It’s a tale as old as time, weary travelers seeking refuge from the storm in public meeting spaces. As humanity has aged and cultures have evolved so have those spaces, with none as prolific as the old speakeasy lounge from the 1920 era prohibition days. Once prohibition ended those lounges went by the wayside, but with the current cocktail renaissance, those places of refuge are making a resurgence with Shelter – a modern speakeasy in Calgary.
A speakeasy can mean different things to different people. In the prohibition era United States and Canada, it was a hidden bar; free from the authorities and judgements of prudish society. They were an illicit drinking houses where people could enjoy a stiff drink, socialize with like-minded people, let loose and have fun. They were places where legends were born and cocktails were perfected – there is a reason why speakeasies have remained idealized in pop culture. Prohibition may have ended, but we are reimagining the spirit of the old school Speakeasy to Calgary hospitality. At Shelter, we do not have much in the way of signage. We are small and we stay under the radar so that our establishment can be enjoyed by like-minded people. People who are escaping the chaos of the outside world and want to enjoy well-made cocktails created with a nod to speakeasies of years gone by. The concept has been reimagined as private dining rooms in restaurants, or special
Our bar staff have an appreciation for both cocktails and the history of alcohol. Our bar team pulls knowledge and ideas from past cocktail knowledge, from the most popular alcoholic combinations to the most obscure and put their modern knowledge to good use, making those vintage mixes new again. Our space was designed to be rented out for private parties, or private dining occasions, allowing guests to once again feel that sense of independence from the outside world, and enjoy a special, intimate time together.
The Shelter concept is a hideaway from the world. It is a blink and you miss it spot. Friendly guests are always welcome, you simply need to keep your eyes peeled for the black flag outside the door. While Shelter may not be a traditional speakeasy, we still subscribe to the private dining, and familial feel of sharing an experience with close friends, hidden away from the outside world.