Host the party everyone will remember!
Set the scene
To create the intimate setting of a salubrious speakeasy, cover furniture and 21st Century items in dark velvet, faux fur and luxurious fabrics. Subdue the lighting using small table lamps and (fake) candles in old liquour bottles. Gather small tables to sit around and play silent black and white movies on the TV.
If it is at home fill your bath with ice and store your drinks in it – instant ‘bathtub gin’.
Hide cocktail menus inside old books and serve all your drinks in crystal glasses and tea cups. Silver and glass platters should be used for canapes, and dress bartenders in uniform.
Plan the arrival
To begin, the entrance to your venue needs to be subtle. Use a side entrance or a flag to show where the party is. A gruff bouncer on the door would add authenticity, but the most important part of arrival is a secret code to gain entry. Often guests would arrive with a book so if the authorities turned up they could pretend it was a book club with their tea cups!
Don’t forget to add any secret entry codes to the invitations – which should be black and white art deco, with instructions for the dress code too.
Food and drinks
Most of today’s cocktails were invented in the 1920’s, mixed to hide the awful taste of bathtub gin and moonshine, so anything goes. Preferable are those with raunchy names like between the sheets!
The important thing is to serve them in secret – you could be raided at any time. Fill those teapots and vases with ice!
Canapes are the perfect party food for an evening speakeasy, as most people will have had dinner before they come. How about bagels for later to soak up the moonshine!
The 1920s saw the height of New Orleans and Chicago styles of jazz, sandwiched between the Dixieland sound of the 1900s and the Swing era of the 1930s. Fill your playlist with authentic 1920’s sounds: pianist and bandleader Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, pianist Earl Hines, pianist James P. Johnson, and saxophonist-clarinetist Sidney Bechet.
If you have the budget, the sound of a live upbeat jazz band will add a wonderful energy to your evening! A pianist, with a singing Sheba, is also rather swanky.
Dress to impress
The 1920’s was a significant period of change for women, in fashion and role. They drank, smoked danced and voted. Think glamourous beauty, sequins and tassels, heavy makeup, feather boas and pearls.
Some speakeasies were used as homes and offices by gangsters, who adopted an extravagant lifestyle. Successful gangsters could be identified by their fashionable silk suits, expensive jewellery, and guns, hidden in violin cases! Men – you can’t put on any old ragsthink Jay Gatsby in Tuxedo’s and spats, or baggy trousers and braces.
Why, the Charleston of course Darling!
For tea cups, props, canapes and waitressing for your speakeasy party contact Room Forty Afternoon Teas on 01925 357940 www.roomforty.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
The history, in a very little nutshell.
In January 1920 the US government banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Driving production and consumption underground, and giving rise to gangsters such as the notorious Al Capone. The problem was, America’s boundaries are so big and gangsters so powerful, that their success in out manoeuvring the few prohibition enforcement officers became notorious.
In 1929 the government realised that prohibition was not working and in 1933 Congress repealed the law in the 21st Amendment.