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Drinking Required A Paper Bag On The Savoy's Prohibition Night

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  Site Where: Strand, London, United Kingdom, WC2R 0EU
January 19, 2012 at 5:28 PM | by | ()

January 17 1920 might not be one of those dates that’s rammed into your memory, possibly because most people like drinking and prefer to forget the bad times – but anyway, it’s the date that the Prohibition 18th Amendment was ratified.

And while a 92nd anniversary may be an odd one to celebrate, if there’s booze involved, it’s never too odd. So says the Savoy London, which turned its dark ‘n’ sexy Beaufort Bar into a Prohibition speakeasy for the night on Tuesday.

At the door, we were greeted by a lovely lady, Gemma, in a 1920s fascinator over her Savoy uniform. Once we gave her the password (Kaspar, if you please), she swept us past the velvet rope and into a booth paved with 48 karat gold. For realsies.

Instead of the normal menu, we got a gorgeous little Prohibition menu, offering six cocktails, three of which had been invented for Prohibition night, and another off-menu rum-based one that’s currently in the running for a competition to be the face of Bacardi.

The rules of the night: bottles would come in paper bags (our neighbors had champagne delivered like this), champagne would be served in special fluted goblets, and other cocktails would be poured into a tea cup from a proper tea pot. To experience as many set ups as possible (ahem), we tried four.

First up, the Seelbach: whiskey, orange curacao, Peychaud bitters and champagne in a goblet. Despite the girly goblet, it was a stiff, manly drink. A little harsh to begin with, but (wonder why?) it grew on us.

Next, a Ward Eight: whiskey, grenadine, lemon and orange drink, created in 1898 in honour of Boston politician Martin M Lomasney. Friend had this, we tasted, and it was great – sweet but also stiff. Served in a glorious tea cup. Friend chose well.

Then the Volstead: gin, sherry, ruby port, orange and sugar. Again, friend’s choice – served in a paper-bagged bottle – and, again, a good one. Nice and tart but with a sweet kick.

Finally, the Encantador (the Bacardi drink): rum, cherry eau-de-vie, Aperol, lemon juice and sugar. Verdict – not sure how far this one will go in the competition. It had a hint of mouthwash with a twist of Tunes throat lozenge. Awesome presentation, though, in a dainty teacup.

The taste of the drinks was less important than the experience, tbh though. A fantastic idea in a glorious setting with lovely staff and constant refills of olives, macadamia nuts and caramelized almonds. The only downside? There were hardly any people there, and even fewer drinking the Prohibition cocktails. After all the effort they’d put in! So sad. Next year, if they really do a push on telling people about it (instead of just popping it on Facebook and Twitter), it could be fantastic. They could turn it into a fancy dress bash! Amazing.

Here’s to the 93rd anniversary.

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