Prohibition last Friday stationed an exuberant black-vested jazz combo in its doorway in a bid to lure customers to the new 1920s-themed cocktail den, which recently took over the upper King Street space previously occupied by Mercury Bar. But at least in the early evening, the room beyond the tooting musicians looked relatively staid, raising the question of whether the speakeasy trend is played out.
Probably not, says cocktail writer Jeff Berry. As the world’s foremost expert on tiki history, Berry is a scholar of themed bar culture. According to Berry, the current celebration of illicit watering holes isn’t the drinking nation’s first dalliance with the decade.
“The first Roaring Twenties revival was in the 1960s, when bars and restaurants themed themselves like speakeasies, played Dixieland Jazz, and dressed waiters in shirt garters and straw hats,” Berry says. “They had names like Sneeky Pete’s or Rod’s 1920s Roadhouse. The trend lasted about eight years, with a final shot in the arm when the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby hit movie screens.” Continue reading