Things are heating up at the former Lava Lounge on the South Side.
Cocktails from the Crypt, a Halloween pop-up bar, will occupy the old haunt on E. Carson St. from Oct. 10 through Nov. 2. Open seven nights a week until 2 a.m, the bar will feature boozy concoctions in an environment that, thanks its red, cavelike interior, looks like hell.
Spencer Warren, owner of The Warren Bar and Burrow, knows a thing or two about pop-up bars. For the past several years, he’s transformed various vacant storefronts into Miracle, a watering hole bursting with holiday cheer. During the yuletide, Miracle bars appear across the globe, serving festive beverages such as The Bad Santa — a Kris Kringle head brimming with hot rum punch.
Cocktails from the Crypt won’t overdo the kitsch, but there will be plenty of skulls and creepy baby dolls hanging around. A long-time fan of HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt,” Warren says customers can expect spine-tingling surprises. There will be 10 special drinks priced at $10 each — including one encased in a blood bag — plus a limited selection of beer and traditional libations.
Warren rented the Lava Lounge, which closed in 2016 and briefly reopened as Monster, to open Miracle there this year, along with his location on Liberty Avenue. The property owners wanted him to commit to a six-month lease. Rather than stare at a lifeless bar for weeks, he decided to pay homage to the dead.
The front section of the lounge will be open Sunday through Wednesday. Folks can raise hell throughout the entire facility every other day of the week. Submachine, a local punk band, will rock the house Oct. 30 (Devil’s Night) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first show.
After the demons are exorcised from the site in November, Miracle will open the week of Thanksgiving. Warren already is accepting decoration donations. People can drop off items at the E. Carson St. site or at The Warren.
A portion of the proceeds generated by Miracle are donated to charity. Last year, the pop-up raised more than $35,000 for 412 Food Rescue, Tree of Life charities, Amy’s Army and Women in Whiskey. Warren isn’t sure if Cocktails from the Crypt will generate the same kind of buzz, but if the concept is successful, he’ll share the wealth.
Miracle has been a hit each year. With two locations in 2019, Warren hopes to double last year’s charitable donation.
Once the holiday season ends and the ornaments are stashed away, he plans to expand The Warren and look into opening a permanent restaurant or bar in the Downtown space.
“The idea of doing a pop-up in the same space doesn’t appeal to me,” he says. “I don’t just want to be a bar that changes its decorations.”