Speakeasies and the roaring 20s
“I am just a businessman giving the people what they want.
All I do is satisfy a public demand.”
Al Capone on bootlegging illegal liquor and operating
Chicago speakeasies during prohibition (1920-1933)
What are Speakeasies?
Speakeasies were secret venues where illegal alcoholic beverages were sold during the U.S. Prohibition in the 1920s. To gain access to these speakeasies, you had to know the secret password, so that the doorman could distinguish between visitors and federal agents. When ordering a drink at the bar, drinkers were told to “speak easy". They had to act relaxed and not draw attention to themselves.
The Roaring 20s
The roaring 20s, also known as the "Jazz Age", was a decade of prosperity, jazz bands, bootleggers, gangsters, bathtub gin, flappers, cocktails and marathon dancers. Notorious figures of the age include Al Capone, Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin and the legendary F. Scott Fitzgerald, self-proclaimed "Flapper King" and author of The Great Gatsby.
The 1920s was also a decade of exciting social changes and profound cultural conflicts. For many Americans, the growth of cities, the rise of a consumer culture, the upsurge of mass entertainment, and the so-called "revolution in morals and manners."
Cocktails, gin and more gin!
During Prohibition, the drink of choice was gin – so many speakeasies became top secret gin joints! It was also a great heyday for creative cocktails, where the allure of illegal alcohol inspired waves of colourful concoctions, notably the "Bee's Knee", "Mint Julep", "Highball", "Hanky Panky" and a swathe of other gin-infused drinks.