In 1925 there were an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasies in New York City alone. Near the end of the ban on alcohol in 1933 Life photographer Margaret Bourke-White captured some of the city’s elite speakeasies. What an amazing time, to be forced to enjoy to your after work libations underground. It is crazy to think that for 13 years (1920-1933) religious nuts took away America’s booze. I would be scared to see what New York would be like if the liquor was gone.
You see that? That’s “a man’s world” there. Guys out on the town drinking suds and smoking butts in a wood paneled room. Never mind the fact that a few years later our pal Bob (on the left there), probably had a run-in with the old heart disease. At least he has all of those memories of after-work drinking with his good buddy Jack, who seems to be busy chugging that frosty mug. Eventually I bet the fellas loaded into Bob’s 1986 Chrysler station wagon and headed home before their wives got angry.
There is a lot of talk about gentlemen shoppers drinking fine bourbon at Billy Reid. Well, last night at Ned Martel and Jay Carroll’s geniusly merchandised vintage shop / Americana explosion One Trip Pass, the drinking was taken to the next level when a group of grown men decided to shotgun a beer in the store. Video proof below. Do try this at home.
The Stork Club was a famous Manhattan night club that was founded by Oklahoma native and ex-bootlegger Sherman Billingsley (ed. note: amazing name), and operated continuously from 1929-1965. The NYC hot spot — which was located on 53rd Street near Fifth Avenue — was a destination for celebrities, artists, writers and wealthy people in general. You might remember The Stork Club from an appearance in the second season of Mad Men when Don and Betty infamously attended a party hosted by Jimmy Barrett.
While cruising through the LIFE archive, I found a mesmerizing series of images of Mr. Billingsley demonstrating his own brand of nightclub-code via hand gestures. The full set of images are below.
LIFE caption: Closeup of Stork Club owner Sherman Billingsley w. hand on tie, one of his elaborate signals to his nearby assistant which means “No check for this table,” while sitting w. patrons over his usual Coca Cola, in the Cub Room.
I can’t get enough of these Errol Morris Miller High Life commercials.
On a football related note, I can’t decide who I want to lose more today, the Ravens or the Steelers. Probably the Steelers (take that RPH). Either way I will be indulging in the High Life.
Ever wonder how to tell if your favorite bar loves you? Apparently it has something to do with the glass your beer is served in. The blog The Pint Imperial — written by Brooklyn’s Sasha Lamb — is an interesting read and a great resource for anyone keen on proper beer drinking in New York City.
In addition to giving me a robust list of new watering holes, TPI drops some serious pint glass knowledge on ya:
“This glass is special for several reasons. First of all, historically, it is a unit of measurement that harkens back to colonial days, when these units were royally sanctioned to the commonwealth. The King at some point changed it from 16 to 20oz. History plus booze is always good. Secondly, this unit of measure is 20 ounces, whereas an american pint is 16 ounces.”