A Real Speakeasy
The fantastic Ann Lien, F&W's senior copy editor, went to a party so secret for New Year's Eve that she won't even tell me where it was held. Here, she reports:
Nowadays, you can throw an olive and hit yet another new speakeasy-style bar. But on New Year's Eve, I was invited to a true speakeasy in New York City: Both the party and location (behind a half-lowered metal gate) were so secret that guests were forbidden to Tweet or post on Facebook about it by name. Once inside the red-draped den, I was surrounded by people dressed in costumes evoking 1920s Paris/Berlin or 1930s Shanghai and treated to burlesque dancers, fire-breathers, live bands, chorus girls dressed like Marlene Dietrich and aerialists swinging on suspended hoops.
On the bar menu were such Prohibition-era cocktails as the Sidecar, the Old-Fashioned and absinthe (minus the hallucinogenic wormwood). However, there was one drink called Madame Shanghai's Secret Potion that you could only get by hunting down the cigarette girl and slipping her a few bills. Sure enough, after I found her, from beneath her tray she produced a tiny, opaque medicine bottle—small enough to fit in my purse—filled with a rum cocktail. It was delicious.
Though this party’s name can't be revealed, you can throw your own speakeasy gathering by making the same classic cocktails. Try F&W's inspired versions of the Old-Fashioned and even absinthe drinks. The Sidecar can be found in the 2009 F&W Cocktails book, which is still available on foodandwine.com or Amazon. I know I won't be waiting a whole year before I taste these drinks again!