Secret Society

I believe I am about to write my first book review, it may not be like a normal book review but lets try it out

In our Bristol store we sell a few interior books and magazines, we buy our favourites that we own ourselves as I am sure other people will love them too. Sometimes while researching other books to order, other titles kind of catch our eye. While ordering one of our favourites “Rough Luxe” from Farameh media they suggested one of their other titles “Secret Society – Modern Speakeasy style and design” by Christian Alexander. Now this does sounds like something we would like but definetly did not catch my eye as I kind judged it on the cover. It is not a good one.  A kind of leather buttoned padding print and with a box cover which has a kind of Relentless, Proffesor Green font. However I took the recommendation and got a few for the store and luckily was very very pleased with the book.


Yes it was released in November 2012 so I am a little behind but its not like talking about some Harry Potter book that everyone has already read. This is one hell of a great book if you like to go on holiday and find some cool bars with great interiors. This is alot of what mine and Edd’s holidays entail ,so yeah a perfect tour guide to beautiful places with quite hefty priced cocktails.

The book opens with a bit of history into the American prohibition between 1920 and 1933 and the role of the original speakeasys. Alexander then rather simply describes a speakeasy as a mix of a “good party”  and a “good secret” and hey like he says that is something a hell of a lot of people are gonna like.

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The book is then essentially a list of 52 Speakeasys that Alexander thinks very highly of and as his Grandfather drove a bootleg liquor truck for Al Capone and he used to throw illegal dance partys I will take it he knows way more than me on this subject. The book is physically large so looks at home on a coffee table, also being so big the photographs look great. Beware this book will make you pine for New York with 30 of the bars being in the city so with only 4 UK bars included all of which are in London their is some travelling to do if you wanna make it to a good selection of these Secret spots. If you don’t get chance to make it to them ,the book gives some amazing interios ideas with my absoloute favourite interior being Bite Club House in Sydney.

The Bite club house looks like any other house on a residential street but inside you are greeted by the most wonderful rough luxe and Victoriana interiors. It is essentially an underground dining experience and the food on their website looks fantastic. It also pretty much epitomizes my grand intentions for a home I don’t have yet.


Bite Cub Sydney – Photo of the Bite Club page in the Secret Society book

Below are a few other fabulous photos of Bite Club from Vogue Living in 2009.

Bite club is now a ‘magical mix of faded grandeur and romantic opulence. Its peeling walls are testament to decades of history but, thanks to a combination of subtle colours, antique furniture and decadent lighting, the space feels calm and welcoming’. (Vogue Living, Jun/July 2009

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Alas I have no intentions of going to Sydney any time soon but the photographs are so very inspiring for homes not just restaurants and bars. If you want to try and visit some of the places in the book there are a few more closer to home with 4 featured in London.

These are :

  • Home House
  • Jalouse
  • La Bodega Negra
  • Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

The picture below is the entrance to the Mayor of Scardey Cat town, you go through the fridge yo enter the bar which always adds a bit of extra excitement!


Like I said New York is pretty much the home of the speakeasy and the decadet night out with 30 of the list of 52 being in New York. Although they are a “secret” they are obviously a pretty well known secret, hey they are in books and stuff. Although if you do not know about them they are all easily passable and often unbranded in an unexpected location. The book includes some of the big hitting names in New York including Death an Co and PDT, although it did miss out Milk and Honey. I wanted to give Milk and Honey a special mention as I had the most fabulous birthday there. Yes it is pretty darn hard to find the first time but you are rewarded with your favourite cocktail whatever it may be. It is a vocal menu so just say your choice of Liquor and the bartender  usually comes up with what now becomes your new favourite cocktail. I only had one dud cocktail but after dinner in Freemans which is feautured in Secret Society and drinks in Milk and Honey its fair to say whatever the last drink I had was not going to go down particularly well. I really didnt need any more and left through the red velvet curtain rather blearry eyed. So yes it probably was the most expensive night out of my life but definitely one of the very best.

Like I said in the book we have also visited Death and Co, Cafe Select and Freemans there were grand intentions of going to the Box on my birthday but alas the night had already broke the bank. New York being our very favourite city Im sure will call us back soon. We will have to make sure there is extra money aside to visit all these beautiful looking places.

Here are a few photographs From our NY trip in Death and Co, Freemans and Milk and Honey. (note the easily missable M&H door)


Two other New York establishment that feature that must take a mention are The Campbell Apartment at Grand Central Station and CORE: Club. I wanted to mention the Campbell Apartment for its fantastic back story. It was once the office of “John W Campbell, 1920′s tycoon, President and Chairman of credit clearing house and member of the board of New York Central railroad.” Campbell would work in their in the day behind a large desk and entertained guests in the evening. Campbell died in 1957 and the office became a whole number of things including a signal mans office and a closet. It just seems pretty cool that in Grand Central station there are places to go that not everyone would know about and have a good bit of history too.

The CORE: Club is worth mentioning mainly for the dollar you need to get into this place! Its completely unmarked and a real difficult one to find and once you have even found it your are gonna need $50,000 initiation fee and a mere $15,000 for annual membership. So maybe don’t rock up to this one for your fabulous cocktail also in my opinion it does not seem to have such an interior draw


Paris though is our next destination so we are looking forward to visiting La Pompon, if its still open that is as we have heard a few rumours it is no more.


So yes if you want to have a lovely book with wonderful interior pictures that also gives you some of the most exciting night spots to head to round the world get this book.

I do realise this started off as a book review but got derailed quickly by our own experiences and other interior photographs. This book has given us many more ideas as well as places to visit. Totally looking forward to having a whole bunch of fun, whiskey and hugely memorable nights.



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