The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Local speakeasies

815 Cocktails and Provisions, 815 Elm St., Manchester, 782-8086, They’re open Monday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Special events coming up include the annual Prohibition Party on Dec. 9 (during which they’ll be releasing a new select barrel of whiskey from Old Forester) and the business will be celebrating its third anniversary near the end of January. 
Codex Books. Antiques. Rarities. (B.A.R.), 1 Elm St., Nashua, 864-0115, They’re open Tuesday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Chuck’s BARbershop, 90 Low Avenue, Concord, Coming soon.

Secret bars
A twist on the modern bar experience

By Ryan Lessard

 Prohibition is long-gone but a few area bars have taken up the mantle of speakeasy — a drinking establishment themed after 1920s watering holes, tucked away in hidden pockets of the state’s urban landscape.

Right now there are two local speakeasies and a third one on the way. They share a level of secrecy, a trick for getting through the door, Prohibition-era-inspired decor and a heavy emphasis on high-quality craft cocktails. 
In Manchester, the first speakeasy to open in the state was 815 Cocktails and Provisions, located on Elm Street.
Co-owner Sarah Maillet said one thing that makes speakeasies different from other bars is they usually don’t advertise openly. Finding the place through word of mouth adds to the overall experience.
“It’s definitely the experience, as a whole, especially for 815, where we haven’t done any real advertising other than word of mouth and social media,” Maillet said.
At 815, patrons are required to give a password through a phone booth intercom at the door. The password changes weekly and is posted on social media every Monday.
“So it becomes more of an adventure,” Maillet said.
While some of the interior decor resembles old 1920s speakeasies, with a brick wall that has the words “Vote Against Prohibition” painted on it, and black curtains drawn over all the windows, there are also some more modern art murals on the walls.
“We’ve put our own new modern flair on it,” Maillet said.
She describes the interior as funky and vintage, and that can be said of the drinks too. 
While the bartenders at 815 mix sidecars and sazeracs with the same attention to detail and fresh ingredients as the original recipes called for, they also use their decades of combined bartending experience to experiment and create original cocktails, like the Sake To Me, a cocktail made with sake, shiso tequila and pear juice with sugar, cinnamon and chili powder on the rim.
They make a lot of their own infusions as well as liqueurs like limoncello, d’orgeat and dram. And they have a wide variety of whiskeys.
“I would say we have one of the largest whiskey collections in the area,” Maillet said.
Another speakeasy in Nashua, called Codex Books. Antiques. Rarities., is hidden behind a faux bookstore front. To get in, owner Liu Vaine said one needs to pull the correct book from the bookshelf.
Inside, Vaine takes the Prohibition theme to the next level with period decor and staff that dress in 1920s attire.
“Once you step inside, you jump into the 1920s,” Vaine said. “We have a lot of regulars who come in all decked out like they’re in the 1920s.”
Even the music is appropriate to the period, and a ragtime piano player comes in on Fridays and Saturdays.
And, like 815, they put a premium on the quality and authenticity of the drinks.
“We even use raw sugar for our Old-fashioned,” Vaine said.
Vaine is currently working on a new speakeasy that will be located in Concord’s Eagle Square. It will be called Chuck’s BARbershop. And unlike the current speakeasies that hide behind simple facades, this bar will be accessed through a functioning barbershop.
“We actually have a barber who’s going to be working there,” Vaine said.
The barber will have ownership over his side of the business and he’ll help bar patrons find their way to the back. 
Vaine has spent months renovating the old building, which he said was the location for Cheers before it moved a few blocks down. He said it’s been abandoned for about 15 years.
The upstairs will be decorated with a Prohibition theme blended with a strong barbershop element, with razors displayed on walls, barbershop paraphernalia and somewhere a portrait of the business’ namesake, Chuck Frederick Nutting, a bartender friend of Vaine’s who died four years ago.
Much of the main floor is already completed, according to Vaine, who hopes to open sometime in December. 
Eventually, he plans to open a whiskey bar in the basement, with old whiskey barrels cut and mounted on the walls to make the illusion of a secret store room. It would double as a function hall for private parties and corporate gatherings.

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