From 2013 through 2017, I wrote an annual Halloween article for Alcohol Professor about haunted bars or adjacent drinking and carousing. I don’t have anything new this year — between finalizing Cocktails and Capers and day-to-day work, I just couldn’t think of a fresh angle — but in lieu of a freshly dug grave, I thought I’d resurrect the previous five year’s of articles to provide a haunted tour of some of the world’s most famous haunted bars, spooky spirits, and spine-chilling literary libations.
New York City is home to some eight million souls — many more if you count those not currently associated with a body. The city has more than its fair share of ghosts and haunted houses, from former showgirl Olive Thomas at the New Amsterdam Theater to Mark Twain and the “House of Death” on 10th Street in the West Village. But my heart has always been with the ghosts who eschewed theater catwalks and quaint townhouses and chose to spend eternity drifting around their favorite bar, tavern, or saloon. From flirty sailors to cranky US vice presidents, these haunted New York bars can serve you a solid pint and possibly a spooky encounter.
‘Twas a year ago, on a night just like this, that we first gathered around the campfire for macabre tales of spirits most spirited and ghosts who still haunt the bars of New York City. This time, foolish mortals, we’re taking our ghostly guzzling international and visiting some of the most famously haunted pubs around the world. So pour yourself a stiff drink…and perhaps another for the stiff lurking in the cellar!
This year marks a special edition of Boooo-zy Tales, because we’re bringing it to you live – or are we – from Dublin, Ireland. Like every big town in Europe, Dublin is one of the most haunted. And like many pubs in that part of the world, many of Dublin’s pubs are haunted by former customers for whom death is no excuse for not popping in for a quick pint. Most of its most haunted pubs are also its most famous and crowded, so you might have to really concentrate to get in the spirit of things. This time, our ghostly bon vivants include Irish writers, Irish rebels, and of course, the terrifying tale of the brothel madam and the Satanist who accused her of witchcraft – when in reality, she was just a serial killer.
My world now is shrunk, consisting of nothing more than this room and the grim hotel cocktail lounge. I assume my place at the end of the bar and am, by and by, joined by a few other damned souls who have found their way to this forlorn place from which it seems impossible to leave. A quartet of impossibly ancient musicians sets up nightly in a corner and stumbles its way through “Moonglow” and “Moonlight Serenade.” I bring with me on these nightly pilgrimages a book. A different one each night for though I have little to my name now I am fortunate to have a cache of old novels. Horror, fittingly. Tales of the macabre and the mad. Each night I raise a glass to them, something properly tied to the author or the tale itself.
There are few places in America better suited for conjuring the spirit of Halloween than the Hudson Valley. And really, given the traffic between the city and Sleepy Hollow, one scarcely gets there any quicker than would Ichabod Crane traveling by horse. Despite that, once you depart the interstate and wander off along the smaller roads, it’s really easy to lose oneself amid the trees, country lanes, and delightfully spooky fall atmosphere. This is the birthplace of the American ghost story, and the final home of the father of those ghost stories, Washington Irving, whose most famous tale lent its name to north Tarrytown — now known as Sleepy Hollow. So saddle up your horse, arm yourself with a charm against curses (apple brandy should do nicely), and join us as we take a ride across the covered bridge into haunted Tarrytown for another evening of booooo-zy tales.