SHHH, say nothing of the speakeasy.

Shake your tail feather and twiddle your tassels. Make it a night to remember. The 1920s were a time of loosening morals, soaring stocks and bootleg barons. Giddy glamour, opulence and exuberance are the order of the day, when footloose flappers danced the night away.

In order to elude the beady eye of the law, cocktails were quaffed from tea cups, and menus hidden within the pages of seemingly ordinary books.

The 1920s provides a fabulous theme for a glamorous party and here’s how to do it...

Set the scene

To create the intimate setting of a salubrious speakeasy, cover furniture and 21st century items in dark velvet, faux fur and luxurious fabrics.

Subdue the lighting using small table lamps and (fake) candles in old liquor bottles.

Gather small tables to sit around and play silent black and white movies on the TV.

If it is at home fill your bath with ice and store your drinks in it for instant ‘bathtub gin’.

Hide cocktail menus inside old books and serve all your drinks in crystal glasses and tea cups. Silver and glass platters should be used for canapes, and dress bartenders in uniform.

Plan the arrival

To begin, the entrance to your venue needs to be subtle. Use a side entrance or a flag to show where the party is, but the most important part of arrival is a secret code to gain entry.

Often guests would arrive with a book so if the authorities turned up they could pretend it was a book club. Don’t forget to add any secret entry codes to the invitations – which should be black and white art deco, with instructions for the dress code.

Food and drinks

Most of today’s cocktails were invented in the 1920’s, mixed to hide the awful taste of bathtub gin and moonshine, so anything goes. Preferable are those with raunchy names like ‘between the sheets’. The important thing is to serve them in secret – you could be raided at any time.

Canapes are the perfect party food for an evening speakeasy, as most people will have had dinner before they come. How about bagels for later to soak up the moonshine?


The 1920s saw the height of New Orleans and Chicago styles of jazz, sandwiched between the Dixieland sound of the 1900s and the swing era of the 1930s.

Fill your playlist with pianist and bandleader Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, pianist Earl Hines, pianist James P. Johnson, and saxophonist-clarinetist Sidney Bechet.

If you have the budget, the sound of a live upbeat jazz band will add a wonderful energy to your evening. A pianist, with a singing Sheba, is also rather swanky.

Dress to impress

The 1920s was a significant period of change for women, in fashion and role. They drank, smoked danced and voted.

Think glamorous beauty, sequins and tassels, heavy make-up, feather boas and pearls.

Some speakeasies were used as homes and offices by gangsters, who adopted an extravagant lifestyle.

Successful gangsters could be identified by their fashionable silk suits, expensive jewellery and guns, hidden in violin cases.


Why, the Charleston of course darling.

For a speakeasy party, complete with tea cups, props, canapes and waitressing, contact Room Forty Afternoon Teas on 357940, visit or email