As the back door opened a crack, a tuxedoed man eyed me and said, “What’s the Password?”… “Bees' Knees” I hesitantly whispered, palms sweaty, and only then I was ushered into the Walrus + Carpenter back room “Speakeasy” for a Throwback ThursdayCTbites Invites event on May 8, 2014, of Prohibition cocktails, silent films and the food and music of the Roaring 20’s.
Owner Joe Farrell and GM Adam Roytman were on hand to greet the 30 attendees of this sold out evening, most who chose to follow the Invites suggestion of dressing for the period…every where I looked were Al Capone look-alikes dressed in pinstripe suits and fedoras…Fancy “molls” in fringe dresses, sequined headbands, multiple strands of pearls and fur boas.
The flat screen played silent films; Charlie Chaplin, D.W Griffith, Buster Keaton all appeared behind us, while the piano player tapped out Jazz, Charleston and Blues tunes.
Walrus+Carpenter Mixologist Tom Latterell (nicknamed for the evening, “Tommy Boy“) in suspenders and newsboy cap mixed up and served Prohibition era cocktails like The Southside, a gin, lemon and mint concoction; French 75, a fizzy gin, grapefruit liquor and sparking wine mixture; The Side Car, brandy, orange liqueur and lemon juice; and a Sazerac, a rye and bitters drink that originated in New Orleans in the 1800’s.
A cowhide fedora topped the bar for tips…but hopefully not in the 1920’s amounts.
As the crowd sipped and mingled…snapping pictures and selfies to post to social media (so NOT 1920’s), W+C server, Jessica, decked out in a flapper dress, pearls and a maribou boa circulated with trays of creamy bone marrow and chicken liver mousse with bacon and onions over a crispy toast, and warm and runny cheese balls.
As we took our seats, family style trays of Grilled oyster and ramps Rockefeller and a modern version Waldorf Salad were served to each table of six or eight. The main course, a Prime Rib and Grilled Asparagus came out neatly stacked on huge trays much to the delight of the “gangsters” in the crowd. Side orders of twice-cooked mashed potatoes arrived to further oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another morsel…dessert arrived…”Baby Jesus Cake” a sticky toffee gingerbread-like cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I looked around guiltily as I had greedily finished everything on my plate…and saw that everyone had not only finished their huge Prime Rib, but were happily enjoying the cake as well.
Sipping the last of my French 75 (Walrus+Carpenter recipe below), the lights dim, the music playing, I, for just a moment, felt transported to an era of secrecy, glamour and good times!
RECIPE: French 75 Cocktail
This cocktail originated in 1915 in Paris in what was soon to become Harry’s New York Bar and then became popular at The Stork Club, NYC.
¾ oz Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin
¾ oz Pamplemousse Grapefruit Liqueur
¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2 oz Sparkling Wine, Prosecco or Champagne
Shake with ice Gin, Liqueur, Lemon juice in cocktail shaker and pour into chilled Champagne or Coupe glass and top with the bubbly.
BTW- if you prefer Vodka over Gin it is called a French 76.
Walrus + Carpenter Gastropub
2895 Fairfield Ave Bridgeport, CT 06605
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