Speakeasy Season

The envelope was black, the address handwritten in silver calligraphy. Inside nestled a small, shining graphite key on a thin black cord. This was, the accompanying letter told me, my access-all-areas bracelet to the Cointreau Privé, “London’s most exclusive speakeasy”: a three-week pop-up bar and restaurant designed by Dita von Teese that promises “the ultimate in decadent drinking and dining, French mystique and illicit entertainment”.

Weakened by the prospect of the dark days ahead, I immediately booked a table and have been foraging for just the right down-at-heel-bombshell outfit to wear. Cointreau have picked their moment wisely; winter is the season when the speakeasy comes into its own. An urban December – chilling, monochrome and smogged in damp misanthropy – cries out for the cosy camaraderie, belly-warming cocktails and hedonistic escapism that exemplifies a true ‘blind tiger’.

“Traditional glamour seems to be making a comeback on the London party scene”, says Alvin Saal, Cointreau Brand Manager at First Drinks Brand Limited. ”This leads itself to the decadence and luxury of a pop-up speakeasy; the perfect place for social, charismatic and stylish people to frequent. The Cointreau Privé is a great example of bringing the golden age of glamour to a modern audience.”

The pop-up is modelled on von Teese’s LA home, including signature vintage furniture and items from her shows, with food from renowned chef Laurent Michel and bespoke cocktails. Von Teese launched the pop-up with a VIP cabaret performance on November 29th. It all sounds delicious, but the glamour and gourmet booze that we now associate with speakeasy style would have been unrecognizable to their original patrons. Born out of prohibition in 1920s America, the original bars were deeply insalubrious saloons, often controlled by organized crime gangs.