The dream of the late aughts is alive in Philadelphia. That’s what the Inky’s food section tells us today with a lengthy feature on our fair city’s rising speakeasy scene. Don’t get us wrong. It’s a well written piece that hits all the right notes. Booze wizards like Franklin Mortgage’s Al Sotack, Emmanuelle’s Phoebe Esmon, and Shake, Stir, Pour author Katie Loeb all get mentions, thus proving the craft cocktail movement here still has legs to stagger on for at least another round or two. But to hang the whole thing on the moth-eaten speakeasy schtick, seems a little like, well, yesterday’s news.
Seriously, this speakeasy thing has already come and gone. Need evidence? We have two words: Ranstead Room. Master of the sincerest form of flattery, Stephen Starr, delivered his dimly-lit and drop-dead sexy, secret cocktail parlor just shy of three years ago. You’ll recall he brought in Professor of Prohibition-era cocktails, Sasha Petraske to fine-tune the drinks program. That, for all intents and purposes, was the movement’s peak. And that came at least a year after trail blazer (in terms of Philly) Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. started shaking up the cocktail scene.
Even more convincing is the fact that the s-word itself prompts Mr. Mysterioso, Hop Sing Laundromat proprietor Lee, to ring us every time we mention it in the same breath as his not-so secret Chinatown lair. Each time he calls, which he’s been doing since before he was serving customers, it’s to assure us that he’s not playing the Baptists and Bootleggers game. He says, he’s simply running bar.
That said, what’s next in hot trends? Korean tacos?