As the weather begins to cool a bit and with the not-so-subtle return of pumpkin spice, we can all agree that spooky season is just around the corner—and if you enjoy a scary good time, a limited-time pop-up bar in Bradenton is just the event for you.
The Be Afraid of the Dark Pop-Up Bar, also known as the Haunted Tavern, is a product of Rock Star Beer Festivals. A national event company led by Ryan Wieczorek, Rock Star focused on beer and music events in its early days, but, as it has grown in aspirations and size, has shifted its focus to spooky cocktail parties.
The Bradenton event is an interactive four-part cocktail experience that draws from unsettling lore beloved by horror fanatics—in particular, the world of Ichabod Crane and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
Starting Thursday, Sept. 9, and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 11, the pop-up will take place at the Urban Loft, 515 Ninth St. E., Suite 201, Bradenton, said to be one of the most haunted landmarks in all of Florida.
You may be thinking that the Haunted Tavern sounds like just another haunted house with a bar, but that’s where you’re wrong. The unique edge of this event is that, instead of using cheesy Halloween masks, the organizers go for brilliantly painted makeup, along with audio frequencies that trigger a sense of dread within attendees.
A blend of theatrical prowess, a haunted house and a night at the bar with your buddies, the Haunted Tavern was designed to leave you frightened by the spectacular costume design and buzzed by the carefully crafted cocktails, all made in-house for the occasion.
The Haunted Tavern concept has gained traction since it started a couple years ago, and Rock Star plans to bring the event to a number of cities around the country. The company is also looking to launch longer-term residencies in places like Tampa and Nashville, which would allow the Haunted Tavern team to "up the decoration, atmosphere and fright, providing a higher-quality show," says Wieczorek.
“We wanted to bring it city to city to get in front of a wider audience,” says Wieczorek. “As we continue to grow, we’re figuring out our next steps as to what we want to do with the brand to take the pop-up to a show level. The start was just as a speakeasy, so we only were in front of about 40 people, but the more cities we can get to, the more people we can get to and the bigger the brand can get. Then we want to come back to these same cities with a different idea and with new cocktails or maybe turn what we’re doing into a TV show or even a movie. The sky’s the limit.”