A few months before the Repeal of Prohibition Amendment, the 21st Amendment, was ratified by Congress on December 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill allowing the manufacturing and sale of 3.2 percent beer. His famous quote after that was, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” With the end of Prohibition, people could drink again. In celebration of that famous day, the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice is hosting Repeal Day festivities starting at 5:00 pm on December 5th. The Del Monte Speakeasy is the perfect place for it, said Louie Ryan, owner of the Townhouse Saloon and the Del Monte Speakeasy. “It’s one of my favorite nights of the year”, said Louie. “Guests dress in the attire, it’s just a lot of fun and you feel like you’re living in the ‘good ol’ days’, in the ’20s like they did”.
Back when their was no Townhouse Saloon and Del Monte Speakeasy, 52 Windward Avenue in Venice was a bar named Menotti’s. Cesar Menotti actually bought the building from Venice pioneer Abbott Kinney and opened the Menotti’s Bar in 1915. When Prohibition banned alcohol in 1920, he changed it to a “grocery”. In the meantime, a set of steps led to an underground bar, where Cesar did a brisk business as a beverage importer. Louie told a story of how they would leave the building, go to the Venice Pier, run out to the waiting ships from Canada and other countries, which waited at the “rhum line”, 3 miles out from shore, then unload the booze and bring it back. The Del Monte Speakeasy served as the underground hub for these rumrummers, a nice hidden place to avoid the “G-Men” and “revenuers” trying to prevent the importation of booze during Prohibition. They had a hard time finding the smugglers, since there were underground tunnels that ran from the Abbott Kinney Pier to the Del Monte Speakeasy. From there, most of the saloon owners in Venice, Santa Monica and part of Los Angeles came to the Del Monte to pick up their shipments.
After Repeal Day, the “grocery” became a well known bar, hosting celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin. These days, the Townhouse Saloon holds a beautiful mahogany bar and an excellent whiskey collection. This is also where the Repeal Day festivities will begin, at 5:00 p.m. Drinks will feature many popular Prohibition favorites. At 6:00 p.m. The Townhouse Saloon will host their complimentary Roast Pig Feast, while the music will start with DJ Mark Maxwell from KPFK playing music until 10:30 p.m. Guests are requested to listen for the bell to ring, an announcement that Prohibition pricing on drinks will be in effect for one hour. Louie said, “The drinks will actually lower back to 1933 prices! We practically give away alcohol, selling it for Prohibition pricing and it’s a lot of fun”. The Roast Pig Feast is a tradition at the Townhouse Saloon according to Louie. “It’s something we started with eight years ago when we took over this fine establishment. It sort of goes along with the rise of illegal liquor, easy food to serve, carve and send out to the celebrating masses”.
At 7 o’clock the fun opens up in the Del Monte Speakeasy. “Richard Foss is a recognized historian and he comes each year and spins stories centered around Prohibition. It’s always a wonderful time! It’s $25.00 to get in when he’s there between seven and eighth-thirty, which includes a flight of two cocktails from the Prohibition era, a free pig roast, and a wonderful story-telling time”, said Louie. Live music of the Roaring ’20s will be provided by Brad Kay and his Ragtime Quartet. “He’s one of my favorites, he’s also a historian and his depth of jazz knowledge is just superb”, finished Louie.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Prohibition without Prohibition cocktails and Louie talked about some of the most popular ones. “Well, the Sazerac arrived before Prohibition and is still a favorite. It originated in New Orleans in the 1800’s. The Old Fashioned is a classic favorite and we do one of the best. The Manhattan of course, it is a terrific drink. They are commonly known drinks, but here in the Townhouse they call out your name, they just do”, Louie said.
The events in both the Townhouse and the Del Monte speakeasy are a very popular way to celebrate the end of one era, the Jazz Age and the beginning of the next. Friday, December 5th, make sure you get out your best ‘flapper’ outfits and pinstripe suits, go on down to the Townhouse Saloon and Del Monte Speakeasy and celebrate one of the most exciting times ever.
Tickets available at repealday.nightout.com
52 Windward Avenue
Venice, CA 90291