Horsham care home residents get into the spirit with pop-up speakeasy

Residents at a care home in Horsham, in West Sussex, enjoyed their favourite beverages at a pop-up 1920s speakeasy hosted by a local cocktail bar.

For one night only, residents at Care UK’s Skylark House, on St Mark’s Lane, were invited to the home’s cinema which had been secretly transformed into a traditional 1920s speakeasy-style bar.

To the surprise of the residents, team members dressed in 1920s-inspired outfits and candles adorned the room to recreate the speakeasy style, which was later named by residents as ‘The Skylark Speakeasy’.

Keen to provide residents with a realistic experience, team members thought it was worth a shot to reach out to local experts. Crawley’s popular cocktail establishment, Octopvs Bar, was more than keen to get into the party spirit with bartenders, Gabriele and Daniele, showcasing their bartending skills to create famous cocktails, including Singapore Slings, Cosmopolitans, and Brandy Alexanders for the residents to enjoy.

As residents enjoyed their drinks, the bartenders explained the origins of speakeasy bars and the different ingredients which make up each cocktail. Alongside 1920s music, residents were also encouraged to reminisce about memorable bars and special evenings out and discuss their favourite drinks.

Speakeasy bars began in America in the 1920s following the constitutional ban on the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. To enjoy an alcoholic drink, small community groups created hidden out of sign bars and relied on word-of-mouth to encourage customers.

Research carried out by the UK’s leading care home reviews site, carehome.co.uk, found care home pubs to be a great mood enhancer, with 53 per cent of care home teams who have pubs in their care homes saying the wellbeing of residents was boosted when they socialised in the home’s pub or drinking facility.

For resident, Don, who was celebrating his 75th birthday, the pop-up bar was an added bonus to his birthday celebrations. Commenting on the evening, Don said: “I wasn’t expecting this - what a lovely surprise.”

Dorota Woloszyn, home manager at Skylark House, said: “Call me old-fashioned, but there’s nothing like catching up with friends over a drink or two - especially when there are cocktails involved.

“It was a real team effort in organising and decorating The Skylark Speakeasy and keeping it a surprise from residents. Seeing the reactions of the residents made it all worthwhile and I want to say a big thank you to our friends at Octopvs Bar for providing such a memorable and enjoyable evening - and some fabulous, tasty cocktails.

“For many residents, a visit to a bar or pub is associated with happy memories from their younger years, from going out with friends, to pub quizzes and family Sunday lunches. It was lovely to see the residents socialising and enjoying a drink together and we look forward to creating more memorable experiences like this again very soon.”