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  • Writer's picturealexispjordan

Three New Fashioned Speakeasies to Sneak to this Summer

"Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation - what are they? They are the happiest people in the world..." - William Lyon Phelps

Speakeasies have been a staple in adult beverage offerings since before the Prohibition in 1920. Bootleggers would provide cocktails to fearless patrons with the understanding that these locations could not be discussed openly and publicly due to their “criminal” nature. It is wild to think that something we drink on the regular and use to celebrate or rest and recharge was at one point prohibited by law. While their purpose has shifted from solely providing alcohol to those during times when it was illegal to now being an experience in a retro-style bar, speakeasies are still created with an intention of exclusivity and privacy, with many still requiring passwords upon entry.

I went to three speakeasy-esque restaurants that provided just that, an exclusive and unique experience worth talking about. These new fashioned, Prohibition-inspired bars each provided their own eclectic style, and are coming highly recommended.

Franklin Mortgage Investment Company

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is a venue I’ve wanted to try for years. In true speakeasy fashion, walking the 18th block between Sansom & Chestnut, we almost missed this tucked away gem. Located next to Byblos, this hidden in plain sight, gated location starts the secret, speakeasy theme immediately.

We went on one of our last days out prior to the many restaurants closing due to the pandemic, and while we did not require a password for this visit, be cognizant of where you’re heading; remember that speakeasies are known for requiring a password to only keep a specific crowd as their recurring customer. We headed to the basement of this hideaway and were welcomed with a very dark but warm vibe with tufted leather booths, dark lighting, and candles to create an entire mood. The muted decor was intimate, mature, and felt v. exclusive. It was the perfect environment to enjoy cocktails and conversation.

Speaking of cocktails, the drinks were phenomenal , like, what…am…I…drinking, good! Each curated drink told its’ own story and had a different flavor profile from the next. The amazing part of going with a group of cocktail connoisseurs is that each is willing to be adventurous in their tasting, and willing to pour a little for each other while pouring into each other in this tucked away safe space.

Old Fashioned - This was smooth, surprisingly smooth, personally as a not-fan of Knob Creek rye, this was bomb, with a hint of sweetness from the orange twist.

Jacuzzi Rollercoaster - This vacation-esque sweet treat reminded me of a tangy long island, but super strong, and you could (definitely!) taste the ginger, this was a win for me.

Struggle for Pleasure - Like an adultish mango-lassi, all of your Indian cuisine drink dreams with a little spirits can be made here, this was lovely.

Whiskey Sour - This super authentic cocktail was delicious, sweet, sour, and the egg white foam was fantastic.

There weren't many dining options, however there were a few bar snacks to keep you covered. The charcuterie was a feasible portion for one, and featured familiar meats and cheeses including salami, pepperoni, and smoked gouda. If you are a beginner to your charcuterie journey, this would be a great introduction, however, with the infamous Di Bruno Bros. across the street, you can really get your cheese on by seeing the pros while you are in the city.

The staff were super friendly, it helped that the birthday girl with us (my baby godsister) was also a bartender, so they really gave us the hookup. Between excellent service, engaging insight, and samples of their secret menu items, we had a truly amazing time, which flew in our hidden oasis away from the realities of outside. I would highly recommend visiting again once you can enjoy the full experience. Hopefully, this mustache will be there when you go.

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is currently open for curb-side cocktail pickup with servings from 2 to 18, something I am practically praying will stay after Covid, and if you go, I highly recommend getting a few for home, lighting some candles, and enjoying a private speakeasy experience in.

Torbert Street Social

Torbert Street Social is another speakeasy-esque spot, with this year-old, unique dining experience in the heart of Wilmington and has easily become one of my faves. The decor is completely curated in speakeasy fashion, with dim lights, chandeliers, candles, exposed brick and plenty of vintage books and photos. It is a MEWD! I love that it’s a speakeasy with a summer section; The indoor/outdoor open concept is super inviting, with the patio perfect for whatever weather thanks to their outdoor fire pit.

Of course we first eat with our eyes, but even without the atmosphere, the food is fantastic (seriously, you have GOT to try the duck wings!). With a wide selection of options including lobster deviled eggs, candied bacon brussels sprouts, marinated olives, one of my favorites being the beef tenderloin sliders, there are choices for everyone.

The drinks - bomb ! And often punny! Between the LL Mule J, a play on a Moscow mule including blood orange and kombucha, the Bossa Nova which was the “juiciest” banana drink I’ve ever come to taste, and the Butterfly Me to the Moon (I enjoy these so much I haven’t even gotten a picture to feature in my many visits, you’ll have to try it to see for yourself, but it is a beauty!), their cocktail menu is a must try.

The most engaging part is their cocktails with a show. The Torbert Collins comes with a table side lit sprig of rosemary. Ask the bartenders for their recommendations on the wood flame-infused drinks, I’ve had an insanely tasty Espresso Martini worth bragging about, courtesy of Stephania, with the video of this demonstration included in my Speakeasy highlights on my insta. This was by far my favorite drink here, I’m telling you, you have to try this.

The staff is fun too. They have the traditional 1920’s flapper era outfits on with the suspenders and it completes the entire vibe. They are all equipped with an upbeat personality, I appreciated the energy they gave in executing a memorable visit. Every time I make my way there, I’m reminded of why I always come back. Put this on your list.

Louie Louie

If you’re not into the spooky and intimate speakeasy scene, Louie Louie is perfect for a quick travel to the last roaring twenty’s. Not a speakeasy , but it has the 1920' flapper era vibe zown. Amazing, amazing, amazing. Personally, this has become one of my favorite places without a doubt.

The decor alone is literally everything. Everywhere you turned there was a different design to fit a different theme within the 1920’s era. White leather couches, green velvet booths, an all pink wall, then a muted white tile to mimic an exposed brick against the chevron-esque seating, it is such an adorable and eclectic spot. The entire floor had different areas for sitting with one of their many, creative cocktails, whether by a floor to ceiling window, by the warm and inviting fireplace, or tucked away in its own secluded corner, even their bathroom and the small waiting area outside of it was a lewk. It is cute! Once we finally got over our initial shock at how amazing of an experience we were having we realized there was music fitting to the atmosphere.

We started with drinks as we waiting for our brunch. I could come here for drinks after work with some girlfriends alone, it is such a vibe.

The Pear Necessities was like an ice tea with a kick, imagine a limoncello and pear tea, whew! It was so refreshing, like it was made for the summertime. The Blood Orange Lemonade was so tasty on its own , and to add rum was thee perfect addition (I love that they have non-alcoholic beverages that you can opt to add your choice of liquor), it was sweet but tangy, and not overpowering.

Pineapple , cranberry and grapefruit juices were the accompaniments with the $18 bottomless mimosas. Our drinks were so potent we didn’t even explore this option, but we will be back and ready to try next time.

The food was nothing to stay quiet about either. The lobster bisque was such a delight. Creamy, velvety, a tid bit sweet like a sun-dried tomato sweet (my fave). But the presentation though, like what ?! How , what...I cannot ! They literally pulled out a stainless steel carafe to elegantly pour the soup into the dish. I love a good presentation, and every single moment was a show on its’ own.

These brown sugar bacon wrapped dates were a pleasant surprise. I usually do mine with prosciutto but I’m going to give bacon another try for my next hosted brunch. The almonds were a fantastic addition and the blue cheese cream sauce was in-cred-ible.

We were recommended to try the doughnuts and I’m so glad we did. These were light and so decadent in their cream sauce, this flavor was unmatched.

And in the spirit of Speakeasy, the chef came out for a “communication issue” and said the food was ready and asked if it was okay to bring it out. He didn’t want to interrupt our appetizers and ended up sitting to talk with us for a moment before letting the kitchen know to bring us the goods. Albert was phenomenal ! Tommy (our waiter) too. Actually, the entire staff, especially for supporting and encouraging us to continue to take pics throughout the entire venue. I had this planned for my birthday dinner and the week of they temporarily shut down as a result of Covid. Every moment spent here had my jaw on the floor. We will be back, and we will continue to talk about it.

Have you been to any speakeasies? Tell me about your experience. I have a few more I’d love to try, brag about your favorite venues in the comments on my insta. Check back in with us for the next article on how I host my own as a date night in at home…

Welcome to the Speakeasy...

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