If "Boardwalk Empire" has whet your whistle for a nice old speakeasy, the Omni William Penn has just obliged. It opened the doors to Speakeasy last Thursday, the 79th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, on the site of what was once the hotel's actual illegal bar. The space on the ground floor beneath the William Penn Place entrance was used during and after Prohibition, but at some point years ago it was closed and converted to storage. As part of the hotel's recent renovation, the room was emptied and voila -- an old mahogany bar was discovered, along with a secret passage to a street door on Oliver through which patrons could escape in the event of a raid.
A total re-do pays homage to the past while creating a sophisticated social lounge perfect for today. Velvet flocked wallpaper and a low tin ceiling enhance the intimate flavor of the bar, while a display case holds vintage bottles from the hotel's early days.
Although Henry Clay Frick built Old Overholt distillery in 1916, bottles of Old Overholt whiskey labeled with the William Penn name have dates of 1911 and 1912. Frick owned the distillery (not Thomas Mellon, as "Boardwalk" would have us believe) and planned well ahead for the hotel's opening.
Exclusive elixirs such as absinthe and innovative drinks with classic roots are the stars of the menu--from the Blood and Sand to the Light's Out martini, and, of course, Old Fashioneds. A curated selection of iconic era brands join local craft distillers including Boyd & Blair, Wigle and Dad's Hat.
Speakeasy is open Thursday through Saturday evenings and for private events. Cozy and private, it's the perfect place for a romantic rendezvous, a quiet drink with friends after the theater or a pre-dinner warm-up on a chilly night. And those ghosts? Have another drink!