ITHACA, N.Y. – You’ll have to use the Tompkins County Public Library’s “secret door” for entrance to this juice joint. For one night in October, the library will transform into a 1920s speakeasy with music, craft cocktails, treats and games from the era.

The new, jazzy nighttime event is a fundraiser for the library. Guests are encouraged to go all-out with costumes that might have been spotted in underground bars and will have to enter through the library’s “secret door” – or the side door behind the bus shelter.

“It’s really fun,” Kerry Barnes, assistant director of the TCPL Foundation, said. “There’s so much more to the decade than what we know on the surface.”

It will probably come as no surprise that organizers behind the library’s fundraiser have done their homework to make the event accurate to the era. In researching, Barnes said one of the things they were surprised to learn is that many of the candies that are classics today like Butterfinger and Milky Way got their start in the 1920s.

Speakeasies were illegal bars during the Prohibition era between 1920 and 1933 and were often held in basements or attics, or in the back of other businesses like cafes or pharmacies. So it’s not too much of a stretch, Barnes said, for a speakeasy to pop up in a library after-hours.

As the event states, “This ain’t no clip joint; we’re raising cabbage for the Library, so bring plenty of jack!” Translation: All proceeds will benefit programs at the Tompkins County Public Library. There will be a silent auction with some fun local activities up for grabs, like a personal Cornell Chimes concert, a breadmaking class from Wide Awake Bakery, lessons from The Clay School and the Metalsmithery, and more.

There will be a cash bar by Bar Argos, dessert from Serendipity Catering, music by members of the Ithaca New Music Collective and a silent film from their producing partner, Wharton Studio Museum.

The event will go from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, and is 18-plus. Tickets are $30 and include a drink and game ticket.

For more information, click here.

Featured image: Establishment Serving Alcohol During Prohibition/Wisconsin Historical Society1920/1930

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.