The world of speakeasies is a world of secrets, deceptive looks and surprises for those in the know. The first secret is… what on earth is a speakeasy?!
We have to travel back in time, to 17 January 1920. This is the day when the United States banned all sales of alcohol – and the country went “dry”. High rates of alcoholism, combined with a powerful moral crusade, eventually pushed the US government into giving in. Although Prohibition was a boost to national healthcare, it also meant that Americans could not indulge in small pleasures of life such as a cold beer in summer or an elegant cocktail after a long day at work. But where there’s a will, there’s a way…
Drinking was not going to disappear overnight, and soon certain establishments popped up to fill the gap left by all those bars that shut down. These hidden watering holes made secrecy their flag, and they promised good fun and rivers of alcohol for those lucky (and determinate) enough to find them. Operating in complete illegality, these new bars relied on a delicate balance between the word-of-mouth “marketing” needed to bring in customers, and the mutual understanding that nobody should talk loudly and openly about their existence. “Speak easy, man…” Access was often granted only if the visitor whispered the right code word.
Speakeasies played stage to thrilling stories and rambunctious adventures until 1933, when Prohibition was repealed by the government – and official drinking establishments came back to the limelight. During those years, a great number of classic cocktails were created, initially to masquerade the low purity of the bootleg liquors necessarily used as base. Speakeasy bars, even after disappearing, lingered in the memory of people around the world – also due to them being a darling of the cinema industry, thanks to their unique ambiance.
Fast forward to the 21st century, when speakeasies are witnessing a huge revival. And this time, it’s definitely not just an American thing. The craze for exclusive, dimly lit drinking dens is spreading through Europe, and it’s coming somewhere near you!
This summer, Vienna House extends the concept of a speakeasy to a world of unique experiences – with the hotel as a starting base. By choosing this rate, guests gain access to a code word, which in turn unlocks exclusive drinks, services and much more – both in-house and through the best partners in town. All with a 25% discount on accommodat