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10 Brilliant Ideas for Pop Culture Pop-Up Bars Around Dallas

You remember the mumu episode, right?
You remember the mumu episode, right? Danny Gallagher
Now that we're allowed to go outside without walking around in a plexiglass box like the world's shittiest mime, themed pop-up bars are making a comeback.

This trend refers to when bars, pubs and taverns decorate and redo their menus to celebrate something seasonal like Halloween or Christmas or some kind of pop culture entity like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones (presumably not to celebrate the final episode).

The Whippersnapper has become the undisputed god of themed pop-up bars, the latest of which celebrates TV's longest-running show, The Simpsons, by transforming its McMillan Avenue tavern into a makeshift Moe's Tavern. It's only a matter of time before this or another place starts to tackle other beloved franchises, and some places could definitely do certain TV shows, movies, video games and other stuff we love better than others.

click to enlarge LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
Lauren Drewes Daniels

1. Legends of the Hidden Temple at Swizzle
Nickelodeon's golden age of game shows for kids in the '80s and '90s gave children some of their first tastes of greed and jealousy. Some of us would've done anything to run through a makeshift temple to retrieve
Goro Nydo Masamune's fabled Honjo Masamune sword and lay it as the mighty Olmec's feet for a chance to win a new pair of British Knights.


The tiki bar Swizzle, located just below Lower Greenville, looks like a place that's already planning a tribute to the only TV game show to celebrate grave robbing. It has the look of a long-lost place hidden deep in a jungle that could house ancient artifacts, and it has a menu of tropical dishes and drinks that could be given new names, like Olmec's Ol' Fashioned and The Pendant of Lime.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE TRUCK YARD
courtesy of The Truck Yard
2. Letterkenny at The Truck Yard
This latest Canadian comedy gem airing on Hulu has earned a cult following in America in the tradition of great white northerners like the Trailer Park Boys and Bob and Doug McKenzie from SCTV. It follows in the tradition of the small, rural town sitcom full of characters who might be familiar to anyone who grew up in a town where one could run from one county line to the other without getting winded.

The Truck Yard looks like a place where "hicks," "skids" and "hockey players" might get into a brawl over some trivial issue. It's got that outdoorsy feeling that serves as the setting for the fictional Ontario town set way out in the sticks. The show's growing vocabulary of terms for talking shit to one another or describing a rival's temperament is crying out to be made into drinks by turning a virgin daiquiri into a "10-Ply" or a Sex on the Beach into a "Swipey Snipey." Just look it up.

3. Downton Abbey at The Library
The historical soap opers that gave you a reason to talk about a PBS show has a massive audience, and it's puzzling that no one around town has tried to tackle it yet in bar or pub form. Who doesn't want to go into a place for a drink and feel like a member of the early 20th-century aristocracy?

Dallas may not have a spare manor house to make this fully true to the show, but this Uptown bar has the feel of an upscale bar from another era with its wood-carved wall trim, glowing chandeliers and what must be super expensive burgundy floral rugs. Staff could pretend to be servants, but you can pay them a hell of a lot better with your tips.

FILE PHOTO
file photo
4. Frasier at Times Ten Cellars
We first considered a Cheers pop-up, but the more we thought about it, the more it felt like too perfect of a concept. Cheers is a show about a bar so why not a bar about the bar on the show? Too meta. The universe would collapse in on itself. The show's equally excellent spinoff starring Kelsey Grammar as Seattle's most popular radio shrink feels like another entertainment property that should've gotten a pop-up treatment by now.

Frasier still has a huge audience since it's on pretty much every hour of the day somewhere in the world. The Times Ten Cellars winery feels like the kind of place that Frasier and Niles would hold their wine club meetings. And who says a winery can't have its own pop-up concept? If someone turns their nose up at it the way Frasier would at his old man's beloved recliner, that just leaves more hooch for the rest of us.

COURTESY OF THE LONDONER
courtesy of The Londoner

5. Shaun of the Dead at The Londoner

Bars provide important plot points in all of the films in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Blood and Ice Cream film trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End). The zombie comedy takes place primarily in Shaun and Ed's favorite, dreary London pub The Winchester.

The British pub in Addison is the last Londoner standing and the interior is eerily accurate to the dark oak and brick walls of The Winchester. It's got a pool table with pool cues that are perfect for fighting off zombies and a jukebox that can play Queen's Don't Stop Me Now with which you can time your swings to the song's beat. The TV screens can be changed to show that all the networks have gone off the air as the dead rise to feast on the living. All they have to do is stick a Winchester rifle above the bar that may or may not be loaded and serve something called the Slice of Fried Gold. Then guests take Pete's car, go to Mum's, kill Phil (Sorry), grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all of this to blow over.

SARA KERENS
Sara Kerens
6. Deadpool at The Grapevine Bar
A Deadpool-themed bar requires something special. It needs to be flashy, zany and colorful but still have a down-to-Earth feeling to remind you of the hero's sacrifice and struggle even if he doesn't like being called a hero. We started looking at places similar to the mercenary hangout in the old Sister Margaret's School for Wayward Children from the comics and the movies, but we really don't want to know that such a sad place actually exists.

The Grapevine Bar feels more like the kind of place to celebrate the Merc with a Mouth. It's got attitude without being garish and a bit of silliness in its environment without being an attention-seeking, lame-ass teacher's pet. Just put some chimachangas on the menu, hire someone to be a wisdom dispensing Fat Gandalf and start a chalkboard dead pool and you've got a place where you can hang out in between assassination jobs and the constant need to save your girlfriend from a mutant gone rogue.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF SINGLE WIDE
courtesy of Single Wide
7. Supernatural at Single Wide
This country-fried Ghostbusters serial that ran to wide acclaim and fandom on The CW sounds like it would be easy to replicate in bar form in a city like Dallas.

The Winchester brothers' adventures took them across the country and the ethereal plane of human existence as they investigated and fought other worldly entities. Single Wide offers the perfect blend of dive and divine just right for the dreamy male leads of the long-running sci-fi/horror show. It's got a fun throwback feel that would serve as a perfect setting for a paranormal investigation, and they could serve up tasty concoctions based on the show's long line of supernatural beings. 

click to enlarge COURTESY OF OZONA
courtesy of Ozona
8. King of the Hill at Ozona
You might think a honky-tonk or a place with a cow skull out front would be the perfect setting for a King of the Hill experience. You'd be wrong. King of the Hill is one of the few TV shows set in Texas that's set in actual Texas, far away from the long-gone world of 10-gallon hats and boots on spurs.

Ozona Bar and Grill is a friendly neighborhood place where white shirts and jeans can fit right at a table or the bar. It feels like the kind of place you'd find in the fictional town of Arlen where folks can knock back an Alamo beer or two and stand around going "Yup."

9. Mad Men at The Knife Bar
Every once in a while, you should go out in something more dashing than your favorite beat-up jacket and classic Reeboks. A Mad Men night is the perfect excuse to put on that nice suit or cocktail dress that you've been trying to avoid all year.

The AMC show may not have taken place primarily in a bar, but some of Don Draper's biggest pitches and ad deals happened thanks to long, liquid lunches. The Knife Bar has that kind of clean-cut, '50s feeling where ad men would hang out during and after work to discuss the drama of their day. If they made business attire a requirement, the place wouldn't need any redecorating to look like the show.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE TIPSY ALCHEMIST
courtesy of The Tipsy Alchemist
10. BioShock at The Tipsy Alchemist
This series of first-person-shooter video games takes place in steam-pipe utopias occupied by enemies in weathered metal weaponry and mechanics. The Tipsy Alchemist feels just like the kind of bar that would exist in the underwater world of Rapture.

The place has a fun pipe motif that is a staple of the steampunk style alongside a retro look in its decoration and furniture. The game's consumable power-ups are all some kind of alcoholic beverage, so they could just print out and stick labels for Moonshine Absinth and Red Ribbon Brandy on the bottles. The only things missing are the bloodthirsty Big Daddies stomping around the place with their Little Sisters in tow. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.