Welcome to Dunnigan’s: Bel Air’s Premiere Speakeasy
History of Dunnigan’s
It’s been a long day at work, and all you want is a drink to help you unwind from the stress. There’s only one problem: it’s Prohibition. However, you’ve heard rumors around town that there’s a special place where you can get what you want. So, you head to town; at the described location on Courtland Street, you walk through the door, praying that you’re in the right place.
The sign says “Dunnigan Hotel.” A woman you know as the bailiff’s wife, Barbara Ferry, greets you. As you ask her if you can get a “drink” here, she nods back towards the front door to the hotel. She explains that the entrance to the tavern in the basement level is on Bond Street around the corner. Relieved that you are, in fact, in the right place, you follow Barbara’s instructions to the liquor store and tavern. General merriment and bustle from inside the tavern meet you when you open the door.
Stepping inside, hearing a mix of dozens of conversations and music from some corner of the room, you see that the bar is fully stocked thanks to local bootleggers. You also spot Bernard Dunnigan at the bar; he manages this side of the Dunnigan’s business. Emboldened by the other patrons laughing and having a grand old time, you head to the bar and finally order the Old Fashioned you’ve been craving. With the cool glass in your hand, the familiar smell of sweet caramel and woody notes hit you when you go to take the first sip – just as you remembered it.
While you’re enjoying the hard-earned beverage, you overhear a conversation about other “Blind Tigers” in the area. Curious about the topic at hand, you ask the group about the phrase. Someone explains that “blind tiger” is used to refer to a place where liquor is sold illegally. They continue, saying that the name comes from the common practice of some places using animal exhibitions to get around the Prohibition laws passed by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.
Another person from the group exclaims that there are tunnels that run in between the tavern and the courthouse; after all, the bailiff does run the tavern. Another person recalls an article in the Aegis reporting on local stills of alcohol being destroyed by dynamite after federal agents discovered establishments in the county.
Finally, your thirst satiated, you thank the group for a night of conversation and your bartender for the drink. You set the now-empty, slightly warm glass on the counter and exit the tavern. On your way home, you silently pray that the Prohibition ends soon.
- “Funny Money” to use at the game tables
- An open bar and catering
- A free cigar
- A custom Dunnigan’s souvenir
- An experience like no other
Saturday, Sept. 21, 2024
Bel Air Armory
37 N Main St, Bel Air, MD 21014
$120 per ticket
Let it Ride 3 Card
2024 Details TBD
Blind Tiger: Bourbon/Tequila, Demerara Syrup, Bitters, Orange Peel, Luxardo. The term “blind tiger” was used to describe places where liquor was sold illegally during Prohibition!
Courtland Underground: Vodka/Gin, Champagne, Demerara Syrup, Lemon. The name of this cocktail derives from the rumored tunnels that ran between Dunnigan’s and the courthouse!
The Bee’s Knees: Gin/Bourbon, Locally Sourced Honey Syrup, Lemon. This drink was made popular during the 1920s!
Scott’s Giggle Water: Vodka/Tequila, Fresh Blueberry, Artisan Basil Syrup, Club. “Scott’s Old Fields” was the original name for the Town of Bel Air, and “giggle water” was a slang term for alcohol during Prohibition.
Murder on the Midnight Espresso: Vodka, Liqor de Cafe, Premium Cold Brew Coffee. This pays homage to Agatha Christie’s novel “Murder on the Orient Express,” which was published and takes place in the 1930s.
2024 Details TBD