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Bury St Edmunds bar, The Secret Distillery, recreates atmosphere of illicit 1920s Prohibition era speakeasy





A new ‘secret’ bar has launched recreating the atmosphere of a 1920s ‘illegal’ speakeasy.

The Secret Distillery opened on Saturday evening at 3 Short Brackland, Bury St Edmunds.

Tucked away – and off the beaten track – the bar recreates the atmosphere of a 1920s speakeasy, where alcoholic drinks were sold illegally in the United States during the Prohibition era.

Ryan Luke and Tom Mills at The Secret Distillery, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Ryan Luke and Tom Mills at The Secret Distillery, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

“We have 1920s jazz playing, low lighting, a copper bar and fittings and high top tables,” said one of the owners, Ryan Luke.

“It really suits the location in Short Brackland and works well.

“The feedback on Saturday was great with the opening very well supported by people from the town.

“We’re are holding a quiz night on Thursday, and on Saturday, our first Secret Supper Club, with small plates.

“At the opening we had nine different styles of cocktails and seven mocktails, which are alcohol free.

“That’s alongside beers, cider and wine from local producers, we like to stock.”

The Secret Distillery is the second bar to be launched by Bacton-based gin distillery, Heart of Suffolk.

Ryan Luke and Tom Mills at The Secret Distillery, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Ryan Luke and Tom Mills at The Secret Distillery, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

The distillery is run by Ryan Luke and Tom Mills and has gone from strength-to-strength since launch in 2018.

It now produces three award-winning London dry gins: Betty's, Rosie's and Ivy's alongside limited edition liqueurs.

The business has also grown from its original distillery in Finbow’s Yard, Stowmarket, to include a shop, events space and production unit.

Heart of Suffolk also recently held a drinks festival at the Unitarian Meeting House featuring its products as well as those of six other local breweries and distilleries.

The two bosses are keen to help other businesses through events and collaborations.

The Secret Distillery is at the site of the former St Distillery bar.

Last year, Heart of Suffolk also launched wine bar, Langams, as part of a joint collaboration with a former café, in Stowmarket.

The Secret Distillery also serves drinks from local producers including Humber Doucy Brewing Company, Ampersand, Suffolk Village Ciders, Herbarium, Scobby’s and Vino Gusto.

The term speakeasy originated because of the need to talk quietly, ‘speak easy’, or even whisper, about an illegal bar location during the 1920s Prohibition era.

The retro feel is still popular today.

The Secret Distillery is open Thursday and Friday evenings, Saturday 12pm to 11pm and Sunday 12pm- 6pm.

It also has a shop where people can buy Heart of Suffolk spirits.