Several years ago a friend turned me on to the speakeasy scene in New York. I found this idea of hidden throwback bars, disguised as other types of businesses charming, if a bit gimmicky. We visited one that was hidden in a Five Guys. You have to travel through the restaurant, past the cooks, and through an unmarked door that I would have guessed led to a basement. Instead, the stairs led up to a spiffy, old-timey cocktail lounge.

Several weeks later I got the silly idea to make a portable bar "disguised" as a lemonade stand. I would put it under an "E-Z Up" shelter and it would be my "SpeakE-Z Up", the pop-up speakeasy. There was a party coming up in two weeks, so I hastily through together a 6 drink, spaced themed menu to compliment the host's "Big Dipper" (dip contest) party theme. Having no bartending experience and limited cocktail knowledge, coupled with the fact that I only had two weeks to prepare, the drinks were just OK, at best. But the experience opened the door to a creative endeaver that I quite enjoy.


My goal is to provide a truly unique and interesting cocktail experience, using ingredients and techniques the average imbiber may not have encountered. Because this is a hobby and not a business, I don't have to focus on cost effective or quick methods. Nearly all of my ingredients are homemade. My fruits & vegetables are freshly juiced, my nuts freshly milked, and my herbs picked right from the plant when I make your drink. Because the menus are planned a year in advance, I am able to explore the long game. That includes things like barrel aged cocktails, clarified milk punch, home made bitters, and growing exotic herbs not readily available at the local nursery. I love to seek out odd or historic liquors that are foreign to many of us. I lean toward high quality booze, and steer clear of flavored vodkas/whiskeys. If I want cucumber flavor, I add fresh cucumber. None of that assures a great cocktail, but it sure doesn't hurt.


In a world with a seemingly bottemless supply of different liquors, liqueurs, bitters, and non-alcoholic ingredients, I find having a themed menu helps give me direction. I've overheard people say "He makes up drink names that go along with a theme." While that statement isn't untrue, it oversimplifies what is actually going on. I allow the theme to guide the cocktails by choosing names that are relevant to the theme, but also provide direction, be it the style, flavor, ingredient, or a particular brand of liquor. For example, on the Grateful Dead menu we have the song pairing "Cucumberland Blues -> Friend of the Devil." Each song dictates an attribute. The wordplay on the song Cumberland Blues dictates that a prominent flavor will be cucumber. The second song, Friend of the Devil, gives me a brand-based direction on the base spirit: Devil's Bathtub Gin. Gin + Cucumber? My wife is going to love me for this one! That nomenclature holds true for all my drinks, and the task of coming up with these direction providing names is a fun part of the process. This approach often offers unique challenges and flavor pairings, and helps push me into unexplored territory.


That is a very good question. This thing that I’m doing is rather costly and offers no decernable reward. I end up working the two best parties of the season, and most people will never know how much work I put into the back end, or pay close enough attention to the menu to discover the nuances. Yet I still care about it enough to spend the time & money, give up those parties, and hell… create a f’n website about it. I don’t have a reasonable answer for why. I do almost all of the menu designs, drink creation, costumes, and prop work during the winter months. So, I suppose this is just a creative outlet for when my other hobbies are unavailable to me.


Most of the recipes on these menus I would consider mine. That being said, I'm not above occasionally using or modifying existing recipes when they meet my requirements. For example, the "Bill Fuckin Murray" cocktail is taken from an existing drink called Delirium, aka The Bill Murray Cocktail. It's a drink that I discovered and loved before I had the idea of doing a Wes Anderson theme. That menu gave me the opportunity to share it. I've also done my share of playing off the classics. But, regardless of the origins, all the recipes I've used are available on the menu pages. If there are homemade ingredients in a cocktail, those recipes are available as well. Or, if you're just looking for ideas, you can use this search form to find drinks by name, spirit, ingredient, flavor, or any other keyword you feel like typing in.



I pick two events each year to debute the newest menus. I simply can't afford to do more than that. If you would like the SpeakEasyUp at your event, it would need to be something that you and/or your guests pay for. Many of my menus require weeks or months of preparation, so notice far in advance of the event would be required. Additionally, some ingredients are not easily obtainable. I've had bottles hand carried from other states, and even from other countries. Even in cases where it may have been possible to pay crazy "signature required" shipping charges, that is no longer an option. In August of 2017 Missouri passed a law (H.B. 115) making it illegal for retailers to ship liquor direct to Missouri consumers. As a result, any liquors that are not available locally would likely need to be substituted.

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