This week, as America celebrates the 77th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, H&H thought it would be fitting to play our part in the festivities. For all you history buffs out there, it was illegal to brew or imbibe the hooch within the States from 1920 through December 5, 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt wizened up and knocked that garbage out with the 21st Amendment. Long story short, the Pinkerton’s said Americans couldn’t drink… so, Americans drank behind closed doors in Speakeasies.
Speakeasies no longer became necessary in ‘33 with lucky number 21… but they have made a return. Ironically enough, these faux-Prohibition-Era bars profit from being secretive, housing behind-the-bookcase bars, and keeping all but the password yielding public out, but they are featured in every male interest magazine printed in the last 24 months.
Initially springing from the hipster geniuses in San Francisco and New York, they have now found their way into the dark, lantern lit alleys of nearly every metropolitan block of America and all share universal conventions. Don’t look for a sign. There usually isn’t one. The secret entrance is probably in the phone booth (NY’s PDT), through a side entrance labeled “liquids” (Philly’s Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.), or hidden behind the the wall when you pull George Washington’s bronze bust. We can all get a big-roaring 20’s kick out of the retro rules such as “No roughhousing, horseplay, tomfoolery, or hijinks” that are enforced by the same waxed moustached, vested and sleeve garter wearing bartenders nation-wide. These faux-Speakeasies may look, smell, and operate in the same fashion as their pre-1930 brethren, accept for one key fact. Real Speakeasies didn’t show up in Esquire’s Top 10 lists and were operated by real, authentic, thugs like Al-Capone who would gladly serve your Manhattan with a chaser of pistol whip if you broke their rules.
Although it may appear that H&H is out to bust these illicit watering holes, we actually intend to celebrate what we view as the most important attribute shared by all. Today’s Speakeasy lookalikes all create carefully sourced and crafted cocktails that make the Stoli and Soda served at more traditional bars look like bathtub gin. This handcrafted hooch will knock your wallet out as fast as your inhibitions, but they and the bars that they are served at should be sampled at least once by all.
So as we celebrate the 77th Anniversary of Prohibition’s fall, Drink Better at a bar that pretends to still be in the heat of the dry era. Just don’t tell anyone.