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⚙️ Table Talk #118: A Soft Spot For Blind Pigs 🐖


‘Blind Pig’ was a common nickname for the speakeasy bars born out of the American Prohibition.

Bars which even nowadays, a century later, with no alcohol ban in place, still offer up mystery and thrill in spades.

Today’s Table Talk rolls back the clock, diving into their rich and raucous history, and shining a spotlight on some of the real crackers of today.

The original speakeasies were born in the early 1920’s at the start of the American Prohibition.
More often than not they were disguised, hidden in the basement or back room of a well loved and respected high street shop. In essence, the front of house provided a veneer of respectability that masked an illicit secret beyond.

Here they would serve hooch, moonshine and more, brewed in house or perilously imported. They were mostly underground, dimly lit, and full of curious quirks. Products of the politics of the day, but also the wishes and whims of those who chose to brave a livelihood running one.
Prohibition ended in 1933 and with it speakeasies but that wasn’t, as it turns out, the end of them.

Milk & Honey, New York
Photo Credit: Georgette Moger

The resurgence of speakeasy bars began with the opening of Milk & Honey in New York in 1999. Nightlife had got all glam, and the bar sought to be an antidote, albeit an antidote with exceptional cocktails. 

The bar was a creature unto itself, it had a disguised entrance, waiters in braces, giant ice cubes, craft cocktails - all things that today may feel rite of passage for a destination bar, but then were novel.

The unique set up caught on. Despite alcohol no longer being illegal, the underground aura, the mystery, the quirky rules all appealed to those craving something a little bit… other.

In London today you can discover countless: The Natural Philosopher in the converted storeroom of a Mac repair shop, Cahoots in a train carriage and Reverend JW Simpson all playing tribute to the duality that epitomised these institutions. 

There’s a surface irony to us, an alcohol free wine brand, waxing lyrical about the virtues of a speakeasy, yes. But the reality is that they provided choice and liberty in a time when that was in short supply, and that's something we can get behind.

Cahoots Soho
Photo Credit: Cahoots

Victorians, it turns out, were masters of slang.
Speakeasies had nicknames aplenty, to some they were Juice Joints and other Blind Tigers. The beverages consumed? Why Giggle Juice of course. 

It's been all systems go this last fortnight.
We showcased Eclat, Cuvée, Elan and Vignette  for the first time at London Wine Fair.

We chatted all things start up strife with Will Hall on his 100 Days In podcast.

We packed a pile of orders off the back of this lovely write up in the Arbuturian Father's Day gift guide. 

Until next Wednesday,

Luke x

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