The Owl Bar was the hottest and sassiest spot in town. Robust but romantic, crowded but comfortable, kick-ass but friendly. Fun flowed, times were good, and the non-stop partying lasted for seventeen years. The came the "Ban of the Booze." Prohibition, the noble experiment, had reared it's ugly head. Americans were having too much fun and needed to be "saved from themselves". Booze- "The root of all evils" -had to go.
For years Prohibition had been smouldering and popping up around the country-- county bt county, state by state-- and finally in 1920 it swept across the country and became a national ban. That was the bad news for the party-goers. The good news was that prohibition with all of its proggish intentions did not work. Americans with their robust thirst, dogged determination, ingenuity and lust for good times would not tolerate such imposition and foolishness. Booze are still available beyond both borders, Mexico and Canada, so bootleegers smuggled it across and into the states.
Illegal stills popped up with increased frequency around the country; subsequently, the "Speakeasy" was born. In a speakeasy you could find and do almost any sinful thing. Buy booze, play the numbers, engage and escort, and hoot it up all day and all night. It was life in the fast lane for speed-lovers. New York had the Cotton Club, Chicago had Jon Barleycorn and Baltimore had the Owl Bar. Speakeasies were everywhere, numbering in the thousands during Prohibition. A common beast heard often on many city streets was "you can't get drunk in this town unless you walk ten feet in any direction." For thirteen years Prohibition made the selling of booze illegal. But you could buy it at Owl Bar, right here in the Belvedere.
The Owl Bar became a hugely popular stop for travellers, especially those going by train from New York to Miami. They would stop in Baltimore, spend a few days at the Belvedere, and visit the Wise Old Owl. The key was knowing exactly when the illegal products and services were available and how to behave to avoid getting caught. That's where the wisdom of the owl came to the rescue and quenched the thirst. He imparted an excoded message that was clear to all of the in-the-know regulars. "The wise old owl sat on an owk, the more the saw, the less he spoke, the less he spoke, the more he heard." Patrons did not speak of booze, bokies, or other illegal products and services. They simply looked to the Owl for devious and "spirits-ual" guidance. If the eye was blinking, it meant that the shipment had made it; the feds weren't around; and it was sage to party. When the eyes were straight ahead (not blinking), "the wise old owl" sat on his barstool, spoke less and heard more. The ugly alternative was getting busted.
Even Prohibition could not dim the lights and the nights at the Owl Bar. Over one hundred years later we're still here; still parting; and still the spot to spot. Looking for a place that's always been cool to hang out? Whatever you're looking for is probably here, maybe just over there. If not today, then tomorrow. So, come on back. Our drinks are always tall; our burgers are always thick; and our smiles are always wide.