Halloween Extravaganza – Urban Enchantment Series: PUB Grimm, Washington DC
Last week, we gave our second Profs & Pints talk, this time on witches in the Grimms’ fairy tales. And y’all. IT SOLD OUT. More than 200 people crammed into the Bier Baron Tavern to hear the lecture, and the manager actually had to turn people away at the door once the room was filled to capacity! The crowd was absolutely incredible – engaged, smart, and super-ready to laugh at our weird jokes. THANK YOU so much to everyone who came out to see us!
Best of all! The fabulous CEO of Profs & Pints, Peter Schmidt, has asked us to give an encore lecture in December, this time on seasonal winter folklore. If you’re in the DC area, we hope you’ll join us!
So. How do you celebrate a sold-out talk on the Grimms’ fairy-tale witches?
You go to a fairy-tale bar, of course! Welcome to the next installment of our Urban Magic series, where we take you on a tour of the incredible pop-up bar PUB Grimm in Washington, DC!
This place is decorated to within an inch of its life, in the best possible way. Meticulous attention to detail makes the space feel deliberate and cohesive – each room has a different theme and feel, and they all blend together beautifully. PUB Grimms’ Special Projects Manager Adriana Salame-Aspiazu clearly knows her fairy tales. We were expecting to see fairy-tale staples like “Cinderella” (the glass shoe pictured above is, of course, a nod to the beloved tale), but we were astonished and delighted to see nods to lesser-known stories like “Jorinde and Joringel” (one of Brittany’s all-time favorites) and “One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes.”
The first room is a meditation on “Little Red Riding Hood.” Ravens fill the rafters and even move ever-so-slightly and uncannily in the air currents from the overhead vents, but the centerpiece of the room is a wildly creative cloak statue affixed to the wall. Not only does it look incredibly ghostly, but it offers a charming opportunity to interact with the story and the space. (In other words, we got to step into the cloak and make dramatic faces and be completely enchanted.)
We definitely felt like the ravens were watching us. No matter where you sit, there’s at least one little head and a pair of beady eyes peering into your soul.
Along with fairy-tale themed drinks by Paul Taylor (we both had the “Big Bad Wolf,” a delicious brew of Avión Blanco Tequila, Coconut, and Cold Brew Chai Tea), PUB Grimm has partnered with chef Mike O’Brien of The Berliner, who serves up German classics like brats, frankfurters, and soft pretzels. Alas, by the time we arrived the kitchen was closed, but we appreciate that even the food is on-theme. The food-service bar can be found, appropriately enough, behind the facade of the “Hansel and Gretel” witch’s candy house. This room has an incredible number of gorgeous details and excellently specific decor choices. For example, do you see that barrel on the ceiling with all the nails coming out of it? That is a HYPER specific fairy-tale reference to the classic punishment (featured in such tales as “The Goose Girl”) of stripping someone, putting them in a barrel, nailing a bunch of nails into said barrel, and then either rolling said barrel down a hill or getting horses to pull it through the streets. So yeah, basically PEAK fairy-tale creepy.
We were especially taken with the life-sized cauldron (that Sara instantly flung herself into – why? Does she have no sense of self-preservation?) and the cages overhead, plucked straight from “Jorinde and Joringel” as far as we could tell.
In yet another room, a full moon shines down upon Rapunzel’s tower. Her golden braid hangs from the window, inviting princes (and fairy-tale scholars) to climb up. Leaves, trees, and vines skirt the room and eventually spill into the next space, in which the brambles and thorns of “Little Brier-Rose” fill the wall and become their own forest.
In this leafy room, animals lurk among the foliage and carousel horses float above the bar, tangled in Rumplestiltskin’s golden thread.
We think this was the point in the evening where our jaws just hit the floor, and we had to scoop them up and carry them around with us. This riot of decor could have easily veered into messy or tacky, but it was exquisitely done. The effect was always harmonious and intentional, even as different fairy tales were woven together and suspended before our very eyes.
Plus they had a free photobooth, so :D!
PUB Grimm also has a few special events coming up that we want to let you know about! First, delightfully, they are doing a Drag Queen Story Hour (yes you read that right!) every Saturday from 5:30PM-6:30PM. Drag performers dressed up as classic fairy-tale characters will read tales and a portion of the proceeds from drinks will benefit the DC Public Library Foundation (DCPLF). On Halloween they’re also doing free candy, drink specials, and a costume competition all night long. Halloween is ticketed and has limited availability though, so get in on that now if you’re so inclined!
PUB Grimm will be open until November 3rd, 2019, so if you’re in the DC area, now is your moment! After that, this magical fairy-tale forest will be replaced with a new theme and new decor. We’ll be very sad to see this theme go, but we look forward to seeing what their next offering will be!