In the mystery I’ve just started, two of my characters go into a speakeasy in Chicago in 1924 and order martinis. I wondered how much this would cost. Details like that enrich the writing and give readers a greater sense of the time and place. So I started investigating. And EUREKA! I found this price list from a Chicago speakeasy, dating from the mid-1920s. Perfect!
So this is what I wrote:
A haze of smoke hung over the place like thick fog on a fall morning. It shrouded the piano man and the young colored woman who stood beside him singing I Wish I Could Shimmy Like my Sister Kate. Her warm, throaty voice caressed the notes like a lover. Freddie and I sidled up to the crowded bar and ordered martinis. We surveyed the joint as we waited for the bartender to deliver.
Two long wooden bars divided the room. Two bartenders worked between them, serving customers from both sides. On our side a dozen café tables, each with two chairs, formed an arc around the musicians. The opposite side was busier, with card tables ringed with gamblers. No one was paying much attention to the music, which was a shame. That girl was good.
The martinis arrived. Freddie put three quarters on the counter. “Keep the change.”