Prohibition Era-Styled Bar emphasizes good drinks, good music and the comfort of community.
Tara Gillum, the 33 year old owner of Steiner’s Speakeasy in Chillicothe, says her idea for the retro drinking establishment derives from a plan she and her now-deceased grandfather shared. “I just happened to see this place come up for sale the very next month after he passed, and I kind of thought that was an omen,” Gillum says.
Steiner’s Speakeasy opened June 2, 2014. Steiner’s is named after Gillum’s grandfather, Benjamin Steiner, and Speakeasy comes from her love for the prohibition era evidenced by prohibition bottle and lantern lighting.
Don’t expect bathtub gin at Steiner’s. This bar specializes in handcrafted cocktails and craft beer. The cocktails menu changes seasonally, so this winter’s drinks will use homemade simple syrups, for example, vanilla salted-caramel simple syrup and figs. “Think rich in spices and layers of flavor,” Gillum says.
Steiner’s also specializes in made-to-order mule cocktails. Gillum says that any liquor a customer wants can be put into a mule of his or her choosing. Steiner’s buys most of its ingredients from farmer’s markets so weekend drink specials are based on those ingredients.
One drink always served in Steiner’s is General Sherman’s Hooch, the speakeasy’s special and secret punch. The pink concoction comes served in a mason jar. “We don’t let people have more than three of them,” Gillum says about this signature— and strong—drink.
Drinks are not the establishment’s only popular feature. Steiner’s was named the no. 5 Americana music venue in the country by American Roots magazine, and its stage hosts both local artists and nationally touring artists, such as Zach Deputy. “I feel like the community has embraced our music program in general. It’s almost like if we have music, people are here, and that’s exciting,” Gillum says.
Steiner’s Speakeasy is a small bar, with only two staff members and no televisions. Gillum says the idea is that customers talk to the people around them, listen to music together and bring back that sense of community. Pictures of family align the walls, including a photograph of Gillum’s late grandfather and his wife on their wedding day. There is a small stage to the left of the main entrance, enhancing the space. The bar is set in the back of the room, taking up almost the entire left side. Steiner’s small space lends it an intimate and easy feel.
Gillum says her true motivations reside in the idea of community. “We care about our customers; they aren’t just money in our pocket. We want people to feel like they’re friends here, that they can come here and be comfortable,” Gillum says.
No doubt, such sentiment would make Benjamin Steiner proud.