For the second autumn in a row, 213 Nightlife is transforming seven of its Downtown bars into haunted dens of debauchery, each bearing their own different spooky themes and signature punches, offered this Saturday evening for trick-or-treaters of legal drinking age. At Cole's, where undead bartenders ladle a red fifties-era Champagne punch with Templeton rye, tropical fruit and Pernod called "Peggy Sue Got Buried" from a bowl of plastic eyeballs and gummy worms, you'll find the aftermath of a "Enchantment Under the Sea" prom gone gorily wrong. Further west, Caña Rum Bar ups that ante with its own champagne-spiked punch and a blood-curdling riff on Carrie that may actually scare you once you're alone in the bathroom and faced with the arterial red writing on the wall.
Last night, 213 ferried a brave brood of food and drink writers through these seven circles of carousal. With bartender BC Hoffman in tow (getting away with whatever a carnage-covered zombie in a hospital gown possibly can in public) the assembled monster squad came on the scene to elect the best punches and scariest themes being offered.
Now, these aren't six-figure mazes like the ones you'll find encircling Universal Studios or Knott's, but efforts culled together on simple budgets by the staff at each bar, recalling the homegrown appeal of yesteryear's haunted houses as arranged by The Jaycees and Girl Scouts, with a high level of spirit filling in for the lack of major motion picture funding and special effects.
Still, the bars make the most of what they have. Las Perlas, 213's agave hub, traces its roots into a Dia de los Muertos theme to showcase a bowl of deep orange punch blending mezcal, rye, and brandy ringed with red and yellow marigolds, recalling a holiday altar for the dead and floating an apricot-brandy foam.
Tony's Saloon makes up for a fairly lo-fi zombie truck stop theme with a labor-intensive Irish cream hot coffee that packs a blazing peck of peppers into a toddy glass, savory grilled green heat seething with the intensity of jalapenos and finishing on a taste of tart fruit. Seven Grand goes full-on Ghostbusters, complete with a Slimer behind the bar and a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man floating over the stage, while Peter Venkman hands over a glass of boozy, bittersweet hot chocolate.
The votes are yet to be cast on which bar featured the best punches and decor, but the themes will be staying up through this Saturday, when the bars will bring back their punch potions for the evening, selling each at $6.00 to celebrate Halloween.
Participating 213 bars include Casey's, Tony's, Seven Grand, Cana Rum Bar, Las Perlas, Cole's, and Golden Gopher. Check out the full foster of punches on offer down below. It won't take long before you're saying, "I see drunk people..."
213 Halloween Punches
'XXX' pumpkin spiced rye punch with orange wit beer float
Bittersweet Chocolate Punch topped with Marshmallows
Irish cream trucker coffee jalapeño infused
Carnie Juice Bushmills, lemon juice, honey syrup, with Guinness
Oxacan Dead blend of mezcal, rye whiskey, apricot brandy and winter spices
Caña Rum Bar
Peggy Sue Got Buried
Templeton Rye, Fresh Pineapple, Lemon, & a orange-ruby red grapefruit mix, Peychaud Bitters, Pernod Absinthe, & Simple Syrup (topped with Champagne & garnished with a gummy worm)