The Mob Museum, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, today announced the opening of The Underground, its new Prohibition history exhibition featuring a working distillery and speakeasy. Zappos.com serves as The Underground’s signature sponsor.
Entirely re-envisioning the typical museum exhibition experience, The Underground takes visitors on an uncommonly vivid journey back in time: Situated discreetly in the basement of the Museum, The Underground encompasses 2,814 square feet appointed with luxurious, Art Deco design motifs. Guests of The Underground are encouraged to ponder the time when consuming alcohol was not only a criminal act, but also bred secret watering holes–some of which became the most glamorous places to be.
“We are extremely proud of this addition to the Museum, which was developed to tell the story of this pivotal period of American history in the most dynamic way possible,” said Jonathan Ullman, president and chief executive officer, The Mob Museum. “To our many supporters whose contributions made The Underground possible, we extend enormous gratitude.”
The Museum’s project team for The Underground included LG Architects, design firm Gallagher and Associates, historic consultant Robert Chattel of Chattel, Inc., custom fabricator CREO Industrial Arts, the City of Las Vegas and CORE Construction.
Numerous exhibits and artifacts found in the distillery and speakeasy add depth and context to the experience. Exhibits and artifacts on display bring to life the essence of a time that saw organized crime syndicates grow richer and more powerful than ever before, while giving rise to great cultural and societal change.
Artifacts on display include:
- Five-gallon whiskey still, an example of one of the smaller home stills used to make alcohol during Prohibition.
- Valise with hidden flasks produced by Abercrombie & Fitch, with a brass stud on its base that, when swiveled, reveals a tiny keyhole. Once unlocked, the false bottom opens to reveal three silver flasks.
- One-gallon “alky cooker” like those used by impoverished families employed by Chicago’s Genna brothers to make small batches of liquor in their homes.
- Grape brick sign, which advertised the blocks of grape concentrate sold in grocery stores. These blocks could be combined with water to make grape juice. Of course, yeast could be added, the mixture poured into a bottle, the bottle corked and, three weeks later—voila!—home-made wine.
- Budweiser frozen eggs, which along with more than 25 other non-alcoholic products, carried Anheuser Busch’s most popular brand name during Prohibition. Other products included soft drinks, malt extract, corn syrup and truck bodies. The frozen eggs were sold in 30-pound canisters and stabilized with sugar and salt.
- Beaded chiffon dress, circa 1926, which provides an example of the new and bolder fashions that became popular during the Prohibition era due to the rise of flapper culture.
A unique aquarium exhibit, produced in conjunction with The Animal Planet series “Tanked,” tells the story of the 1922 sinking of the Lizzie D, a tug boat believed to have moonlighted as a rum runner, off the coast of Fire Island, New York. The 440-gallon tank memorializes the discovery of the sunken vessel in 1977, which was indeed found to be carrying crates containing hundreds of bottles of Kentucky bourbon, Scotch whisky and Canadian rye whisky.
Master Distiller in Residence George Racz, oversees the initial production of corn-mash moonshine in The Underground’s 60-gallon, custom-made copper-pot still. Capable of producing 250 750 ml jars of moonshine per week, the gleaming still forms the focal point of the distillery.
In the speakeasy, The Underground’s moonshine provides the centerpiece of the cocktail collection, while a full bar is also available. The speakeasy cocktail menu includes typical Prohibition cocktails such as Bee’s Knees, Underground Old Fashioned, Ginger Jake and Giggle Water. A variety of coffee cocktails, draft beer, bottled beer, wines by the glass and non-alcoholic cocktails are also available.
Finally, for private groups and intimate events, a VIP hideaway called “The Fitting Room,” concealed by a secret entrance off the speakeasy, can accommodate up to 12 guests.
Entrance to The Underground at The Mob Museum is free with general Museum admission until 5 p.m.; guests who wish to visit just The Underground after 5 p.m.may enter via its exterior side entrance free of charge until closing. The new hours of the Museum, including The Underground, are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday, and 9 a.m. until midnight, Thursday through Saturday.
For even more information about Prohibition, visit the Museum’s online exhibit at prohibitionhistory.org.