The Clandestine Bar

by Pingkan Palilingan
18th September 2015
Prohibition Chophouse & Speakeasy Bar encapsulates the clandestine feel of a speakeasy bar during the Prohibition era with its elaborate list of spirits and “food fit for gangsters”.

The 1920s Prohibition era has always seemed to intrigue public’s curiosity. And judging from the amount of speakeasy-inspired bars that have recently emerged across our town, Jakarta seemed to be intrigued by the era as well. However, if there’s one bar in Jakarta that is a perfect embodiment of speakeasies, it is Prohibition Chophouse & Speakeasy Bar.

Calling Plaza Senayan Arcadia a home since March, Prohibition takes us back to the Roaring Twenties when illicit alcohol production and consumption grew rampant underground in the U.S. By looking at the interior, menu, and elaborate list of alcoholic drinks, it is clear that Prohibition is duly committed to the underground spirit in the 1920s.

The bar/restaurant is divided into two separated areas: the chophouse, which is Prohibition’s main dining area, and a hidden speakeasy bar. From the outside, the chophouse may look like those run-of-the-mill restaurants that are ubiquitous in Senayan. But once in, the place is as classy as it can be with regal fit-outs, upholstered leather chairs, and a discerning crowd who frequented the place for after-work drinks. Not to forget, the long bar with its rotating cabinet that seem to “hide” the house’s lavish collections of liquor whenever there’s an unforeseen alcohol raid (but of course, the alcohol is legal here).

While the chophouse is open for public, the entrance to the speakeasy bar is concealed and restricted for members only. Perfect for those who value exclusivity above anything, visitors can apply for annual membership that will allow them to have fingerprint access to the bar, a package of premium spirits, and a personal bottle locker. With an impressive interior that will cast one’s mind back to the ‘20s, the speakeasy bar easily becomes the prime attraction of the place. The ambiance is similar to a clandestine club, where hushed conversations are exchanged between colleagues, with crooning vocals from a jazz singer as the backdrop.

Prohibition serves lunch and dinner with menu bearing the tagline “Food Fit For Gangsters”, referring to its hearty and generous portion. One of the favourites is the Gangster Meat Platter where diners can combine three meat types (tenderloin, striploin, rib eye, lamb cutlet, etc.) that are perfectly cooked, accompanied by three variants of sauce.

Finally, there’s nothing more perfect than to top it off with a couple of Prohibition’s signature cocktails that are created and served befitting the history of each drink. Take the Pimm’s Cup for instance. It is served in a mini bathtub – a witty allusion to illegal alcohol makers in the ‘20s who made spirits in the bathtubs of their own homes. Or order one of the Rum Runners that are served in barrels, a reference to people who smuggled alcohol in wooden barrels.

Prohibition is not the most affordable place you’d came upon, but the place is able to encapsulate the rare experience of hanging out in a speakeasy bar. With a regular live jazz performance and thematic events held every week, Prohibition would no doubt become the most talked-about clandestine bar in town.