Meet the Ladies Behind the Boozy Prohibition Bakery
Oysters and Champagne, tacos and tequila, port and cheese -- when it comes to food and drink, some pairings are unbeatable. When Prohibition Bakery (9 Clinton Street, 646-596-8294) owners Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem opened doors to their Lower East Side brick and mortar in June of 2011, they added their own contribution to this list: cupcakes and booze. "Leslie and I never had a grand plan to open up a boozy cupcake shop," Siem explains. "We just started baking and drinking in my apartment to pass the time, and it grew organically from there."
Here, the duo chats about how the Cosmo started it all, whaand how they "respect the booze," and what they're pouring themselves mid-bake shift.
Where are you from originally?
Feinberg: I was born in Elmira, New York, best known for it's glamorous prison. I grew up in Sarasota, Florida, which is a gorgeous beach town and about as far from Elmira (culturally speaking) as you can get.
Siem: I'm originally from Reno, Nevada. If you've ever been there, you know why I left.
How did you two decide to open the bakery together?
Siem: I've worked in the food and wine industry for the entirety of my career. At one point, I tried to find a job outside of the industry, and found I was literally qualified for nothing. That was the point where I decided I may as well go forward with the boozy cupcake idea, because I could no longer work as a professional chef due to a back injury, and no one else was going to hire me. By the time we opened our front door, we had no idea if we would be able to sell enough to pay rent, let alone feed ourselves.
Feinberg: I moved to New York for college, stayed to pursue a career in publishing, and then transitioned into bartending after getting laid off. Brooke and I met on a trip; we were both bored and under-employed, and had jobs (or lack thereof) that allowed us to get drunk (and bake) on a Wednesday night. We thought this would be a fun way to make some extra cash. Hilarious to think about that now.
Why boozy cupcakes?
Feinberg: Because it's New York's two favorite things, and because it's fun and playful while still being sophisticated. And because the format of a cupcake is ideal for translating cocktails. We generally treat the cake as the mixer, and then the frosting and our signature boozy core bring the booze.
Siem: The idea was born from a cosmo cake. It became clear very quickly that cupcakes would be easier. Not long after that, we ditched full sized cupcakes for mini ones. Cakes have three components -- cake, filling, and frosting, so the cupcakes did too. Also, cupcakes don't taste like anything unless you make them taste like something, which means you can effectively do anything with them (almost).
What was your very first flavor, and what inspired it?
Siem: The cosmo. If I remember correctly, I believe I made the cake and had leftover batter so I made a few cupcakes as well. That's when I filled it with cranberry/vodka, and Leslie told me to use triple sec as the frosting. Voila! Cosmo cupcake...that we immediately ditched.