Arts & Culture

A Ghoulish Pop-Up Bar Gives Back

The Drink Company’s Pub Dread in D.C. raises money for hurricane relief


Pub Dread's life-sized doll house, filled to the brim with creepy dolls.

The best costume parties are the ones that go all in on a theme—a skill the crew at Washington, D.C.’s award-winning Drink Company has perfected with its hugely popular seasonal pop-up bars. This summer’s Game of Thrones-inspired drinking den generated lines that snaked around the block—drinkers waited up to three hours to get inside the 7th Street space. Throughout October, the group’s Halloween concept, Pub Dread, has been serving drinks in a temporary house of horrors based on the real-life fears of Drink Company employees. The month-long party ends with a fundraiser on October 31—tickets are $20—to support the World Central Kitchen and neighboring D.C. chef José Andrés’ efforts to feed those hit hardest in Puerto Rico.

Inside, a haunted forest complete with a crypt and coffins gives way to an over-sized doll house. “It’s filled to the brim with those creepy toys from your worst nightmares,” says senior bar manager Paul Taylor, who has been involved with the pop-ups since the first one launched in 2015.


Pub Dread’s Haunted Forest.

Cocktails—and barware—are on theme, too. “These menus are a ton of fun to conceptualize,” Taylor says. Beverage brainstorming begins at least two months before opening, yielding the creative results Drink Company is known for: The “David S. Pumpkins” is a potent brew made with two rums, cognac, sherry, allspice dram, coconut, and pumpkin; “Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!” is a compelling swirl of Aperol, Campari, Spanish vermouth, and house-made Twizzler soda, served with a paper straw in Beetlejuice’s signature black-and-white stripe.


The Drink Company’s “Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!” cocktail served with a side of spooky at Pub Dread.

Not going to be in D.C. before the month is up? Invite a few friends over, put on Gene Wilder’s Young Frankenstein, and mix up a batch of Pub Dread’s bourbon-and-apple backed sipper, “It’s Pronounced Fronk-en-steen.” “This cocktail looks awesome in a pitcher,” Taylor says. “Just multiply by the number of guests you intend to serve.”



1 oz. bourbon (preferably Belle Meade)

½ oz. rich simple syrup

½ oz. cucumber juice*

2 oz. apple juice (preferably Red Jacket apple cider)

2 oz. sparkling semi dry cider (preferably Shackbury Semi Dry)

1 oz. water

1 pinch of salt



Stir together ingredients and build over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

*Cucumber juice can be made by blending cucumbers and straining the result.