The new Roaring Twenties

The 1920s ushered in an era packed with glitz, glamour and runaway progress in nearly every aspect of daily life. From advances in aviation to automobiles rolling off the assembly line, getting into the big city was ‘duck soup’ for nearly every part of the population. Equally creative minds were bursting with new and exciting ideas. This was the start of Hollywood, jazz, innovative architecture and design and oodles of scandalous literature. As one skyscraper sprang up after another, the booming economy and resulting unbridled wealth had rewards of its own – nightlife, and lots of it. There was only one small pernickety thing getting in the way: Prohibition. But with the spirit of invention as bright as ever, the speakeasy was born and with it a new culture of letting loose and celebrating every second. This month at the Society we’re celebrating our thirst for life and ushering in a new kind of Twenties with even more razzle dazzle than the Twenties that came before. Here’s how…


And all that jazz

The 1920s saw the birth of the radio with music and news available with the careful tuning of the dial. We’ve captured the spirit of the times with a Spotify playlist that’s positively hopping with hits. Just search Spotify for A roaring good time with the SMWS. There’s jazz, vaudeville and plenty of tunes for all you bright sparks. For something a bit more modern, take in the latest Whisky Talk: Malts & Music episode with Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake. You’ll find his additions to the Music & Malts playlist here.

Burning the candle at both ends

While the need for a speakeasy has thankfully passed, we’re capturing the spirit of the era with a twist that’s as unique as some of the illicit bars from back in the day. How about a weekly three-dram whisky tasting with all whiskies over the age of 20 at 28 Queen Street? If you’re in the Big Smoke, celebrate 88 years since the repeal of prohibition at 19 Greville Street. And of course, with a new whisky release each week in the UK, there’ll be not one but three preview tastings at each of our Members’ Rooms this month. Decadence!

If you’re heading outside of the big city, we’ll be at the Kendal Whisky Festival on 4 and 5 December followed by a glorious return to the Scottish capital on 11 December for the National Whisky Festival. There’s also a raft of special events dotted around the UK and Europe with whisky tastings, special Society dinners and more.

The silver screen

Prohibition may be over but there’s no reason why you can’t hold a speakeasy soiree of your own to channel the opulence of the era. Let’s start with the giggle water. From the Old Fashioned to the Sazerac, there’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to imbibing Prohibition-style. Whether you choose whisky, gin or champagne, serve your cocktail in a teacup and you can’t go wrong.

In the 1920s, the cinema was a regular outing for everyone. Although the movies of the time might have been silent there’s no additional soundtrack necessary to absorb the frenetic and sometimes downright strange fads of the decade. Murnau’s Sunrise: A song of two humans captures the intrigues of big city adventures, while sci-fi futurism in Fitz Lang’s Metropolis offers a glimpse of what could be. There’s light-hearted slapstick with Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. Hosting at home? Channel the silver screen of yesteryear and get them on a projector.

Dress to impress

This is the time to doll up. Tuxedos and beaded dresses are de rigueur. And don’t forget the accessories where more, is truly more. Think top hats, canes and spats, or feathers, beads and all the jewels. White gloves complete the look for ladies and gents. When it comes to sprucing up your residence, go wild with art nouveau embellishments. Pair bold jewel tones with metallics and take inspiration from the eveningwear of the era with feathers, beads, and plenty of sparkle. Champagne tower, anyone?

Perfect pairings

Most importantly, don’t forget to fortify your guests. Prawns with cocktail sauce, devilled eggs and olives, nuts and cheese will keep the party roaring along. If you’re going for a sit-down supper, then it’s all about decadence with oysters, roasts and as many courses as you can stomach. Keep the evening going well into the early hours with music, cards or even mah-jong. Here at the Society we’re ready to bring the glitz, the glamour and the whisky. Already busy getting dressed up to the nines to head out on the town? Or perhaps you have plans to take it all in from at home with your inner circle? However you plan to embrace this new era of partying and socialising, let’s raise a glass to the new Twenties!