As an adult, admitting you love theme parks will earn you an eye roll from a certain subset of people. (Although there’s a perfectly good case for enjoying them to infinity and beyond).
“Your seventh visit to Disneyland?” your friends ask, aghast. “Really?”
But no one rolls their eyes if you stick to a favorite bar or order the same classic cocktail over and over — actions which are equally born out of nostalgia. A sip of a mai tai can transport you to an imagined Polynesian Paradise. A Bee’s Knees can give you a taste of another time.
Once you grow up, do you have to trade one thing for the other? What if you want to have your theme park and drink there too?
These eight bars are full on themed experiences — they also happen to pour fantastic drinks.
It’s not just the name that’s inspired by Lewis Carroll’s most famous works. Callooh Callay’s madcap, Wonderlandian interior will have you wondering if you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole or passed through the looking glass. Green couches, pink floors, cherry red barstools, and plump armchairs (all gently lit by the fruits of golden palm trees) give patrons the distinct impression that this is where Alice celebrated her 18th.
Continue to explore, and pass on through the walk-through wardrobe, to find the interior, “secret” Jub Jub bar. It’s probably safe to say we know where Mr. Tumnus took Lucy, Edmund, and Susan for their respective birthdays as well. Like paths change and disappear in Wonderland, so too do drinks at the Jub Jub, where the guest bartender and menu changes every three weeks.
Fantastically appointed as it is, Callooh Callay doesn’t just rely on its good looks. In 2012 it won the coveted Tales of the Cocktail World’s Best Cocktail Menu award.With a constantly changing, creative menu, you might go a little mad trying to keep up with all Callooh Callay has to offer. Careful not to lose your head!
Wes Anderson’s films — with their dreamy, storybook production design — practically beg their viewers to step inside and explore. Apparently Anderson realized this, because he finally built one where you can do just that. And you can drink there. Welcome to Bar Luce, part of the Prada Foundation, an art and culture complex opened in May of last year.
Taking design notes from 1950s and ’60s Italian popular culture, and complete with a Steve Zissou pinball machine, the bar also serves coffee and pastries, which would make it a great place to work on that quirky screenplay all day. Anderson agrees.
The entrance to Smuggler’s Cove is so nondescript, it would be easy to walk right past it, if it weren’t for the line out the door. And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it would be even easier to dismiss that line as a queue for club-goers.
Treasure seekers will be well-rewarded; the interior of Smuggler’s Cove is a piratical paradise, an ode to a fantasy Polynesian shipwreck, featuring a multi-story indoor waterfall, rum crate tables, romantic lantern light, and flaming drinks.
If the ambience isn’t enough, there are over 70 tiki, Prohibition-Era Havana, and classic rum cocktails to choose from, and the bartenders are more than happy to provide you with a punch card to help you work your way through all of them.
Where will Unicorn take you? To a veritable candy mountain of cocktails and deep fried carnival food — unicorn balls, anyone? — housed within a circus paraphernalia paradise. Imagine falling into the set of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and you’ve got the basic idea.
Dive a little deeper and explore Narwhal, Unicorn’s underground brother bar, home to eight pin ball machines, eight stand-up video games, and a claw machine. If nightlife isn’t your jam, and you’re more of a breakfast person, Unicorn offers a brunch menu too.
No promises you’ll meet your Makers here, but the H.R. Giger Bar can probably set you up with a shot of Makers or a signature Facehugger shot. Created by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, the bars envelop patrons into the biomechanical world of the Alien movies.
If we’ve learned anything from the Alien movies, it’s that putting something called the facehugger near your mouth is a sure recipe for a great time.
A Prohibition-inspired bar, Circa 33 takes its source material seriously. Like the 1920s watering holes that inspired it, Circa 33 boasts a hidden entrance. In this case, the speakeasy is behind a bookshelf — and you’ll have to find the book entitled Mafia in order to gain entrance.
Once inside, enjoy classic cocktails based on a winning formula of spirit, sugar, citrus, and bitters, or choose from over 100 whiskeys to sip neat.
Since 1945, The Tonga Room has been surprising and delighting visitors at the Fairmont San Francisco. Originally the hotel’s Terrace Level pool, the space was reimagined as a tropical tiki bar; the pool is now a lagoon, housing a floating island thatch bandstand.
The dance floor is crafted from the remains of a genuine lumber schooner. Within this bamboo, tribal print, and tiki-appointed paradise, indoor monsoons, complete with rain and lightning, punctuate an evening of cocktails and dancing.
Look, we could take you to ice bars. We could take you to underwater bars. We could take you to spy bars, train bars, clown bars (omg, WHY?), and Christmas bars. Or, we could take you to HEAVEN.
Mutts Canine Cantina is a dog friendly restaurant, beer garden, and dog park all in one. Grab a bourbon shake for you and a pupsicle for your best friend, and enjoy your day together.