The Whisky Room of the Cantiere Gallery

And the secrets of the American Prohibition speakeasies

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
The secret Whiskey Room of the Cantiere Gallery — Veneto Secrets

At the Cantiere Art District in Treviso, in collaboration with the Whisky Club Italia, a new "secret room" is born, the Whisky Room, inspired by American Prohibition and dedicated to all those who wish to enjoy a good drink in total privacy.

Designed by the Creative Director of the Cantiere Gallery and artist Paolo Socal, the new secret room is inspired by the history of Whisky and in particular by the legendary speakeasies of the turn of the century.

The 18th Amendment, or Volstead Act, the law that initiates the period of Prohibition, goes into effect in January 1920, banning the production, sale, import, and transportation of alcohol throughout the United States. A real revolution that for 13 years, until its repeal in 1933, will profoundly change the life, not only of Americans, but also of all of us. But how did such an extreme decision come about?

The secret Whiskey Room of the Cantiere Gallery — Veneto Secrets

The Whisky Room is open every evening for tastings based on special spirits selected by the Whisky Club Italia or a drink artfully mixed by the Cantiere’s bartenders.

(Davide Vanin, founder)

Even if the prohibitionist movements were present in the United States since the nation’s foundation, driven above all by religious and female associations that saw in the dramatic spread of alcohol abuse the reason for the ruin of many families and the absenteeism in factories, as often happens, the real reason for a political decision must also be sought, or above all, in a strong economic interest.

It is, in fact, the First World War – the USA entered the war against Germany in 1917 – that made Congress lean towards the reasons of the “dry”, the prohibitionists, over the “wet”, those who were against this proposal of law. The discussion of the 18th amendment began in the legislative body in January 1917 prompted by various reasons in support of the American war effort. In fact, it was a question of saving grain and cereals, necessary in large quantities for the production of spirits, in favor of internal consumption for the soldiers and the population, and, above all, of stemming the voice of Americans of German origin (the second most widespread ethnic group in the country) who opposed the war, and who, given the interests in beer production, were part of the “wet”.

The secret Whiskey Room of the Cantiere Gallery — Veneto Secrets
The secret Whiskey Room of the Cantiere Gallery — Veneto Secrets

Such a social revolution was almost impossible to enforce: the new law led, in fact, to easy money for gangsters and smuggling companies, so much so that in a few years in New York alone there were tens of thousands of illegal bars. Among the various types, the most successful were the speakeasies, so-called as, unlike saloons and other places, here you had to speak low in order not to attract the attention of those who could report them.

The birth of these small bars, which inspired the Whisky Room of the Cantiere, is not the only cultural legacy that the Volstead Act has brought into today’s world. The production of low-cost alcoholic beverages, to be diluted with sugary drinks or juices so as not to perceive the bad quality, as well as the need to save alcohol, gave rise to a different consumption of cocktails that had to mask the spirit’s use or to improve its taste such as, for example, the famous Long Island Iced Tea. Even Coca-Cola owes much of its success to Prohibition as its consumption during this period was almost quadrupled and, who knows, maybe without this chapter of history even Santa Claus would be different from how we know him today!

The secret Whiskey Room of the Cantiere Gallery — Veneto Secrets

The Secret Room is open every evening from 9 pm for a tasting or a drink artfully mixed by the Cantiere’s bartenders. And for true Whisky lovers, the appointment is at the end of October in Treviso for the Whiskey Week, an opportunity to try the best shots from Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Japan and Italy selected by the Whiskey Club Italia.

For further info

Il Cantiere Art District
Whisky Club Italia

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