Lehigh Valley’s Speakeasy
June 1st, 2011 posted by Nancy Signorovitch
I recently stopped in The Bookstore Speakeasy in Bethlehem's South Side to meet with the owner before the place opened for the evening. I've seen many a restaurant prep for a busy night, but I have to say I've never experienced it with a 1920's flair. The menu (which is glued in the front pages of actual books) states "hand chipped ice" so I teased Paul, the bartender, when he brought out a bucket of ice from a back room machine. He responded by saying he broke up the ice before I got there. I thought he was joking…he wasn't. The ice I saw was for water, not for the cocktails. They actually break down blocks of ice and hand chip it for mixing their famous libations.
That's just for starters…their juices are fresh squeezed using an old fashioned weighted press, and all the oil lamps and candles which supply 90% of the lighting are filled, lit and placed around the room. Minutes before opening, the clip-on electric lamps used to illuminate for cleaning purposes are whisked away and dress shirts, vests and bow ties are donned. Cue the 20's jazz and officially step back in time.
I was so impressed with the "Hemingway Daiquiri" Paul whipped up for me that I suggested Don and I return for dinner the next Saturday evening. We didn't have reservations but luckily got the last available table, right in front of the band. I was a little worried about the proximity until they set up. No amps…no mikes…not needed. We escaped back in time listening to the sounds of the band's bass sax, banjo, cornet and slide trombone while sipping a "Death by Dirigible". Our dinners were excellent as well.
For those of you who have heard of The Bookstore, Lehigh Valley's speakeasy, but haven't gone there yet…what are you waiting for? Make reservations and go! Then let me know what you think.