It’s the roaring ’20s – in Jersey.
Two months in the past, annoyed whiskey lover Philip Alongi might see that his 800-bottle assortment of bourbon, scotch and rye was spilling over. And, with three more and more curious youngsters underneath 5 at residence, he knew that he wanted to discover a safer storage answer for his non-public inventory quick.
Then a snootful of inspiration flashed: his quintessential suburban basement in Westfield, NJ – a “dungeon” studded with laundry accoutrements, cobwebs and an previous boxing bag – was the proper bling tiger.
“I used to be actually simply looking for a spot the place I can cover the products from my three little monsters — one thing discreet and safe, like a speakeasy,” stated Alongi, 41, a information veteran, two-time Emmy Award winner and beginner opera singer, who runs a manufacturing TV firm. “I figured what higher time than now whereas I’m trapped at residence?”
Along with his spouse’s blessing, Alongi rolled up his sleeves and joined the ranks of the nation’s pandemic residence enchancment hobbyists. He started to design and construct a Prohibition-inspired bar within the 22-by-13 room with a “Nineteen Twenties speakeasy really feel,” he stated.
Counting on images of his favourite whiskey bars and drawing on his personal experiences at dozens of tasting rooms he visited in Scotland, Alongi started to conjure up an area genuine sufficient to move any Twenty first-century hooch hound again to the rat-a-tat-tat previous days.
However the all-consuming mission was no simple sip. Alongi toiled for 3 hours each single day over six weeks to comprehend his dream hideaway.
“I simply bought obsessed,” he stated. “And there’s actually nothing else to do.”
He sourced lumber down on the Jersey Shore, driving residence on the parkway with an 8 ½-foot golden cedar slab that he someway shoved into his minivan. He sanded that piece down 100 occasions and meticulously scraped the bark to create the reside fringe of his new bar.
The subterranean room now boasts a 20-foot-long wall lined with 5 cabinets of scotch, in addition to 12 ft of built-in cupboards that home his bourbons, ryes and worldwide whiskies (together with Japanese, Irish, Taiwanese and Indian varieties) together with his cherished bottle of Craigellachie 33, value $3,000.
Charming touches embrace a tin ceiling, tufted velvet couches in deep shades, backlit stained glass, framed images from his final journey to Scotland and a lion’s head door knocker and peep door.
The outcome: a swanky speakeasy that might simply cross for a flowery members-only membership.
“I needed to construct it, in any other case I wouldn’t have the ability to expertise it,” he stated, including that the mission solely set him again about $6,000. “This mission has been nice for each my bodily and psychological well being and is a vibrant spot in an in any other case bleak time.”
Now, Alongi added that he’s discovering all kinds of excuses to spend time downstairs.
“I attempt to do as a lot of my Zoom conferences as potential down there,” he stated, including that purchasers assume it’s a digital background. “They are saying, ‘Is that actual?’ I bought extra [Facebook] likes on this than when my youngsters have been born.”
The mission has even impressed him to start out a brand new custom.
“Each time I open a brand new bottle, I seal the primary two ounces into a lab vial,” he stated. “They function each a time capsule of whiskies I’ve tried, but additionally are designed to be opened and shared with my youngsters once they attain the suitable age.”
The proud dad identified that his 5-year-old daughter is already a bit of whiskey lover within the making. When the mission was accomplished, she pointed to the racks of bottles and defined to her youthful siblings: “These are mine once I develop up.”
Naturally, thirsty associates are dying to go to. However, at the very least for now, Alongi isn’t letting simply anyone down a dram in his speakeasy.
“They’ll want the key password,” he stated.