REPOSTED FROM The Akron Beacon Journal.
Some folks just love Halloween.
They can’t get enough of witches, jack-o’-lanterns, orange-and-black things.
Couple that seasonal love with a bunch of adult candy (aka alcohol), and a good and hopefully slightly creepy time awaits.
TD’s Tailgate Grill, 2234 Tuscarawas St. W., Canton, understands folks’ love of autumnal spookiness and has given Halloween lovers and anyone who just loves themed bars a fun place to commiserate.
In late 2017, TD’s opened with a Christmas-themed, pop-up bar in the small room adjacent to its large primary space.
It was so popular that TD’s has flipped the theme throughout the year including a Chocolate Factory — relax Mr. Wonka, no copyrights were infringed — and a Tiki Bar for summer.
Now, with the Great Pumpkin gearing up for his big night at the end of October, the pop-up bar has been transformed into That Halloween Bar.
But we’re not talking a few plastic pumpkins and flimsy paper skeletons and a few servers in witch hats.
TD’s adroitly teamed up with the decades-experienced, high-tech scaremonger John Eslich, owner of Canton’s Factory of Terror and Akron’s Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory (that’s pronounced Luh-borr-a-tory), and he packed That Halloween Bar with oodles of professional-grade scary stuff.
Walking into the small bar, you are greeted by a welcoming, open-armed, desiccated zombie mannequin who doesn’t seem to mind if bar-goers take pictures with him.
The bar itself is fairly small, and there are tables against the wall and a short row of tables and stools down the middle that keeps things compact.
Every inch of the walls is covered in spooky stuff.
The area behind the bar features way too many creepy clowns, and dead-eyed dolls, skulls and skeletons are everywhere. There’s an animated morphing “painting” that depicts Victorian-age folks doing unspeakable things (wait, did that creepy little girl just behead that Peter Cushing look-alike? Yikes! Gimme a drink!).
On the opposite wall, two screens show a machete-wielding madman terrorizing a hapless damsel.
There’s a wall of jack-’o-lanterns with iconic scary folks, including Freddy Krueger, Pennywise the Clown and the Grinch.
In the back of the dimly lit room, there’s a standing coffin that’s also perfect for picture taking and even has a ”#ThatHalloweenBar” sign above it for convenience.
The music playing includes obvious tunes such as “Monster Mash,” but also vaguely thematically correct songs including the Eagles’ smooth “Witchy Woman,” Electric Light Orchestra’s “Evil Woman” and, of course, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
As there isn’t much room, there’s a decent chance the bar will be crowded when you visit, but it adds to the dark atmosphere.
And since the servers, in full costume, naturally, continually haunt the tables (see what I did, there?), you won’t have to work too hard to get a drink.
The drink menu is rife with themed specialty drinks for $9. You can Feed Your Frankenstein with bourbon, muddled orange and mint and simple syrup, or down the Love Potion #9 featuring a mysterious “mix of alcohols and juice” that comes in a beaker and dry ice.
Lovers of all things pumpkin flavored will definitely want the pumpkin pie martini concocted from vodka, pumpkin spice rum, secret spices and actual pumpkin pie filling.
It sounds murky, but it actually tastes like a delicious, liquefied pumpkin pie.
In addition to the specialty drinks, spooky sangria and a selection of seasonal beers and ciders, there are a few $4 themed shots, including one that comes in a comically large syringe.
There are a few appetizers available, but if you have a few too many Dirty Voodoos, you can always go next door and get some nonspooky food.
Friends and co-workers Erica Young of Massillon, Ferrah Brewer of Akron, Emily Simon of Canton and Carolyn Fertal of North Royalton were the remaining stragglers of a post-work hang and were enjoying the atmosphere and the drinks on a recent weeknight.
The crew of local teachers came on at the insistence of Brewer, an avowed fan of the holiday.
“I sent an email at 10 o’clock this frickin’ morning saying it was opening day at That Halloween Bar and we have to go!” Brewer said. “I just love the gore and the ghoul. They did a really good job, I’m impressed.”
Brewer has experienced all of the themed bars and said only the Christmas bar rivaled the current setup. While slightly less enthused, Brewer’s co-workers were enjoying themselves.
“I think this place is fantastic and the atmosphere is delightfully ghoulish. I like how the bartenders are dressed up in character,” Young said, noting that she was fond of the screens.
“I like the low lighting; it adds to the atmosphere,” said Simon, an admitted casual fan of Halloween.
That Halloween Bar opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday until Nov. 3 when something with tinsel and trees will likely pop up.