Lonely Planet Writer

The Dark Side: Star Wars-themed pop-up bars set to open across US cities

Ever wanted to visit the Death Star? The Dark Side Bar is opening for a limited time in three cities across the US this November, and promises an immersive intergalactic Star Wars experience.

Star Wars-themed bars pop up in three US cities. Image by New Gold Empire

“When you walk in it’s going to feel like you’ve walked into the set of a Star Wars movie,” explained the bar’s creator Zach Neil, the brains behind the Dark Side Bars and other projects including Stay Classy, a 2016 pop up celebrating all things Anchorman, and the gothic Beetle House, a permanent bar and restaurant in NYC and LA that takes its inspiration from the works of filmmaker Tim Burton. “I’m a macabre kind of person, I love things on the darker side,” said movie buff Neil, “I’ve always rooted for the bad guys, Darth Vader and the dark side of the force. When the new Star Wars movie came our last year I loved it. It reenergized my love for Star Wars.”

A Blue Force cocktail – with dry ice and LED ice cubes. Image by The Dark Side Bar

The Dark Side Bar interiors in NYC, Los Angeles and Washington DC were imagined by Hollywood set designers. Patrons can order cocktails that Darth Vader would drink inside a mysterious blacked-out space dressed in bendable red glowing LED tubing. Drinks glow, smoke or fizzle, some have silver sugar or black sugar, others use extracts of exotic fruits like ugli or goji berries. Drinks named Red Force and the Blue Force have dry ice and LED ice cubes. “They are really intricate 6-8 part cocktails,” said Neil, “they’re really tasty and really cool. We wanted to go all the way with the drinks, they’re showstoppers.”

The Galaxy cocktail is a signature with silver sugar. Image by The Dark Side

Entertainment inside the bar will include intergalactic burlesque shows, with dancers in full prosthetics looking like aliens, plus alien speed dating events where “Space Nerds” can meet each other, explained Neil, who wholeheartedly encourages his guests to dress up as their favorite Star Wars characters. “If people don’t dress up we’re going to let them in but we’re going to frown at them the whole time,” he smiled.

The fully immersive experience in NYC, Los Angeles and Washington DC costs $33 per person (in advance, $40 on the door), entry includes two signature drinks. “People are working hard for their money, and going out should be exciting,” said Neil. “We want to call out all the creatures of the night, but even if you’re not a Star Wars fan it will be a really macabre experience.” The Dark Side Bar pop up bars run from 15 November to 14 January, visit here to book your tickets.