Speakeasy. A word today that’s thrown around quite a bit as a descriptive for a bar with a retro feel but the origins of the term go back to the 1920’s and 30’s when it was illegal to sell alcohol. Back then one would gossip about the “secret bars” in order to find a place to get a drink. And you must “speakeasy” of these places for fear of being caught in a touchy situation.
A bar in Wilmington, North Carolina is bringing the speakeasy back. Recently on a weekend trip to Wilmington we stopped by several restaurants and bars and asked folks where is the most unique bar in the area. Every single person said “Oh definitely The Blind Elephant!” So we used the GPS which led us to an alley…but we saw nothing!
This is the view of the alley. I actually walked down it twice to see if the GPS was wrong. Then after a closer look at the wooden sign hanging above I realized I was in the right place. Roughly painted on the three raw wooden boards loosley placed together was a painting. No words…just a painting of an elephant with a blindfold on.
THIS WAS IT!!!
I called my group and walked up the metal steps to a door that looked like something out of a French prison in the 1700’s. Solid steel with a bolted frame around it and a sliding peep hole that appeared as if there would be a questioning set of eyes on the other side if opened.
We entered and found one of the most unique bars I’ve ever run into.
The interior held exposed brick walls and pipes complete with huge pictures of Al Capone and Andrew Volstead.
Volstead was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who the 18th amendment kicking off prohibition in the U.S. Wikipedia says the Volstead Act is “An Act to prohibit intoxicating beverages, and to regulate the manufacture, production, use, and sale of high-proof spirits for other than beverage purposes, and to ensure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye, and other lawful industries”
The doorman said the prohibition style bar has caught on like wildfire and the mystique surrounding the “word of mouth” and “Best kept secret” mentality is paying off. Not to mention a drink menu loaded with originals that would make a mixologist melt with envy. Bottom line: If you ever get the chance to visit The Blind Elephant…Do it. That is…if you can find it. 🙂