Themed parties aren’t just for Halloween anymore. Whether you’re in the mood to cuddle up in a coffin, confess with spiritual sangria and a ping-pong paddle in hand or hide out from the brain-eating Apocalypse—there’s a bar to suit your drinking style. We had to grow a ‘stache, sing Kum-ba-ya around a fire and mingle with mermaids, but it was all worth it in pursuit of the nation’s most insanely bizarre themed bars.
That said, we’re gonna need a Zombie cocktail with a side of seriously spiked eggnog.
Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium
There’s usually absolutely no drinking in allowed in church, unless you’re hanging out in this nutty pseudo-religious bar near a bunch of churches in the Old Fourth Ward. Grab a glass of Spiritual Sangria and peruse the sanctimonious gallery of artwork—stereotypical religious images with irreverent captions—like the one of the Virgin Mary that says, “Who’s Your Daddy?” Unless it’s Wednesday night for organ karaoke, you can tap into your higher power any other night at the confessional photo booth. Even if you’re not feeling so holy, there are always ping-pong tables for some good ol’ flagellation.
The Kalamazoo Beer Exchange
Channel DiCaprio’s character in The Wolf of Wall Street to cash in on cheap beer. Prices oscillate just like the stock exchange, so make sure to watch the huge screen displaying all 28 beers on tap to nab your deal. To boot, there’s occasional market crashes to keep the happy hour that much happier.
Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den
Sometimes it’s just nice to know there’s a place to hide out when the Night of the Living Dead becomes a reality. Bartenders are dressed as Shaun of the Dead-style zombie hunters, and emergency weapons, like chainsaws, are readily available in glass cases. Zombie taxidermy adorn the walls and plenty of zombie-repellant in boozy liquid form abounds (usually served in goblets).
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL
The Wreck Bar
One of America’s few porthole lounges remaining, The Wreck Bar, inside the B Ocean Resort, is nautically decorated with thick hemp ropes, polished driftwood and brass ship lanterns. On Fridays and Saturdays at 6:30 pm, show up early to snag a front row view of the bar’s ‘windows’ with the watery views. Order up a tropical drink and settle in for mermaid in a shell-bikini top and flowing hair to float. During the holidays, the mermaids get festive… performing in Halloween costumes and Christmas-themed outfits.
LOS ANGELES, CA
Big Foot Lodge
Going on nearly 18 years, Big Foot Lodge was one of Los Angeles’ very first themed bars—and now the city has two (the original eastside in Atwater Village and second outpost on the west side in Culver City). Enter the log cabin adorned with National Park signage and taxidermy and prepare yourself for a flood of summer camp flashbacks. Need to take the edge off that awkward trip down memory lane? Order up the Girl Scouts Thin Mints or Toasted Marshmallow cocktail (non-themed cocktails are stellar as well). Plus, there’s plenty of kitsch fun to be had most nights, from trivia to live music.
The Lovecraft Bar
Fans of the dark side, rejoice. This bar is one big mausoleum to H.P. Lovecraft—an early 20th century horror writer—and his terrifying alien characters. But just because it has macabre elements, like a real coffin and severed doll heads, doesn’t mean it’s somber. When the alternative dance party isn’t on, Lovecraft is home to burlesque, performance art, tarot readings and more. You can channel the undead spirits with a cocktail, but there’s a surprisingly civilized tea menu as well.
In the hipster capital of the South, it’s no surprise there’s a beard bar. Bartenders with perfectly pommade-ed facial hair shake up cocktails named after mustachioed celebrities, like Magnum P.I., Charlie Chaplin, Salvador Dali and even a token woman (hint: hottest hairy-upper lip Mexican artist ever). Make sure to look around — plenty of manly portraits sporting handsome handlebars adorn the walls—including a disturbing nudie of Burt Reynolds. Even if you’ve fantasized about facial hair but never grow your own, there’s a photo booth complete with mustache props to realize those dreams.
This D.C. bar is designed to make you feel like you’re drinking inside a pinball machine. Is that a good thing? We’re not sure—especially if you’re on your third Martini. The bar, with no actual pinball machines to play, is fashioned from the back glass of pinball machines (including a Playboy one), a variety of flashing lights, and tables that look like bumpers. Try out the PNBL WZRD—a riff on PB&J with peanut butter-washed vodka topped with red wine or the Pin Head made with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Cocchi Rosa, maraschino cherries and orange bitters.
Ever wondered what having a drink with Ol’ St. Nick would be like? Well, in this Santa-themed dive bar comprised of several festive-looking trailers in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood, you can live out that fantasy. Owner Elmer Denzel “Santa” Irwin looks just as like the world’s most famous jolly dude with a Southern twist (he swaps the stocking cap out for a cowboy hat). Just remember, he knows when you’ve been nice and not so nice—so don’t BS Santa Elmer when you meet him.