeasy frequented by Dashiell Hammett). After that, the booze was concealed in luggage and motored into the Drake's underground garage. A single elevator with secret-room access sent up the hooch, which was stored directly above the elevator lobby. A bellman used peepholes in the floor to watch for police, and would deliver through servidor doors—allowing guests to snag bottles without involving any attendant. "The bellman never directly gave the booze to the guest—and that was what made their system flawless," Lin said. "After multiple raids, officers couldn't tell if the hotel was distributing the booze or the guests were bringing it in."