Indulge in the Illicit Fantasy of Prohibition Era Speakeasies
By Mallory Ambrose | Images Provided By Coury Hospitality
July 22, 2022
The bartender’s abrupt shout of last call of the night echoes a sharp command to the avid late-night barflies in January 1920.
On January 17, 1920, the passage of the Volstead Act enforced the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages nationwide. This proscription heralded an infamous period in American history we all know as the Prohibition Era.
From 1920 to 1933, drinkers went underground to satisfy their vice in illicit hidden booze saloons. Strategically disguised from law enforcement through unsuspecting exteriors, guests could revel in the outlawed enjoyment of alcohol unseen. Those who attended these clandestine locations were asked to “speak easy” by patrons to avoid detection and thus, the notable term “Speakeasy” was born.
Prohibition Era speakeasies have historically boasted a mystifying allure attracting those who seek the thrill. Shrouded in secrecy, these under-the-radar bars foster a magnified feeling of rebellion only found in forbidden experiences. Concealed behind the otherwise ordinary façade of a bakery or bookstore, lies a magnificent escape reminiscent of the Golden Era.
It is often said that history repeats itself, and within the last decade, modern revivals of speakeasies and underground nightclubs have become an ever-growing trend in nightlife venues all over the world, a select few being original speakeasies still in operation today.
IMI Agency’s client, Coury Hospitality, has designed several elusive speakeasy concepts concealed within their luxury hotels. The Magnum Room, Dockum Apothecary and The Paramount Recreation Club deliver unique immersive experiences that allow guests to travel into the forbidden secrets of 1920’s speakeasies.
Magnum Room Speakeasy
– Hotel Vin, Grapevine, Texas
Hidden behind closed doors deep within the boutique Hotel Vin in Grapevine, Texas, one will discover the clandestine location of Magnum Room Speakeasy.
Stealthily make a phone call from the Telephone Booth and enter an intimate ambiance of the covert decadence of the Roaring ‘20s. This Prohibition-Era inspired 18-seat cocktail concept perfectly captures the exclusivity of the quintessential speakeasy.
Inside Magnum Room large chandeliers hang from the ceiling above jewel-toned leather seating in a dimly lit room adorned with elegant candlelight. Rooted in Prohibition-style libations, guests can peruse the seasonally changing specialty cocktail list, as well as a selection of approachable and highly sought-after spirits. Taste the spirit of the 1920’s in every sip of the signature “Magnum Margarita” made with Cincoro Anejo Tequila, Grand Marnier Louis Alexander, fresh lime juice, finished with a 24k gold salt lined rim. If you’re feeling confident, ask for the “Dealer’s Choice” and Magnum Room’s expert bartenders will craft a unique personalized cocktail tailored to a provided list of your favorite flavors and spirits.
Magnum Room is a hidden gem perfect for a sophisticated nightcap to be savored with quiet conversation, a romantic date night, or a fun-filled night of sipping cocktails in secrecy. Visit Hotel Vin’s website at https://www.hotelvin.com/ or find them on social media @hotelvintexas and make a reservation today.
Dockum Apothecary Speakeasy
– Wichita, Kansas
‘A dispensary of craft cocktails, tonics, and beverages’
Discover a place where time slows and discretion and exclusivity reign. Located beneath the Ambassador Hotel in the heart of Wichita, Kansas, guests can travel to a different time and place when they enter Dockum Apothecary. A modern-day speakeasy-style bar and eatery established in 1926, Dockum delivers an immersive experience of secrecy within a hidden den of libations.
Once inside this subterranean lounge, guests are surrounded by soft candlelight and an unforgettable ambiance of mystery and intrigue. Originally built as a Union National Bank, designers worked to preserve the historical architecture of the building transforming the original bank vault into a semi-private room similar to that of an illicit Prohibition-style ‘back-room deals’ chamber.
A list of ‘Doctor’s Orders,’ or rules, provided to all visitors reads:
- Discreet cell phone usage is okay, but please turn off the camera flash
- Shhh! do not disturb other patrons
- Seats at the bar are first come, first served
- Be good to us and we will spoil you
- Our cocktails are labor-intensive, so please have patience
- Music selection is at the will of the rock gods
- Finally, take two and call me in the mornin’
At Dockum, the pharmacist will have the perfect cure for any ailment with an exquisite range of house-made bitters and syrups, freshly squeezed juices, and select small bites. Guests can choose from an array of specialty handcrafted cocktails, local brews, or fine wines.
Several Dockum recommended cocktails include “The Smoking Gun,” made with Tin Cup Whiskey, Brown Sugar Simple Syrup, Blackberry Shrub and Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters smoked in a Dockum Souvenir Bottle. If you are looking for a lighter flavor, try “The Baron of Earl.” This cocktail is crafted with House Barrel-Aged Aviation Gin, Cocchi Americano Vermouth, Blueberry Earl Grey Tincture, fresh lemon juice, and honey simple syrup. If you enjoy sweeter notes, you may fancy the “Dizzy Dame,” crafted with Strawberry-Infused TIL Kansas Vodka, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice.
Visit the Dockum website at https://dockum.com/ or follow them on social media @dockumwichita.
The Paramount Recreation Club
– Barfield Hotel, Amarillo, TX
Founded during the heart of the Prohibition in 1927 by Prohibitionist M.D. Oliver, Paramount Recreation Club is Amarillo’s best unkept secret where guests can rediscover secrets of the past. Located beneath the historic Barfield Hotel, the preservation and revival of Oliver’s original speakeasy room holds a tempting origin of discreet sophistication.
Paying homage to the 1920’s and the progressive life of M.D Oliver, the building was kept as close to what it was in 1926 and marks of her legacy have been integrated into the hotel and speakeasy revival design. Hidden clues, surround the venue providing subtle hints of direction guiding those who seek the clandestine experience of Paramount. Nearly a century later, the original stairway of M.D. Oliver’s speakeasy, now adorned with a Paramount Recreation Club mural, continue to transport guests into that of another time.
Upon entering Paramount Recreation Club, guests are surrounded by decorative reflections of the opulent taste of the 1920’s. Rich wall coverings border the interior full of secret pool tables, poker rooms and the exchanged whispers of carefully guarded passcodes. The private Derringer Room is a hidden full-service lounge-style space for secret meetings and gatherings.
Guests can indulge in classic specialty cocktails and vintage spirits while enjoying flavorful bites from a chef-inspired menu. The intriguing array of PCR’s signature cocktails includes the exclusive ‘Last Word’ Cocktail. This gin-based cocktail was created just as the prohibition began and has since remained a nostalgic staple with an invigorating balance of sweet, sour, and botanical flavors sure to leave all who try it speechless.
Experience the tempting secrecy and whispered history of this elegantly restored Prohibition Era venue. Visit Paramount Recreation Club’s website at https://www.prcamarillo.com/ or follow them on social media @prcamarillo.
While the necessity of speakeasies is no more, the secrecy and entertainment of these intriguing venues remains. The resurgence of these vintage nightlife concepts has amassed international fascination with hidden locations found in cities like London and Amsterdam. Experience the mysterious allure and travel back in time to the illicit Golden Era of the Speakeasy.