If you’ve spent any time around a toddler—or teenager—you likely know that the best way to get them to do something is to insist upon the exact opposite.
That’s the exact philosophy adopted by a significant portion of the population during the Prohibition era, which extended from 1920 to 1933. Rather than eliminate alcohol from the culture, as the legislation intended, it drove the practice underground. Literally, in many cases.
One such case: The Commodore Bar & Hotel. This St. Paul landmark originally opened in 1920, the same year Prohibition went into effect. According to reasonably verifiable local legend, a speakeasy operated in the basement of the hotel.
This space was reportedly frequented by a who’s who of St. Paul society, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda (who lived in the hotel upstairs). It also attracted some notorious out-of-towners, including members of murderous matriarch Ma Barker’s gang, and possibly even Al Capone himself.
We certainly don’t condone illegal activity, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy hearing tales of the Commodore’s nefarious roots. If these walls could talk—well, they’d probably keep their mouths shut due to 90-year-old threats of gangster retribution.
Once Prohibition ended, the Commodore opened an above-ground (and legal, this time) bar with stunning Art Deco detail. It thrived as a hotspot that exemplified the joie de vivre of the jazz era.
Today, the bar and accompanying restaurant have been painstakingly restored. The bar features original design elements and the whole space evokes throwback glitz and glamour. Join us for a crafted cocktail so good it should probably still be illegal.