Get ready for a fright.
When darkness falls across the land, its best to have a drink in hand. As the nights get longer and Halloween approaches, you may find yourself wanting to have a good stiff cocktail to ward off the cold and the creeps. Here are nine of the scariest bars around the world where the bravest among us can drink spirits with the spirits:
Ye Olde Man and Scythe
A pub opened on a crossroads in Bolton, Lancashire sometime around the year 1251. It didn’t get its resident ghost until some 400 years later, though, when James Stanley, the seventh Earl of Derby, was executed outside the pub for his role in a massacre. His ghost is said to haunt the Ye Olde Man and Scythe, the pub that stands there today. While there’s a chance that the pub’s famous ghost was “stolen” by a Chinese artist to use in an installation piece, the only way to know for sure is to have a pint at the pub, which is the fourth oldest in all of Britain.
Ye Olde Man and Scythe, 6-8 Churchgate, Bolton BL1 1HL, UK; +44 1204 559060
No one has died in this Vancouver legion hall, so it’s believed that the three or four ghosts who move chairs, stomp on the floors in empty rooms, and loom in the shadows are simply people who really liked the atmosphere at The Billy, as the Billy Bishop/Kerrisdale Branch RCL #176 is known. It’s hard to argue with the spirits, as the two-story building has a cozy bar on the ground floor that is lined in red banquettes around a brick fireplace. There’s also a banquet hall and event space upstairs, which is where the ghosts supposedly linger making strange noises in the dark night. The Billy is open to non-members, so grab a drink or stop by one of their Friday night dinners for a good meal with a side of the supernatural, just be sure to leave before it gets dark.
Billy Bishop/Kerrisdale Branch RCL #176, 1407 Laburnum St, Vancouver, Canada; +1-604-568-4130
No one doubts that Lafitte’s has a dark history, but it’s present is pretty scary, too—and not just because of the bar’s potent daiquiris. Sometime before 1772, Jean and Pierre Lafitte built this blacksmith shop-turned-bar as a cover for their illegal privateer activities, but there were rumors that they were also involved in the slave trade. While Jean Lafitte was pardoned for his crimes by President Andrew Jackson after they fought in the Battle of New Orleans together, it’s rumored that his restless spirit still haunts the bar, which is the oldest on Bourbon Street. He has good company, though: The bar is home to many ghosts who were displaced from their homes in the French Quarter, when they burned to the ground in the fires of 1788 and 1794.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, 941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA; 504-593-9761
Long before beers were served on its wooden counter, the Ear Inn was home to James Brown, who fought in the Revolutionary War before moving into a small brick building on the banks of the Hudson River in Manhattan in 1817. A few years later, Thomas Cloake bought the building and opened a bar on the ground floor, catering to the sailors who worked the nearby docks. After Prohibition, which the bar survived by passing itself off as a restaurant, it was renamed The Green Door and it wasn’t until 1977 that it became the Ear Inn. Soon patrons started to report mysterious events like unexplained noises, mysterious apparitions, and things that went bump in the night. They are blamed on sailors who never left the inn, drowning victims who lost their lives in the river, or long-time patrons who still want to quench their thirst in the afterlife.
Ear Inn, 326 Spring St. New York, NY; 212-226-9060
If you’re not a fan of the supernatural, don’t put a bar inside an old mortuary. The folks behind the Kells Irish Restaurant in Seattle. Built inside an old mortuary, Kells sits in Post Alley above Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, and rumor has it that the door to the pub is where they used to bring the bodies. There are many ghosts supposedly lingering inside the joint, even though the funereal atmosphere has given way to a convivial vibe albeit. Look for a little red-headed girl and raise a pint to a ghost named Charlie who likes to show up unannounced in a Guinness mirror. The bar is so haunted that even the guys from Ghost Adventures got spooked when they stopped by to film an episode.
Kell’s Irish Restaurant, 1916 Post Alley, Seattle, WA; 206-728-1916
There are no ghosts known to haunt McCarthy’s Pub, because the owner wouldn’t leave a body lying around long enough for its spirit to leave a trace. You see, the bar is owned by a local undertaker and he promises to make quick work of anyone who drops dead at his pub. The bar’s full-service operation has the slogan, “We wine you, dine you, and bury you,” which is truly multi-tasking at its finest. In addition to its undertaker services, which range from preparing the body for viewing to arranging for a hearse, McCarthy’s also has what The Guardian calls an “upmarket restaurant” that serves contemporary Irish fare. All of McCarthy’s services are housed in a building that dates back to 1850s with wood-lined walls, stained glass, and all the trappings of a haunted establishment, minus the ghosts.
McCarthy’s Pub, Main St. Spitalfield, Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland; +353-52-613-1149
It’s rumored that 13 people have passed away while passing the time at Earnestine and Hazel’s bar. Built in the late 19th century, and originally intended as a church, it has been serving spirits since the 1930s. In the ‘60s and ‘70s it became an ongoing after-party for the Stax Record crew and was filled with merry-makers well into the night. That’s who they say caused the jukebox to start playing James Brown’s “I Feel Good” on the day he died, even though no one put a dime in, but no one knows for sure who is behind the floating orbs, the flickering lights, the mysterious voices, or the piano that plays itself. It’s worth putting up with the supernatural for one of the institution’s famed Soul Burgers, though.
Earnestine and Hazel’s, 531 S Main St. Memphis, TN; 901-523-9754
Don’t leave your pint unattended at this Edinburgh watering hole or it’s liable to be thrown at the wall or knocked to the floor by an unseen hand. While many businesses try to pretend they don’t have a ghost problem (see: the hotel scene in the original Ghostbusters), the Banshee Labyrinth touts its haunted history, proudly claiming itself to be Scotland’s most haunted pub. There’s no point denying it, because the place feels downright eerie, as it is built into some of the city’s many underground vaults and has a resident banshee known to wail at construction workers. There are a few perks, though: if you accidentally drop your pint, you can always blame the ghost and ask for a free replacement.
The Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry St. Edinburgh EH1 1LG, UK; +44-131-558-8209
The Moon River Brewery hasn’t been around long enough to earn a haunted past, but the building it’s in has been around since 1821, which is more than enough time to collect a few ghosts. The building originally housed the City Hotel, which saw at least one murder and a near lynching darken its halls. The building managed to survive the Civil War and served as a make-shift hospital during Savannah’s yellow fever outbreaks that cost many children their lives. The building then sat derelict for years before the brewing company moved in. Since then staff and customers complain of bottles thrown by invisible hands, child-like spirits, unseen forces that touch them, and “Toby” a ghostly figure known to shove people around.
Moon River Brewing Company, 21 W. Bay St. Savannah, GA; 912-447-0943