Food

Jump Into the Brothers Grimm Fairytales at DC’s Halloween Pop-Up Bar

Drink Company's PUB Grimm opens in Shaw on October 17 with storybook cocktails and German brats.

The Glass Slipper with gin, vermouth, and spruce oil. Photograph courtesy of Drink Company.

Once upon a time, in a pop-up bar in Shaw, Drink Company spun the haunting fairytales of the Brothers Grimm into a life-size storybook. Their third annual Halloween bar transforms the fables into PUB Grimm, opening Monday, October 17 (through November 3).

“Halloween is not just about dress up and make believe,” says Drink Company president Derek Brown. “It’s also just about going to a different place and feeling like a different person and that’s embodied by the fairytales.” 

To transport patrons, special projects manager Adriana Salame-Aspiazu checked out versions of the Grimm fairytales from the Library of Congress dating back to the 1850s and early 1900s. Prints from the German storybooks are hung across the pub, telling the tales of scheming witches and mystical twists of bad luck.

The stories leap from the pages into three-dimensional installations. A canopy filled with hundreds of thorns is inspired by “Sleeping Beauty’s Briar Rose,” or a Rumplestiltskin-style wheel spinning straw into gold. In the Grimm tales, Rapunzel’s witch had a green thumb and her planter sits in front of a castle, cheekily stocked with “Rapunzel lettuce” (a variety of salad greens). Salame-Aspiazu describes the decor as “the balance of whimsical and more Halloween scary.”

“When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a princess for Halloween. And then my mom would buy me the witch costume. I definitely wanted it to be both,” says Salame-Aspiazu. 

The tale of Snow White gets a whiskey and apple cider drink called the Fairest Apple of Them All. Photograph courtesy of Drink Company.
The tale of Snow White gets a whiskey and apple cider drink called the Fairest Apple of Them All. Photograph courtesy of Drink Company.

While Hansel and Gretel only had bread crumbs in the forest, the Halloween bar is serving a German menu of brats and pretzels made by Berliner chef Mike O’Brien. The Germanic fare is also a wink at the other October holiday that’s more about brews than boos.  

Wash down frankfurters with a roster of cocktails crafted by head of bar concepts Paul Taylor. The drinks take cues from the theme and seasonal flavors and spices. A Snow White-themed cocktail called the Fairest of Them All plays on the story’s poison apple with cider, maple, and whiskey. Or try Crumby Directions, a smoked allspice-and-whiskey drink.

While the entire place is Instagram heaven, certain details are intentionally designed for a photo op. Patrons can pose inside Little Red Riding Hood’s namesake cloak or hop into a giant witch’s cauldron. In the photo booth, an evil queen’s hand extends an apple.

A drink called Crumby Directions pays homage to Hansel and Gretel's trail of bread crumbs. Photograph courtesy of Drink Company.
A drink called Crumby Directions pays homage to Hansel and Gretel’s trail of bread crumbs. Photograph courtesy of Drink Company.

Want to hear the fairytales themselves? On Saturdays from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM, local drag queens will read the books and a portion of the drinks sold during the hour will be donated to the DC Public Library Foundation. On Halloween (October 31) the pop-up bar is hosting a ticketed party with candy and drink specials.

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a lot less controversial than DC’s other new Halloween bar.

PUB Grimm. 1843 7th St., NW. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 PM to 12:30 AM; Friday through Saturday 5 PM to 1:30 AM. 

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Daniella Byck

Daniella joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a University of Wisconsin-Madison grad and lives in Logan Circle.