For the holidays, Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club opened Maxwell’s, a pop-up speakeasy located in an area otherwise used for storage.
While true speakeasies are long gone thanks to the end of Prohibition in 1933, the clandestine style of these illicit establishments continues to appeal to even modern Americans, and the interest is spreading to clubs and resorts.
In November, Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club (OCGCC) in Nichols Hills, Okla., opened Maxwell’s, a pop-up speakeasy located in an area otherwise used for banquet-chair storage and accessed through a hidden staircase. The bar was named in honor of Perry Maxwell, who designed the club’s 18-hole golf course, and seats 15 to 20 people.
“Our speakeasy concept is something new and innovative that we wanted to offer our membership during the holiday months,” says Assistant Clubhouse Manager Lia Moretti. “We already offer so many amenities throughout the clubhouse, so the appeal of Maxwell’s is that it is only available for a limited amount of time.”
The idea for the speakeasy came to General Manager/COO Oliver Boudin, CCM, while he visited Italy, scouting out wineries and locations for a members’ trip. He visited a local version multiple times, and wanted to bring the concept to the club.
To transform the space, staff used furnishings already available at the property, while Boudin visited antique shops around town to pick up old photos, glassware, lamps and a chandelier.
The next step—promoting the amenity while keeping it “hush-hush”—was an important part of the new venue’s success, says Moretti.
“After taking some inspiration from renowned and successful speakeasies in New York, Chicago, and Portland, we decided to market Maxwell’s slowly and discreetly to our membership via Instagram and Twitter,” she explains. “We would post a photograph of the record player or the antique telephone with a brief caption, such as ‘SHHHH,’ that would get [members] excited without revealing too much.”
Now that the room has opened, Moretti adds, “We try to keep the mystery alive on a nightly basis by changing our password to gain access to the speakeasy.”
To make the space even more appealing, beyond its limited availability from November through December, staff developed inventive cocktails, such as the Bye Bye Birdie, Knee Knocker, and Case of the Yips, and Executive Chef Mark Brown, CEC, CCA, AAC put together a small-bites menu (see the menu here).
“We offer three nightly single-bite hors d’oeuvres: two savory, one sweet,” says Brown. Menu items have included Smoked Salmon Mousse, Cured Coppa Ham with Pickled Peaches and Bacon Jam, Parmesan Crème-Filled Gougere, Caramel and Sea Salt Chews, and Nut Brittle.
“It is refreshing to see our members take a chance on our adventurous cocktails and order something they may not typically drink,” Moretti adds.
OCGCC members can make reservations for the speakeasy up to one month in advance, and the space was fully booked for several dates before its opening. “The allure of being able to get a reservation there brings a certain element of exclusivity, which [members] absolutely love,” Moretti says.
As is always the case, though, members’ full appreciation of the amenity also stems from a dedicated staff’s impeccable service.
“Our membership has been very excited and supportive of our latest concept,” Moretti says. “They have fun getting into the theme of things and can often be seen taking photos using our antique hat collection. Due to the small space, they get unique and personalized service from our bar staff that makes them feel like they have been [transported] to a different era.”