What Working At A Speakeasy Is Really Like

If You're Curious About Speakeasies, Here's What Working At One Is Really Like

Working at a speakeasy, you see a lot.


Working at a speakeasy, I have seen a lot more than I first anticipated. From drunken, misbehaving groups of prestigious business people to PDA abusing swinger couples, a night in this type of bar is full of surprises.

Anyone who's seen The Great Gatsby can tell you how exciting, wild and glamorous the environment was for partiers during the early 1900s. Parties typically took place in mansions, boats and little secret bars called speakeasies. From sparkling dresses to impressive cocktails, speakeasies had it all.

A "speakeasy" is a bar during prohibition that was located in a discreet area in order for patrons to enjoy illegal alcoholic beverages without the fear of getting into legal trouble.

The White Rabbit, a new speakeasy in Gilbert, Arizona, is disguised as an apothecary. Above are some medicines and items one might've found in a 1920s facility. Photo by Amanda Marvin

While prohibition ended about 86 years ago on Dec. 5, 1933, we still see speakeasies in the news, on social media and in our communities. So, what's the reason for the popularity of these hidden bars when they are no longer necessary?

Some say it's the adventure of the secrecy of a hidden bar. Others say it's the fun, back-in-time vibe that these businesses have. From my experience, I say it's the illusion that there are no rules once you enter the underground, dark room.

As soon as guests push open the bookcase door and step into the classically decorated bar, their eyes double in size and their mouths drop. Like a kid in a candy shop, I have seen full-grown adults giggle –and even jump- with excitement upon entering the speakeasy.

Hallway in The White Rabbit, a new speakeasy-themed bar in Gilbert, Arizona.Photo by Amanda Marvin

Not only are they dazzled by the secret hallway and beautiful décor of the facility, but they are thrilled to be in such a place historically known for bad behavior and a lawless policy.

As I look around the room at the guests, I notice small details. A young woman with red lipstick in the corner shares top-shelf drinks with a white-haired man. A double date in the VIP room turns into a partner-sharing make-out fest. A loud group of well-dressed people knock over their third wine glass and erupt in laughter. The drunk man near the bar falls over with his seat tumbling on top of him as he struggles to save his beer.

The Little Woody, a speakeasy located in Phoenix, Arizona. The Little Woody / Facebook

The dark ambiance and comfortable seating of a speakeasy bar create feelings of secrecy and freedom, and mixing this with alcohol is a perfect recipe for an interesting experience, especially for those that work there.

"Working at a speakeasy is fun because it gives patrons an experience that can't be replicated at just any bar or restaurant," says Sydney Alberda, hostess at the new speakeasy-themed bar, The White Rabbit in Gilbert, Arizona.

The White Rabbit is known for its classically styled space, artful cocktails and delectable side dishes. It's more upscale than other existing speakeasy bars in the region, and the first of its kind in the developing town.

"The most exciting part about The White Rabbit Bar is introducing the town of Gilbert to our passion for craft cocktails," says Sara Medina, co-owner of the bar.

The chandeliers and low lighting create a classic 1920s vibe. Photo by Amanda Marvin

"We really wanted to capture the experience of a large city cocktail lounge and open it in our hometown. Not only did we want amazing drinks, but also wanted to create an unforgettable environment that would capture the look and feel of a true Prohibition-era lounge," Medina continues.

"There's a theme and an aura in that place that makes people feel differently than when they go to other places," says Sydney, 19.

Even though the events that happen underground are extravagant and unexpected, it's what makes speakeasies worth going to. The experience is guaranteed to be unlike any other.

For more information on The White Rabbit, visit https://www.twr.bar/

Other speakeasies in Phoenix and the surrounding area include:



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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Mixology Is The Alcoholic Art Form We All Need

What if, instead of viewing your cocktail as a drink to get your buzz going, you viewed it as a purposefully orchestrated creation?


You walk into the new bar that everyone is raving about, but nothing seems to strike you as impressive until you take a seat at the garnish speckled countertop. Before you get a chance to scan the happy hour menu, the well-dressed man on the other side of the bar asks you what flavor profile you're looking for. You stutter out an answer, and the man retrieves what seems like 15 different ingredients and begins to measure, shake, stir and pour at an impressive speed.

He produced the best drink you've ever had. You're hooked.

Adding fire to cocktails helps improve the flavor and presentation of the drink. Photo by Amanda Marvin

The skill of crafting alcoholic drinks that was formerly known as bartending is taking on a new form known as mixology among the contemporary bar scene. Mixology is known as "the study of the chemistry of drinks," and the tastes of the new creations are noticeably different from typical drink recipes.

Self-taught Mixologist Tyler Zhorne began his crafting career as a brewer which enabled him to find greater success in the art of experimenting with different flavor profiles. Zhorne says that making drinks is more than just a job that he loves.

"It's kind of another way for you to put your own personality out there. I'm more of an introvert, but my cocktails will help someone understand who I am," Zhorne explains.

Similar to an artist carefully painting their next piece, mixologists use techniques of imagination and innovation to craft a concoction that wows their customers almost every time.

A cocktail smoking box is being used to create another touch of flavor. Photo by Amanda Marvin

In Arizona, bars like Bitter & Twisted located in Downtown Phoenix, The White Rabbit in Gilbert, and The Ostrich in Chandler are changing the original method of bartending by encouraging crafters to create their own reimagined variations of commonly known cocktails.

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