The Prohibition of The Roaring 1920s

Published 30 May 2015   

Text by Erza S.T.
Photos by Ramadhan

FRVBali_PMR 16The Chophouse.

Just like fashion, restaurant concepts also change with current trends in the culinary world. Over the decades, we have seen fusion, the raw food movement, molecular gastronomy, organic and now the latest one, farm to table. To make it all the more attractive, restaurant proprietors create a matching ambience, using big designer names, choosing crazy interiors to create a one-of-a-kind memorable restaurant.

In Jakarta, we now welcome Prohibition, a new place, which has fast become the talk of the town and appears to have ticked both boxes; great style and great food.

FRVBali_PMR 9The classic yet delicious 200gr steak.

The set up at Prohibition, sited in Arcadia Senayan, is unique and beautiful. Inspired by the decadence of the American prohibition era of the 1920s, the venue oozes style and class. Prohibition is not your usual restaurant and is divided into two areas. The first area is known as The Chophouse and it is a gorgeous looking upscale bistro with both bar and dining area designed in black, white and a dash of gold nuance of art deco. Carrying the spirit of the era, the bar display has automatic flip panels that can be closed to hide all the displayed liquor.

FRVBali_PMR 7In great speakeasy fashion, the bottles behind the bar are easily hidden behind shutter doors, as in the sequence above.

Walking on the gorgeous black and white geometric floor, I decided to sit down in one of the plush round sofa tables for dinner. I browsed through the menu (that is hidden in a music plate cover) and found all the classics from Sturvia caviar, Fines de Claire oysters, Pata Negra, cobb salad and fine steaks. It is the type of menu that would surely make Al Capone and his gang very chuffed. Tasty appetizers such as scallop skewers (from the bites menu) or tuna and foie gras duet were delicious to start with. As for the main course, my 200 gram steak was juicy and cooked to perfection. Where many restaurants these days are going into modern cuisine, I found the menu and taste that Prohibition offers to be quite comforting and bringing back many good memories.

FRVBali_PMR 15The Pim’ms mini bathtub.

On the drinks side, I saw many interesting things on the menu that originated from the prohibition era. One of the most iconic would have to be the “The Bathtub Gin Maker” that comes in a small copper tub with a ladle. Back in the 1920s, the bathtub term appeared in reference to the poor-quality alcohol that was being made. As gin was the predominant drink at the time, many variations were made by mixing cheap grain alcohol with water and flavourings and other agents, such as juniper berry juice and glycerin. Many of them also used bathtubs to distill and ferment it before filling a bottle from the bathtub tap, hence the name, “bathtub gin”. At The Chophouse, they have also created a bathtub version for a Pimm’s mix that is so refreshing.

FRVBali_PMR 1The Speakeasy bar with live music and show six nights a week.

When the United States federal law prohibited the manufacture of distilled spirits in the 1920s, not only did it trigger the Bootlegging Act but it also created a hidden bar concept known as the speakeasy. In The Great Gatsby’s times, these speakeasy saloons were hidden underneath barbershops and the like with fake entrances. In Prohibition, the Speakeasy bar is accessed through a fake room with a broken toilet. Using fingerprint recognition, the wall panel opens to a long corridor before you arrive at a surprisingly large, high-ceilinged lounge. The ambience combines brick walls, post World War II posters and graffiti and live jazz and cabaret shows provide the entertainment, which really gives it the true spirit of the era.

Young and talented interior designer, Tamara Basir, who also designed Colonial in Kemang, has done a fantastic job on bringing this concept to fruition. The Speakeasy bar that is connected to The Chophouse, also has two hidden, yet lavish, karaoke rooms as part of its facilities. Serving premium spirits, single malt whiskies, a modern version of moonshine, and imported cigars, Speakeasy bar at Prohibition will definitely entertain all guests – be they gangsters or not.

Being prohibited has never been so fabulous! [FRV]

Plaza Senayan Arcadia,
2nd Floor. Jakarta
Tel: +62-21-5790-1295
Open six days a week for lunch and dinner.


  1. hi, my name is Elizabeth mars, and I’m blown away by these pictures I am an author working on my first published piece! I am using and I am writing about a lot of things I start out in Winchester England around 1850. I’m hoping to involve the Titanic. because that is how they come over to the united states. Anyways the part were you guys come in is it is set in 1965 looking back on 1941 during pearl harbor, I have a fictional jazz club set in Hannibal mo called Frankies, and if its one thing you guys must have read my mind because if it became a movie I would love to use your pictures in my book! IT straight up classy!! I would am asking permission to use your bar and give you credit of course! That is exactly how I imaged Frankies! let me know what you decide and p.s this is a new series a set of 3 with 3 books total. let me know what you think! hope to hear back. I am working with a lot of museums, and including Brighton’s reodean boarding school for girls.

    Posted by elizabeth mars aka betsy on 01 February 18 at 12:13pm [Comment]
    • The Speakeasy bar with live music and show six nights a week.<<<<

      Posted by elizabeth mars aka betsy on 01 February 18 at 12:21pm

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