The Mob Museum to debut the underground
The Mob Museum, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, will reinvent the way guests experience history when it unveils The Underground, a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of Prohibition, in April 2018.
Guests touring The Underground will learn about Prohibition-era bootlegging and rum running. Prohibition shut down thousands of breweries and distilleries across America, but it could not eliminate the public’s desire for alcohol. It simply forced the brewing and distilling of booze into the shadows, where it became the purview of organized crime syndicates. Indeed, Prohibition led directly to the rise and proliferation of the Mob in America.
Entirely re-envisioning the typical museum exhibition experience, The Underground will take visitors on an uncommonly vivid journey back in time: Situated discreetly in the basement of the Museum, The Underground will house a real working distillery and speakeasy. While visiting these vibrant, immersive environments, guests will be compelled to ponder the time when consuming alcohol was not only a criminal act, but also bred secret watering holes that became the most glamorous places to be.
Numerous artifacts found in the distillery and speakeasy will add depth and context to the experience. Items to be on display include a beaded chiffon dress, ca. 1926, which is an example of the new and bolder fashions that became popular during the Prohibition era due to the rise of flapper culture, as well as a 5-gallon whiskey still, one of the smaller home stills used to make alcohol during Prohibition.
Complete with luxurious Art Deco-inspired design motifs, and a distinctive sense that something illicit is afoot, The Underground speakeasy will feature The Mob Museum’s own house-distilled spirits and house-brewed beer, as well as tempting Prohibition-era cocktails. Genuine Moonshine made onsite from corn mash will be the centerpiece of the cocktail collection, which will also feature a full bar including the Museum’s proprietary vodka, gin and rum.
The Museum has contracted craft cocktail and hospitality industry professional Clint Thoman to serve as its food and beverage director for the speakeasy and distillery. With the Museum, he is creating a cocktail menu as authentic to the Prohibition era as possible—replete with Manhattans, juleps, martinis, smashes, rickeys and flips gleaned from the period’s cocktail books—while also crafting original cocktails inspired by the spirits and flavors of the era.
“During Prohibition, half the country wantonly broke the law so they could enjoy a cocktail, yet their drink choices were rather limited,” explained Thoman. “This meant creativity and improvisation were key. To reflect the era, we will be serving a rotating roster of flavored moonshines, house-made infusions, and variety of original cocktails inspired by the Prohibition era as well as beers brewed on-site.”
For more information about Prohibition, visit the Museum’s online exhibit at prohibitionhistory.org. To follow progress on the Museum’s enhancement program and all new exhibits opening in 2018, visit themobmuseum.org/renovation.