Mum's the Word at the Secret Speakeasy in Littleton

Eric "Benny" Bloom of Lettuce is one of the musicians playing the Secret Speakeasy.EXPAND
Eric "Benny" Bloom of Lettuce is one of the musicians playing the Secret Speakeasy.
Michael Emery Hecker
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Update September, 29, 2020: The Secret Speakeasy has changed its name to Speakeasy 303 for legal reasons.

It's okay to admit it: Not everybody has followed COVID-19 guidelines to a T. Many of us have slipped up, maybe sneaking out of the house to grab a drink with a friend, having a date over when we shouldn't, or meeting up with a few too many people.

We don't live in a perfect world, and it's unrealistic to think that every individual is following every guideline, though that's the hope and the right thing to do. Then again, the right thing isn't always the easy thing, and we're all ready for life to be easy.

If we think about it, things aren't that different from a hundred years ago. In 1920, if you wanted to meet up for a drink with a friend during the Prohibition era, it really was a secret. There was plenty of sneaking around. News of bars and other watering holes was whispered through word of mouth and passwords shared, all so people could have a little fun and relief at the end of the work week.

That secretiveness is just the vibe at a new pop-up experience called the Secret Speakeasy at the Alley, a restaurant in downtown Littleton. While tickets for this month's edition are sold out, it will be back in October.

"We want the experience from beginning to end to be secret and word-of-mouth-oriented," says Sarah Shuel, co-creator of the event. "We created the Instagram, and that's probably the only social media we'll ever do. We put posters all over Main Street that just say 'Shhh.''"

The organizers created the event to bring income to the Alley, but also to create some excitement, says Shuel: "In times like this, you look for things like, 'Ooh, I'm getting away with something.'"

While the pop-up bills itself as "secret," it will still be following all CDC guidelines. The creators, Shuel and Cory Pearman, wanted to give people the chance to feel like they were doing something fun and different.

The September 14 pop-up will include a trio of jazz musicians: drummer Alejandro Castaño, keys player Tom Amend and trumpeter Eric "Benny" Bloom, best known for playing in the funk band Lettuce. "He's made it big, and he's still willing to do something in a small town in Colorado to support restaurants," Shuel says of Bloom. 

"They'll be performing as a jazz trio," she adds. "What we've been noticing a lot going on is that these high-profile musicians are getting together to play jam sessions. They play around Denver just as a trio. Benny is such a big deal. We kind of idolized him a little, and he was super-supportive."

Shuel and Pearman say other popular musicians have expressed interest in playing, too.

Pearman, who has been a bartender for 22 years, is excited about the event's cocktails, which include a spicy Old Fashioned and a peach julep mule, mimicking the mint julep that was popular in the Prohibition era.

"We posted the reservation link, and it was sold out within 24 hours. I know the Alley has been getting a lot of calls with questions," Shuel says. "That's kind of what we wanted, though. It's supposed to be special."

Tickets for October's edition will be available for reservation on the event's Instagram page.

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