As you may have already guessed from the SHOT Blog, we are all about the New Roaring 20s! We have FOUR new 20s mysteries that will be released between now and December 2020. This means you have lots of chances to set up your house or venue as a Speakeasy.

SHOT Creative Director, Leigh, sat down with Speakcheasy Co-owner Bekki to get the inside scoop on setting up your space in grand speakeasy fashion. Listen to their whole conversation here.

The Speakcheasy is a 1920s prohibition lounge with authentic cocktails located in Barrie, Ontario. We use it as our primary location for locally hosted murder mystery events. As a co-owner, Bekki is somewhat an expert on bringing the 1920s era to life. One of their most popular cocktails is the Smoked Old Fashioned. This bourbon-based drink is placed under a glass dome and a ‘smoking gun’ (LOVING that term), burns woodchips and fills the dome with smoke.

Part of the appeal is that you can walk downstairs into a bit of a smokey haze, reminiscent of an old cigar lounge. Picture this; a gangster puffing on a stogie while swirling an amber liquid in a short glass.

Want to get that same 1920s feel? Here are 7 tips for designing your speakeasy:

1. Backdrop

A mural or a backdrop can instantly change the vibe of your space. Exposed brick is a good start. There are faux brick panels you can get at Home Depot. These are almost like cardboard and you stick them up to get a brick wall. Or you can get peel-and-stick wallpaper.

2 .Things on the Walls

The Speakcheasy uses ‘Wanted’ signs and photos of gangsters to give an authentic feel. Old newspaper clippings are also a great option. Al Capone’s rules can easily be printed off and taped up for the evening.

Our favourites

“Confine your flirting to the pro skirts, leave other men’s squeezes alone”
“In the event of a raid by the coppers, drink fast”

You can also take it a step further and give your guests a selfie station or photo booth where they can actually be in a wanted poster or a suspect line-up.

Pictured: Two Smugglers at the Caterpillar Club from
A Gangster Murder at the 1920s Speakeasy

3. Lighting

You want dim lighting that can be found through table lamps or candles. Or Edison bulbs, which are so in you can find them anywhere.

The Speakcheasy used antique stores to find cool, used lamps. Like this Tiffany lamp in their library nook.

4. Music

The easiest way to set the scene is to turn on some music. And it can make or break the party. Electro swing is fun because it marries the 20s sound with an upbeat feeling. You want something like that to make it more lively.

5. Costumes

Dressing up can be so much fun! Bekki has used a rental place to find the long gloves, the boas and the feathers. Other options for costumes are to go to a thrift shop, or put a post out to your social media network.

What’s great about speakeasies is they were all the different socio-economic stations getting together and partying because of prohibition and the war breaking down social barriers. So your costume can be all class with a faux fur stole, or an untappered flapper dress. For men it is a little bit easier. Think pin-striped suits and most definitely a fedora!

Pictured: Tiffany Lamp From Speakcheasy

6. Secret Entrance

If you don’t have a secret entrance (because who does?), do whatever you can to get people inside in an interesting way. You can disguise the door, use a back entrance or provide a password to gain entry. Anything that feels secretive or forbidden.

7. Drinks

Making gin-based cocktails is a given. What you serve them in though, that can be unique. The Speakcheasy recommends tea cups. The premise is that when a raid happened, the patrons appeared to simply be drinking a cup of tea, giving the owners of the establishment the chance to pay off the coppers. So, provide your guests with a signature drink in a mismatched china tea cup, ideally from a local thrift shop. Cheers!

Now that you have a 1920s speakeasy, you may as well throw a murder mystery there! Shop our selection of Flapper and Gangster-themed mysteries by clicking the image below.