Journey Back in Time to a Speakeasy in Tallahassee

Posted On 08/09/2012 02:38:17 by Grapevine_Spotlight

 Journey Back in Time:

A Speakeasy opens in Modern Day Tallahassee

by Tony Miller, Grapevine Staff


Alchemy's "Alchemist" lovingly concocts a signature drink


Historically, when people think of a "Speakeasy" they think of 1920s Prohibition era pubs, hidden away in basements or backrooms in which you needed a secret password to enter.


The term "Speakeasy" actually originated in the 1880s in Pennsylvania. The government (who else?) decided to raise the licensing fee for bars from $50 a year to $500 a year. Most pub owners refused to pay this so they operated illegally.


So not to draw attention to their unlicensed establishments, the patrons were required to "Speak Easy" and not get rowdy.


Of course, when prohibition was implemented (by the government, again) the number of "Speakeasies" increased.


A speakeasy was typically a higher-class establishment with a dress code.


When prohibition ended in 1933, most speakeasies closed down because legal bars were opened. But they forever became part of American history and synonomous with High Class and Exclusivity.


Photo of an actal speakeasy, circa 1920s


A new (legal) version of the Speakeasy has been popping up throughout America, with the same historic feel as the Prohibition era saloons, including one right here in Tallahassee: Alchemy.


The only way in is through a secret entryway at the back of the Midtown Filling Station... and a reservation.


Tallahassee Grapevine was able to get a private tour before they opened by owner, Alex Beltrami and Hunter & Harp's Mark Bauer.


On the side wall of the Midtown Filling Station, behind the pool tables, there is an honest display of an old-time gas pump, part of the ambience of the restaurant... or is it?


To the left of the pump, unknown to unsuspecting guests, is a secret passageway to Alchemy. Mark opened the door and we entered a dimly lit hallway, transporting us back to the 1920s. It actually reminded me of waiting in line for Tower of Terror at Disney World... except with libations awaiting us and not Rod Serling and faulty elevators.

Grapevine Exclusive Peek: Shhh... Don't tell anyone we showed this picture to you.

The "Not So Secret, Anymore"

Entrance to Alchemy inside Midtown Filling Station


The bar itself is hidden behind curtains and before we enter, we have to understand the "Rules" - for instance, no cell phones allowed and gentlemen must remove their hats.


The bar itself holds 55 patrons, hence the reservations. It is not the type of establishment that wants to "pack it out" - if you want that scene, try the local rave.


Alchemy is much classier than that. There are no televisions, no windows, no beer, just signature drinks and a quiet vibe. In fact, if you would like to speak to another party, you have to ask the bartender to introduce you.


Alchemy offers a light menu but the real menu is concocted by the "Alchemists" behind the bar blending choice liquors with the science of a chemist. Some of the signature drinks harken back to the legacy of the original speakeasiesw with names like Prohibition Punch and The Mary Pickford.


My suggestion, don't wait till the last minute to make your reservation. You can reserve your table online by going to Enjoy.


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