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1920's Speakeasy Party - Need Heavy App Ideas

My husband and I are hosting a 1920's Speakeasy party next month and we're in need of some appetizer ideas. It doesn't necessarily have to be period, but a couple items would be nice. ..Even if it's something modern plated in a "1920's" way. We just want to have fun with it! :) Any ideas?

PS - We're hosting about 40 people, so make ahead or easy to prepare items are encouraged. Also, in traditional 1920's fashion there will be LOTS of alcohol involved :)

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  1. I pulled out my Spetember 1999 issue of Bon Appetit where the theme of the issue was "The American Century in Food."

    Here are some food items that came out in the 1920s:
    Baby Ruth (1920)
    Oh Henry! (1920s)
    Wonder Bread (21920)
    Quaker quick cooking oats (1921)
    Charleston Chew (1922)
    Mounds Bar (1922)
    Almond Roca (1923)
    Milky Way (1923)
    Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (1923)
    Sanka decaf coffee (1923)
    Welch's grape jelly (1923)
    Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink (1923)
    BitOHoney (1924)
    Popsicles (1924)
    Wheaties (1924)
    Mr Goodbar (1925)
    Hormel canned ham (1924)
    Milk Duds (1926)
    Hostess Cakes (1927)
    Kool-Aid (1927)
    Butterfinger (1928)
    Peter Pan Peanut Butter (1928)
    Rice Krispies (1928)
    Velveeta (1928)
    Lithiated Lemonade (precursor to 7UP) (1929
    Ruby Red Grapefruit (1929)

    All that sugar kind of explains the Charleston.... I guess if you couldn't get drunk you could at least get cracked out on sugar.

    The recipes include:
    Caesar Dip with Crudites (and has the story behind Casear salad which this says was invented in 1924)

    Roasted Clams with Pancetta and Red Bell Pepper Coulis (a lighter version of Clams Casino, which was all over menus in the 20s)

    Sangria Jello Salad (with gelatin invented in the 1890s and electric refrigeration being more common by the 20s, Jello was apparently popular

    Spagetti with Sicilian meatballs

    Citrus Cheesecake with Marmalade Glaze

    Chocolate Layer Cake with Rocky Road frosting

    If any off those are of interest, let me know and I'll type them up. It sounds like a fun theme!

    2 Replies
    1. re: weezieduzzit

      <All that sugar kind of explains the Charleston.... I guess if you couldn't get drunk you could at least get cracked out on sugar.>

      You are funny! Thanks for typing up that list...so interesting to see what came out that decade!

      1. re: weezieduzzit

        I just wanted to thank you for this list. I'm buying some gift boxes from Oriental Trading and making some goodie bags with the candies listed :)

      2. If you're willing to lean into the 30s, there's a recipe for goat cheese and watercress tea sandwiches or baked artichokes with crab and sourdough stuffing. I also have a 1933 cookbook if you need more ideas.

          1. Thanks everyone! What about some easy/nice ideas that aren't necessarily 1920's era? My husband suggested maybe tenderloin or some kind of hot dip...

            4 Replies
            1. re: krisrishere

              Tenderloin on crostini is classic and I think one of the easiest things to serve. But it's lux, at least to me.
              Serve with a horseradish sauce and you're good to go on that one.

              1. re: monavano

                That was one of my thoughts too. Sear it off, finish it in the oven and slice before the guests come..

              2. re: krisrishere

                There was a great recipe for Liptauer dip/spread in the NY Times a few years back that goes well with vodka. It's the wrong era, but still retro and cool. Definitely a conversation starter! http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/26/din...

                1. re: krisrishere

                  Also any classic oyster/clam app like oysters Rockefeller or clams casino would be great--also easy to make in batches for a party as long as everything's prepped.

                  1. re: Gail

                    I think I've looked at every 1920's party site on the internet. Nothing really piqued my interest :)

                  2. For some reason I was thinking lamb. Maybe get a few full racks, cook to medium rare and then serve sliced into the chops with a dipping sauce?

                    1. I did a similar menu for a client 7 years ago, this is what we served:

                      Smoked Salmon Roses with Dill on Rye Crostini
                      Petite Chicken Cordon Bleu
                      Mini Beef Wellingtons
                      Lemon-Herb Chicken Drummettes
                      Escargot en Brioche: Mini brioche shells filled with Succulent Escargot,
                      Garlic and Butter

                      Carving Station
                      Roast Loin of Veal Filled with Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Ricotta and Pine Nuts
                      Roast Loin of Pork Filled with Harvest Fruits, served with Calvados Sauce
                      Carved on station, with Assorted Petite Rolls

                      Smashed Potato Bar: Toppings to include Chili, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Chives, Sour Cream and Sweet Butter, Served in Martini Glasses

                      Deluxe Import and Domestic Cheese Display
                      Deluxe Crudités Assortment
                      Assorted Mini Cheesecakes and Tartlets

                      1. I think you were going just for appetizers, so I'll limit myself to that.
                        Hemingway's A Moveable Feast is *very* about food, and though it's Paris-centered, it fits your theme.

                        He talks a lot about sausages (all kinds from kielbasa type to salami type), hardcooked/deviled eggs, grilled sardines/shrimp, small plates of german potato salad, roasted (though you could broil) chicken wings. Roasted salted nuts were also ubiquitous.

                        For American, go Gatsby. Fitzgerald writes that Gatsby served baked hams (spiral cut honeybaked ham is sure to please), and at another event, lemon scones are served. A savory scone might work well.

                        1. Ham for sure, maybe stuffed in cheddar biscuits.

                          3 Replies
                            1. re: krisrishere

                              Yes! So good and so easy that it has been a part of almost any buffet/reception in my neck of the woods* since forever -- it was a must-serve here in the 1920s, too. Along with tomato aspic.

                              *western Virginia; the ham is the very salty, dark country ham that is best served in small portions to begin with. For a local crowd, I'd be reluctant to cheddar-ize or otherwise change the biscuits. But for your 23-skiddoo-ers-for-a-night, go for it...

                              1. re: ellabee

                                I'm in Norfolk so I can pick up some Smithfield or the like :)

                          1. How about angels on horseback or devils on horseback...chicken livers w/ waterchestnut wrapped in bacon, the other prunes wrapped in bacon. Pretty sure those are vintage nibbles. And I remember the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's favorite were buttery ritz-like crackers wrapped in bacon and broiled.