I know that the entire world has thrown itself into fits about the return of Game of Thrones. I’ll admit that I am one of those people who had palpitations at the mere thought of the return of Jon Snow, Daenerys and even bad ol’ Cersei.
While planning my recent trip to DC, I was over the moon when I happened upon a link to a newspaper article about DC’s latest attraction: a Game of Thrones PUB. Despite the word pub, this is not the traditional use of the word, but rather an acronym for Pop-Up Bar. These bars do exactly what their name suggests: they pop up for a brief time and then are closed, redecorated and reopened with new themes. This particular space, which is actually a combination of three bars, has also had pop-ups themed around Super Mario Brothers and DC’s beloved Cherry Blossom festival.
Despite warnings of long lines, my best friend and I decided we were going. Thankfully our host, a long-time DC resident and one of our closest friends is also a die-hard GoT fan and was willing to join us in our potentially foolish endeavor.
And potentially foolish it was…at least at the start. We decided to go on Sunday, hoping that getting into line close to the 1 pm opening time would secure us a decent spot. Unfortunately only two of us are regularly rise before noon, so we got to the PUB closer to 1:30 and the line was all the way to the front of the Metro stop. My friend went to check on the estimated wait time and was told that optimistically speaking, it would be at least 90 minutes before we got in, however, the bouncer seemed to think it would be closer to two hours. We all decided that even though our love for certain Lannisters is strong, since it was already close to 90 degrees outside, there was no way we could stand in that atrocious line that long. We vowed to try again later.
We found another bar to drown our sorrows at, spent some time walking around the National Mall, where there was a Folklife Festival going on*, got a close up view of the Washington Monument, and then met up with my friend’s girlfriend and headed back to the PUB.
This time we had much better luck. There was still a line, but it was only about half the size. It probably helped that it was five and the bar is only open until 7 on Sundays. This time the bouncers were estimating an hour until entry, which we’d all agreed was our limit. Thankfully it moved quicker than expected and after only 40 minutes, we were in.
Although the PUB is actually 3 buildings, they are rather narrow buildings and there was hardly any room to move around. In fact, we were told that in order to get in, we had to go straight to the back of the first bar, into the area known as Mereen where it was the least crowded. Unlike the actual country in GoT, this version is quite dark and the floor amazingly sticky, even for a bar. At one point, after getting my first drink, a Dothraquiri (fitting considering our location), I actually had trouble getting out of the way for others to order because my feet were so stuck. Still, it was fun to watch the dragon spew forth smoke as I sipped my very tasty drink. It was also amusing to watch the bartender yell at patrons who thought reaching up to try to climb inside the dragon’s mouth was a good idea. I asked her how tired she got of telling people not to touch the dragon and she said it was the first time she’d had to do it, but that they’d kicked someone out earlier for trying to hang from it. Clearly people have not learned their lessons about dragons from the show.
My friends and I hung out with Dany’s dragon long enough to get our second drinks (this part of the bar really was less crowded) before heading off to explore the rest of the PUB. Because we’d arrived at the PUB so late in the day, we’d missed our opportunity to sit on the Iron Throne. They give out tickets on a first come, first serve basis and allow people to get their pictures taken on the throne both wearing a fake fur and holding a sword. We got to glance at it, but had to spend sip our drinks in the banner room of the Red Keep. That was ok with us as we had drinks and good company. I was enjoying exchanging sips of my The Lannisters Send Their Regards with my best friend’s Lady Mormont. Although I liked my drink, it was not quite as sweet as I’d hoped. I loved the red color, the gold paper straw and the swords with a strawberry stabbed through it. However, it was not quite as awesome as her drink which came served in a glass bear jar, was a perfect blend of honey and fruit and had an actual flower in it.
Passing over into The North, we got a glimpse at the House of Black and White and all took pictures of us making faces next to the faces ensconced in the walls. Turns out we are all pretty big dorks. The North not only features the red tree of the Starks, complete with blood dripping from its eyes, but also a portion of the wall with the lone pick ax an unfortunate Wildling left behind. It’s also where we tried a few more drinks. Our least favorite was the Dracarys, but it did come with a little plastic dragon, which slightly redeemed it in my eyes. My friend had to temporarily surrender his driver’s license in order to get The North Remembers because it came in a kick-ass mug, very similar to the ones the brothers of the Night’s Watch use at the wall. While we thought the drink was decent, what we really liked was taking pictures of us drinking it. The undisputed drink winner of the evening was Milk of the Poppy, which freaked us all out a little with its list of ingredients (what is clarified milk?), but was simply delicious! We all wished we’d ordered one.
Although Milk of the Poppy was the best drink, the best delivery of a drink has to go to the very first one my friend and his girlfriend ordered, Shame. Not only was it pretty tasty, but as the bartender handed each drink out, she rang a bell and yelled “shame,” which we all then repeated three or for times. No matter what anyone was doing in the bar, the second a bartender hollered “shame,” well all joined in to great communal joy.
Although the bar was a bit cheesy (cosplayers dressed as Daenerys and Jon Snow walked around and took pictures with guests) and the drinks pricey, it was a great way to spend an hour and a half. We stayed until last call, which came earlier than I would have liked, however, our bar tender told us that they are under contractual obligations with HBO to close early on Sundays so that patrons have enough time to finish their drinks and get home to watch the show.
The bar is only open until mid-August, so if you get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. It was a great time spent with some of my besties, paying tribute to one of my favorite shows and getting some tasty drinks to boot!
*which oddly seemed to be 100% dedicated entirely to the circus. We heard some very strange clown jokes, saw an actually funny guy do a juggling demonstration and one of my friends got 1/2 a barbeque chicken.