Planning to throw a speakeasy-themed party or visit a local bar? Check out this must-try menu of finger foods served during the roaring 20s.
7 Must-Have Finger Foods For Your Next Speakeasy Night Out
The Prohibition era, otherwise known as the roaring 20s, has shown that nothing can stop Americans from having fun and socializing.
In 1919, the United States government banned the manufacture, trade, and transportation of liquor or intoxicating beverages by enacting the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. This restriction spawned underground party places, later called speakeasies—where apart from booze, finger foods were also served.
Before entering these hidden gems, you’d be asked to “speak easy” or whisper the passcode or the name of the person who sent you to avoid bursting the party bubble. And while the Prohibition Law was lifted in 1933, the tradition of serving finger foods continues until today, alongside speakeasy bars in different parts of the country. (1)Visit the fanciest speakeasy bar near you if you want to show your rebellious streak and have fun and drinks simultaneously. Throwing or attending a Prohibition-era-themed party can also be a great option. To complete your speakeasy experience, pair your drinks with some of the most popular 1920s party food listed below.
A finger foods menu perfect for speakeasy night outs
Perhaps the most notable 1920s food sets were finger foods served in the legally-prohibited speakeasy bars during the said era. These hearty snacks were given out with alcoholic drinks to give patrons an easy time while holding their drinks in one hand and these tiny bites in the other.Below are speakeasy food ideas, some of which are inspired by the “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” by Fannie Farmer. This recipe book was published a year before Prohibition and broadly used in the US to whip up food in the 1920s during Prohibition and beyond. (1)
1. Bread and butter folds
This easy-to-make sandwich only requires two ingredients: sliced bread and butter. Just cut brown and white bread in any shape and place the darker-toned bread between white ones. Generously apply butter before putting them together. (1)
2. Egg sandwich
To level up your sandwich, prepare bread and butter folds and add finely mixed hardboiled eggs and mayonnaise. Spread on top of the bread, remove the crust, and cut into different shapes. (1)
Different versions of sandwiches sprung out in speakeasies in urban and rural areas in the 1920s. These snacks were served alongside favorite drinks such as gin, rum, ginger ale, and cocktail mixes.
3. Lobster canapés
Canapés are bite-sized pieces of bread or pastry with a tasty topping. In making this, prepare lobster meat, hardboiled eggs, melted butter, mustard, and cream. Season mixture with cayenne and salt and pepper and spread on top of sliced bread.
These snacks are perfect not only as speakeasy food but can be served to complete a savoury space-themed food party. (1)
4. Stuffed mushrooms
This snack food may be more famous in France than in the US, but it is undoubtedly one of the most popular finger food roaring the 20s and speakeasies had introduced to the world. This tasty appetizer mixes mushrooms with butter, garlic, shallots, and walnuts, although you can use other alternatives such as sausage and crab meat. (2)
5. Oysters Rockefeller
This popular appetizer was created years before the Prohibition and capitalized on oysters that could be had at low prices. This decadent aperitif was said to be named after the wealthiest man in the world because of its richness. Oysters Rockefeller is an excellent dish, and it’s always best paired with your favorite beer or wine. As such, these tasteful oysters would become a 1920s party food staple and remain a speakeasy bistro favorite. (2)
This classic sandwich is a deli staple that boasts of Italian origins. According to urban myth, in the 1920s, an Italian immigrant and construction worker’s wife made a sandwich out of thinly sliced salami and ham. She topped it with lettuce, tomatoes, onion slices, and Italian dressing.
When the Italian man took out the sandwich for lunch, a colleague named Hoagie asked if he could get one. This incident sparked a business idea and sandwich revolution, with the Italian man asking his wife to make a sandwich big enough to be shared by plenty of people. Whether true or not, Hoagies have become speakeasy staples because they’re easy to prepare and can fill tummies in no time. (2)
7. Cheese wafers
A cheese wafers recipe is included in Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book,” and it’s easy to see why. The modern recipe consists of rice cereal, a generous amount of grated and shredded cheese, butter, flour, and seasoning. Although this may have been slightly different from the speakeasy foodserved during Prohibition, the snack has proven to be a top favorite and is still being distributed at parties and speakeasy clubs to this day. (3) (4)
Whether planning to organize or attend a speakeasy-themed gathering or visit the nearest speakeasy bistro, knowing which finger foods to go to completes your nostalgic Prohibition era experience.
The food discussed above is only part of the long list of potential appetizers you can serve or eat with your guests while drinking and without necessarily breaking the law.
Mulled Winter Fruit Juice
Consider serving this variation on mulled wine at your next winter get-together. It’s easy to make and will warm you right up on even the coldest December day. First, heat up pomegranate or cranberry juice in a pan. Then, add one or two sprigs of rosemary, a cinnamon stick, some coriander seeds, and a sliced orange. Heat thoroughly, strain, and serve.
- “Prohibition, Speakeasies and Finger Foods”, Source: https://www.history.com/news/prohibition-speakeasies-and-finger-foods
- “Seven Speakeasy Style Recipes for a Roaring New Year’s Eve”, Source: https://www.lifesavvy.com/14732/seven-speakeasy-style-recipes-for-a-roaring-new-years-eve/
- “Speakeasies, Sofas, and the History of Finger Foods”, Source: https://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/history-finger-foods/
- “Crispy Cheese Wafers Recipe”, Source: https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/crispy-cheese-wafers-recipe