In the spirit at a modern-day speakeasy
TAMPA, Fl. - On December 5, 1933, National Prohibition ended in America. Some would deem that worthy of a toast.
It’s definitely a little easier to order a drink these days. But there’s still a nostalgia attached to a time when indulging in spirits required more covert operations. People took their chances by bootlegging, or going to ‘speakeasys,’ which were illegal drinking establishments .
Fastforward to 2012, where the old-fashioned speakeasy, or at least the spirit of it, still thrives.
A night at Ciro’s Supper Club in South Tampa will take you back about 80 years. The club requires not only a reservation, but an agreed upon password to get in the door. Once inside, you’ll find 1920’s era music, dim lighting, and private booths.
While it does have a feel of the Prohibition era, it is decidedly different in some ways.
“Back in the 20’s, speakeasy’s were pretty awful places,” said Beverage Manager Bob Wagner. “They were generally in a basement with no lights, no windows, really hiding from the cops.”
This modern day speakeasy has more creature comforts than the old days. Ciro’s features a full, upscale dinner and appetizer menu. But the drinks, of course, are the big draw.
“We feature cocktails that are ‘100 year old-plus’ recipes. We try not to mess with perfection,” said Wagner.
Among the most popular, the “Russian Spring Punch,” featuring Vodka, lemon juice, champagne, sweet liqueur, and finished with berries. Then there’s the ‘old-fashioned, old-fashioned,’ which dates back to 1804. Rumor has it, this one’s pretty strong.
Aspiring barkeeps who want to turn their home into a speakeasy, at least for a good party now and again, can take a tip from the pros:
- Fresh ingredients are key.
- Go seasonal with the drinks -- oranges are being picked now, strawberries in the spring, and apples in the fall. In the Summer, go with lemons and limes.
- High quality ingredients are said to keep hang-overs away as well.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.