Want to put a literary spin on your next bar crawl? It may sound like a niche pipe dream, but more people than you might expect have wanted to mix books and booze. There are bars and restaurants all around the world that have drinks, food, and décor based on beloved books and writers. Here is a smorgasbord of establishments brimming with book love.
Onegin– New York, NY
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Even though Russian restaurants aren’t uncommon in Manhattan, this vodka hangout themed around avant-garde author Alexander Pushkin is one of a kind. All of its wooden tables have original Pushkin handwriting carved into them. While the bar celebrates Pushkin’s work as a whole through quotes and decorations, it specifically pays tribute to his most famous novel, Eugene Onegin. With an environment like this, it’s like Moscow is in your own backyard. If you want a preview of the bar’s Pushkin prowess, you can take a virtual tour on the official website.
The Hobbit Cafe– Houston, TX
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You may have to visit New Zealand to take a trip down a real Hobbit hole, but Middle Houston’s Hobbit Cafe provides the next best thing. The menu, which covers all types of food, wine, and beer, consists of Tolkien names like “Smaug’s Delight” and the “Pippen Pina Colada.” It’s also got the atmosphere to match, with portraits of Gandalf and other Fellowship members adorning the walls. There’s plenty of food and alcohol to go around, so don’t worry about dwarves crashing in on your lovely meal.
Wilde Bar & Restaurant– Chicago, IL
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In case you didn’t think Oscar Wilde and his hedonistic tendencies could live on, the owners of the Wilde Bar & Restaurant have hung the proverbial (and possibly literal) portrait of Dorian Gray on their wall. The bar celebrates Wilde’s enduring legacy year-round with a place to indulge. The walls are lined with bookshelves, the seats are coated in leather, and the food—like the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese—is rich. As Wilde famously said, “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” The Wilde Bar’s success is proof of this.
Lovecraft Bar– Portland, OR
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Portland’s hottest dance club is also a hangout for fans of all things Eldritch. In addition to the requisite beer and sandwiches, the Lovecraft Bar features a wide selection of tea, from Chaz Chai to Rose Verbena. One would think that this classy setup combined with a dance floor is a complete tonal disconnect, but the Lovecraft Bar has a clever solution. The regular live music acts featured all have horrifying names, like punk band Dead Cult and DJ Dennis Dread. For a spooky and sophisticated time, look no further.
The Lockhart– Toronto
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We’ve already covered this amazing Harry Potter-themed bar, but it’s amazing enough to warrant a mention here. Established just a few months ago, the bar prides itself on being a trendy spot for wizards and Muggles alike. One of the reasons it became an overnight success was because of its subtlety; all the Potter references and decorations are very sly and can be appreciated by all. And yes, you can get butterbeer.
Bookbar– Denver, CO
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Unlike the other places on this list, the Bookbar isn’t based on one particular novel or author. Instead, it’s a new type of place to read and buy books. The red brick walls and shelves with books both classic and modern could trick you into thinking this is just a regular bookstore, but the wine bottles on display ensure you that this is the place for happy hour. This combination creates the perfect cocktail of refreshing bar drinks and savvy bookstore atmosphere.
Poe’s Tavern– Charleston, SC
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It’s not quite the House of Usher, but Poe’s Tavern provides all the amenities you’d expect from a bar bearing the name of America’s most macabre poet. There’s tons of raven imagery, quotes scrawled in creepy font, and wine galore. The place is also strategically located, as Poe spent thirteen months on Sullivan’s Island during his time in the military. While there, he was inspired to write his iconic story, “The Gold Bug.” If you plan on going, just avoid getting too close to the amontillado.
Club Verne– Budapest
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This one’s a bit longer of a voyage for our American readers. If you happen to be in Budapest, though, consider taking the plunge into this 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea–themed restaurant. This place is notable because it’s oozing with atmosphere. The walls of the restaurant are covered in metal, with pipes and cables extending all around. It’s the most accurate (and fun) recreation of Captain Nemo’s famous submarine, the Nautilus.
Alice in Magic World- Tokyo
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If you’re really a world traveler, you’ll want to take a trip through the looking glass and visit this bar. This Japanese take on Lewis Carroll‘s timeless tale is alive with mushrooms, heart-shaped hedges, and checkerboard chairs. Each room in the bar is designed to portray a different scene from the classic book. Try some of their creative drinks as well, but don’t be surprised if things seem smaller…
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