Finding a good glass of wine in Healdsburg is a no-brainer, but up to now cocktails have not been this newly hip wine country destination’s forte. So those who like to linger and mingle over mixed drinks will welcome the arrival of Prohibition – The Speakeasy Wine Club, with its retro vibe and “secret” entrance.
Designed to evoke the underground ambiance of a 1930s illegal speakeasy, Prohibition has a jazzy 1920s elegance yet feels casual and comfortable at the same time. You first enter a small retail storefront selling wine-related gifts, then slip into Speakeasy through a “secret” entrance at the back of an antique telephone booth. Step into the booth as if to make a call and the back wall slides up — it’s all pretty fun, if a tad hokey.
Owners Richard and Kae Rosenberg, who also own the elegant Grape Leaf Inn, come by their Roaring Twenties obsession honestly; Richard’s grandfather was a bonafide bootlegger. The eye-catching photos and artifacts sprinkled throughout the wine shop and bar let you know that Richard takes his Prohibition history seriously, juicing the authenticity of the ambiance.
Once inside, you find yourself in a mid-century moderne-style wine bar where small tables made from burnished cask lids are enclosed behind silky draperies and local wines are on “tap” at the sleek semi-circular bar.
Among the artisanal beers on tap are Prohibition Ale, Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, White Lighting, and other small-batch brews. The cocktails are actually wine cocktails, but these are a long way from Bartles and James. Cutely named after Bogart and contemporaries, they feature carefully chosen rare vintages mixed with waters and subtle fruity flavors to create fresh, light, drinkable thirst-quenchers. I don’t know if the hipsters who will flock to this joint will order a drink called “Bubbles LaRue,” but only time will tell.
Speakeasy operates as a wine club, members will receive two bottles of award-winning local wine every two months, or six bottles every six months, depending on the arrangement. While this arrangement clearly appeals to locals, weekend visitors are welcome as well.