From 1920 to 1933, it was illegal to produce, sell, or transport alcohol. Ironically, it wasn’t illegal to drink alcohol! During this dry spell, speakeasies popped up to serve and sell this illicit liquid. They were called “speakeasies” because bartenders required customers to “speak easy,” aka “quietly,” when ordering an illegal cocktail so as not to draw attention.
You often needed to know the password to get into these undercover bars, and this could be a secret knock, phrase, or hand gesture. Only then could you enter the speakeasy jazz club.
If you are hosting a Jazz Dinner as a fundraiser, a fantastic way to kick off the mood of the evening is to have guests provide a password right at the door. The password could be printed on the tickets or written on a sign before you reach the ticket taker. This way, guests experience the exclusive atmosphere straightaway.
Names for Your Jazz Dinner Speakeasy
There are a few ways you can go about naming your speakeasy. Famous names from the 1920s included naming your illicit bar after 1920s slang, and this could consist of titles such as:
The Bee’s Knees Bliss
The Giggle Juice Joint
The Glad Rags Roost
Another option is to name your gin joint after a famous 1920s outlaw. Some options are:
The Bonnie and Clyde Club
Pretty Boy Floyd Bar
Many of the “blind tigers” (a nickname for illegal bars) also owed their namesake to cocktails. Some ideas might be:
The Sidecar Hustle
The Gin Fizz
The Clover Club
And finally, a good name might come from an inside joke from your high school or a unique local feature.
The [Local Mascot] Hideout
[Name of Principal or Band Director]’s Lair
The [Name of Famous Local Food] Club
Are you looking for more ideas? This website has a magnificent list of speakeasy names.
Passwords for Your Jazz Dinner Speakeasy
Speakeasy passwords were guarded religiously and known only to regular visitors. The passwords were shared by word of mouth and were often ridiculous phrases so that they would be hard to guess. Here are some ideas:
Going to Church
Stumbling Foxes Never Sleep
Jerry Sent Me
New England Clam Chowder
Sugar Moon Tonight
Coming up with your original password is as easy as pie. Again, the phrase could be an inside joke or something particular to your school or church. Have fun with it, but don’t make it anything a guest would be uncomfortable saying.
Extra Credit Additions for Your Speakeasy
Because speakeasies were illegal, you couldn’t very well order a pallet of gin to be delivered. Owners had to find creative ways to transport and store their liquor. Some used false books to hide bottles, while others used coconut shells. Garden hoses were filled with alcohol and plugged; some shady characters even used prams to push booze from place to place.
If you want to get creative about how drinks are served to tables, you could have hollowed-out books to serve water bottles or use a stroller to bring pitchers of drinks. It all adds to the atmosphere and enjoyment of your guests, and these touches bring patrons back year after year.