Prohibition is alive and well in India today, if not in actual policy then at least in the promise of a dry nation as it was envisioned by its founding father - the Mahatma himself. Alcohol sales are, in principle at least, banned in many parts of the country on the occasion of Gandhi’s birthday. Nationalist legacies are thus selectively recalled to defend the policy in those parts of the country which continue to embrace it, as well as to demand its restoration in states that have long since abandoned it. However, these creative applications of the past are themselves manifestations of a much longer tradition. Prior to 1947, alcoholic drinking was demonized as a British import. As historians have pointed out, teetotalism was enshrined as an intrinsically Indian tradition even as reformers judiciously adapted Western temperance legislation. However, it bears pointing out that these attempts to erect a new national history of abstemiousness did not go unchallenged. Alongside these developments, numerous communities have asserted their right to alcohol on the grounds of culture, religion, and livelihood, all of which - they have stressed - are rooted in the ancient past. If history has always been a prime battlefield for claims-making, the war over alcohol in India has pivoted on the politics of caste and religion as much as over economic concerns. By illuminating the dry law’s past lives, this paper assesses history’s role in informing discourses of Indian prohibition from the late nineteenth century to the present.