September ushers in the spooky season. To kick off the season’s creepy mood, I joined some spirits at the Haunted Tavern in Bradenton. The 90-minute pop-up, interactive event is equal parts history, entertainment, and with each round of cocktails, lots of eerily fun.
A text I received earlier asked guests arrive 15 minutes before the 7 p.m. show as it will start promptly. Abiding, my friend Viv and I arrived at 6:45 p.m. and quickly found a pair of seats in the front. Others attendees chose to pregame either at the bar or enjoy their cocktails in their socially-distanced seats. Mood music played as we sat in the mostly-dark function space of the Urban Loft of Manatee Central staring at an alter. Chatter in the room was loud with anticipation as a soundtrack appealing to the supernatural played.
Eerie Tales and Cocktails Make a Fun Evening
As the clock ticked closer to 7 p.m., servers with ghoulish macabre makeup and dark clothing handed out the first of four beverages. Called “Doctors Orders,” the shot included a plastic syringe of strawberry puree.” The server mumbled something as he handed it to me. I have no clue what he said but guessed we were to wait before drinking the shot.
Soon after 7 o’clock, the slender tavern keeper sauntered up to the alter and he was our storyteller for the evening. He spoke slowly and purposely with a Southern drawl, reminiscent of the Low Country. Or N’awlins. The important thing, he instructed us to take our shot.
The evening consisted of four eerie tales, all with ties to the Bradenton and Southwest Florida area. Following each story, specialty cocktails were served. And as the audience enjoyed more spirits, the engagement level increased.
Yeah, Go Ahead and Book that Haunted Tavern Ticket
For $40, the Haunted Tavern was a fun way to spend an evening, learn something, or at least be entertained, and try something new. If you read mixed reviews online, take them with a grain of salt. Forty dollars is a great value for the entertaining evening. Think of it as a ghostly pub crawl. You’d probably spend more than $40 stumbling from pub to pub.
If you attend, be sure to bring cash to tip the servers. Or, you may have an option to tip via Venmo.