Hit the Books (and the Bottle)
Literary themed bars for readers and drinkers
Books and booze. Wine and words. Libations and literature. Okay, I’ll stop with the alliteration, but really, reading and bars go hand in hand. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book—except getting lost in an equally good beer while doing so. Tuck into your favorite brew (or start with some Fireball shots, I’m not one to judge) and get ‘lit’ at some of the best lit-inspired bars across the globe.*
*I had to. I hate myself, too.
New York, New York
Located on Hudson and 11th Street, writers such as Dylan Thomas began favoring this spot in the ‘50s. Jack Kerouac, known for his propensity towards whiskey (and unfortunately dying from alcohol abuse), was thrown out of the bar many times. These incidents became rather infamous, as people began writing versions of “Jack Go Home” and “Leave Kerouac” on the bathroom wall. Fans of the “beat”-era author still visit today to add their mark.
Brooklyn, New York
Are comic books your thing? Check out this Bushwick bar, where comic-themed posters mark the walls and action figures line the bar. The dive bar boasts reasonably priced drinks named after heroes and villains. And with service ‘til 4 a.m., you can party in this nerd-haven all night long.
It’s a wine bar. It’s a bookshop. It’s perfect. Warm and inviting, this bar is the ideal spot for a quiet happy hour or get together with friends for a bookish discussion. Recycled wine crates act as tabletops and couches and chairs are available for those who want to dive right in after browsing the bookshelves.
Los Angeles, California
Surly Holden Caulfield gets a pick me up at this Salinger-motif brew-den. The bar list includes cocktails named The Raven, The Gatsby, and Huckleberry Finn among other revered titles. The haunt provides board games and books for patrons, adding to the classy-casual vibe of this L.A hotspot.
H.P. himself would visit this “horror-themed dance bar,” known for it’s morbid art and punk, goth, alternative, and dark electro dance nights. The bar even features a rubbing from Lovecraft’s grave in Rhode Island. Tentacle murals and “unhappy hours” (complete with absinthe-green Cthulu cocktails) are hits at the macabre nightspot. With live performances, tarot card readings, movie nights, and author signings, there’s something going on every night of the week.
With a history dating back over 130 years, this quaint traditional pub is a great joint for fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective. Make sure you stop in for a pint or two and venture upstairs to the replica of Holmes and Watson’s study.
The Library is a book aficionado’s paradise. The “club,” as it’s called to those in the know, requires you to be a private member (by being nominated by a current member) to take part in their broad reading collection and overnight rooms. But with a special James Bond menu and drinks named after greats like Wilde and Whitman, it might just be worth it to join.
Located across the road from Märchenbrunnen (Fountain of Fairy Tales) in Volkspark, the bar places an emphasis on Alice in Wonderland—the staff wears full costumes, the menu comes as a pop-up book, and the mirrors in the bathroom distort your facial features to replicate the trippy vibe of Lewis Carroll’s beloved work. The wide variety of drinks pays homage to childhood classics like Cinderella, but there’s nothing childish about this place.
As a dedicated fan, I’m ready to jump on a broomstick (or Apparate, use Floo Powder, a Portkey, whatever) to get to this Toronto-based haven ASAP. Having just opened in September, the bar is a touching tribute to the Boy Who Lived and his creator. With drinks named “The Shacklebolt” and subtle references to the series (like stag coasters), the bar is sure to be a hit among both wizards and Muggles. The best part? The neon sign displaying the final words of the series, “All was well.” Be still my Potter heart.
FEATURE PHOTO BY DARIUS VIA EPICANTUS