With the economic turmoil looming over the American people at present, I’ve supposed for a good while now that alcohol could in fact be a “recession proof” magic-bullet of sorts. Think about it, if times are bad people drink… they may not spend as much money on doing so, but people will drink regardless of the circumstances in order to rid themselves of worry, stress, and other things nagging at their minds and weighting their conscience (sadly, this of course can lead to alcohol abuse with folks who begin to feel more than a mere desire to drink socially).
Conversely, if times are good, money abounds, and jobs flourish, people still drink because now they can certainly afford to do so! Besides, good times and a booming economy call for celebration, right?
In addition to the notion that drinking may be recession-proof activity, another well-maintained theme here at Culture of Spirits is the notion that prohibition is NOT a good thing. However, in observing new trends in bars opening recently around the country, could it actually be that there are elements of prohibition-era America emerging today that are helping create a different kind of atmosphere… and a new kind of clientele… in bars and pubs around the country?
The Washington Post asked its readers today “how many hoops” they might be willing to leap through with regard to what they call a “new pseudo-speakeasy trend”. Essentially, one might think bars and pubs around the country would tend to lean toward wanting to promote their business with signs, posters, and ads; especially during a recession. This, however, may not exactly be the case. In his description of places like The Gibson, a new night-spot in the Washington area, journalist Fritz Hahn elaborates on this concept for us: “These ‘temples of cocktails’ typically have unmarked doors, unlisted phone numbers or no Web site to create a Prohibition-era secrecy that is in keeping with the classic drinks crafted inside.
The Gibson for instance, by use of small, cozy spaces with dim candle-lighting and vintage drinks like the Japanese Cocktail, is able to tap the slinky, sexy appeal of the ’20s and ’30s era speakeasies; something today’s sophisticated alcohol elite find welcoming. But in addition to capturing the vibe, “hush-hush” locations of this sort tend to operate void of any outdoor signs or other promotion to attract customers off the street, much like the bars that actually existed during the prohibition period in this way so as not to be caught serving alcohol illegally.
This method of operation may seem to defy logic, but it is a growing trend, if anything. Heading north to the Big Apple, Mary Spicuzza of the New York Times says “trendier, newer nightspots rebelling from the glowing neon signs that dominate neighborhoods like Times Square believe that the opposite tack has a more subtle appeal — and will attract a more appealing crowd.” So far, there doesn’t appear to be a particular name for this phenomenon; if anything, pub owners may simply hope to attract specific demographics by using little more than word-of-mouth and “invitation only” approach to promote their business, as well their status as “best-kept secrets” in their neighborhoods.
So next time you’re strolling down the street in search of a relaxing spot to enjoy a glass of wine or a classy cocktail, keep in mind that just beyond the barest walls you might least expect to find vintage pleasantries could lie your town’s best-kept secret! Keep your eyes peeled… and your ears open to possibilities.