The best way to celebrate Halloween, other than with treats-inspired cocktails, is to have a drink at one of the most haunted bars in America. Thanks to the nation's early and violent days of brothels, speakeasies, and gambling halls, this country has no shortage of ghost-inhabited venues. At these old watering holes, disappearing pint glasses aren't a sign of too much drink, but rather longtime residents, ghosts.
Location: 292 Hanover Street, Boston, MA
Ghosts: A dark shadow figure that stands behind people.
This cigar bar located in the basement of Caffe Vittoria functioned as a speakeasy in the 1920s and has the most reports of ghostly goings-on in the building. Employees claim to have witnessed plates flying off tables and lights flickering. One waitress said she felt someone standing behind her only to turn around and see a floating black shadow that then flew around the room and straight through a glass door. SyFy show Haunted Collector featured the bar and discovered that, in the late 1800s, it was the site of a baby farm where many children met a horrific end.
Location: 36 & 38 Broad Street, Charleston, SC
Ghosts: A hair-pulling ghost; woman in black.
Blind Tiger Pub is a former speakeasy from the '20s and a regular stop on Charleston ghost tours. A visitor from Chicago claims that while she was in the first bar looking at t-shirts hanging on the wall, her hair was pulled so violently that her head was yanked back. One former manager reported that, while closing up the bar, he saw a woman dressed in black walk across the room and then disappear. Under the bar are old smuggling tunnels that some believe to be haunted by the ghost of a young woman.
Location: 2446 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL
Ghosts: Famed bank robber John Dillinger roams the bar; a scruffy cowboy who stomps through the upstairs dining room; a violent former owner who shoves people.
This recently renovated pub has often been called one of the most haunted bars in Chicago. Its ghosts are assumed to be past patrons who have died in or near the building, which was erected in 1882. The spirit of famed bank robber John Dillinger is said to roam the bar after having been shot down by federal agents just across the street in 1934. Current co-owner Colin Cordwell believes it's the ghost of former owner "Dirty Dan Danforth" who pushed him down the stairs, sending him to the hospital. The peak time for paranormal activity is late at night when the bar is nearly empty.
Location: 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Ghosts: Marilyn Monroe.
The historic Hollywood Roosevelt was the site of the very first Academy Awards and was home to many stars of the Silver Screen, from Humphrey Bogart to Montgomery Clift. The hotel is famous for its celebrity hauntings, but its mezzanine cocktail lounge and bowling alley, Spare Room, are the site of many paranormal activities. Employees have reported hearing whisperings and laughter in the empty bowling alley when closing the bar. Others have said they saw the reflection of Marilyn Monroe in a mirror that was kept in the bar office. It was supposedly the same mirror that hung in the private suite in which she used to reside.
Location: 840 S Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Ghosts: Original owner Tom Bergin.
Tom Bergin's is one of the oldest bars in L.A. opened by Tom Bergin in 1936. And even though it has gone through many owners and one re-location, the bar, its name and ghosts still remain. One well-known spirit is that of original owner Tom Bergin himself who is believed to manifest in the form of strong cigarette smoke emanating from his old corner booth. Even four overnight cleaning employees quit after having seen an old man in a tan suit smoking on the fireside couch.
Location: 422 S 2nd Street, Milwaukee, WI
Ghosts: Molly Brennan, a 16-year-old prostitute killed in the late 1920s.
This bar, whose building was erected in 1894 and was a former brothel, embraces its hauntings so much that its employees wear shirts with silkscreened ghost images. The bar also offers regular ghost tours where guests can experience those cold spots as well as see the occasional shadow people. Bonus is that those on the tour are welcome to bring cocktails along for liquid courage.
Location: 941 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA
Ghosts: Jean Lafitte, whispering woman.
Lafitte's sits on the quiet end of notorious Bourbon Street where its activity is more known to come from ghosts rather than tourists in beads. Built in the 1700s, it's said to be the longest-running pub in the United States that hasn't moved locations, making it ripe for hauntings. The most notable ghost is that of Jean Lafitte, the bar's owner and a privateer from the 1800s. His spirit supposedly likes to hang out around the fireplace, manifesting either as cigar smoke or as a pair of red eyes peering out from the fireplace grate. On the second floor is said to be the ghost of a woman who committed suicide there in 1890. She likes to wait until people are alone late at night upstairs, then whisper their name in their ear.
New York City
Location: 326 Spring Street, New York, NY
Ghosts: Mickey, the sailor who is still waiting for his ship to come in.
The Ear Inn, the oldest working bar in New York City and a registered historic building built in 1817, was the watering hole for many a longshoreman and smuggler in the 19th century. One of its most well-known ghosts is that of Mickey The Sailor, who was a regular bar-goer killed right outside the bar. His bawdy ghost has been known to goose waitresses, as well as slip into the beds of women who have lived upstairs over the bar.
Location: 110 Main Street, Tappan, NY
Ghosts: British spy Major John Andre who was jailed in the house before he was hanged in 1780.
The Old '76 House was built in 1686 and owners expanded the space and added a tavern in 1755. It played an important part in the Revolutionary War, serving as a meeting point for patriots. Notorious British spy Major John Andre was jailed in the house even though it was never an actual prison. General George Washington then condemned him to hang. Andre's ghost is believed to still haunt the restaurant, specifically sitting at tables two and 11, appearing in a hat and cape.
Location: 105 N 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Ghosts: A woman in a white wedding dress, "the devil."
The New York Times actually wrote about the possibility that this Brooklyn bar may be haunted. One porter described how, in 2006, he clearly saw the corporeal form of a middleaged woman dressed in a period wedding gown walk through the dining room to the basement stairs. Another porter took a nap in the basement only to wake up to find "the devil" standing over him. He quit after that.
Location: 901 W Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA
Ghosts: Rachel, who shoves people and appears at the third floor window.
The Broad Axe Tavern is the second oldest tavern in the U.S., standing since 1681. One of its most well-known ghosts is that of Rachel, the daughter of one of the former tavern owners, who disappeared after she fled into a bathroom to get away from handsy drunken men. Now motorists at the intersection outside the tavern have reported seeing her looking out at them from the third floor window. Ghost activity also is reported to ramp up when the tavern undergoes any sort of construction, with people being pushed down stairs and trays of food toppling over.
Location: 1310 Drury Street, Philadelphia, PA
Ghosts: Ma McGillin.
McGillin's Olde Ale House, opened in 1860, is the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and a favorite stop on many ghost tours. The spirit of Ma McGillin, who died 70 years ago after having run the bar and raised 15 children upstairs, has been spotted in the mirror hanging over the fireplace. This claim has been backed up by the South Jersey Paranormal Research, who even took a photo of the event. Ma is also known for following around employees on the first floor as if she's still running the place.
Location: 836 North Russell Street, Portland, OR
Ghosts: Sam, the former housekeeper who flushes toilets; a former bouncer who shoves people.
The White Eagle Saloon, established in 1905, is not only one of the oldest bars in Portland, it's considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in the city. It was even featured in Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places in America. The old saloon and former brothel has all the usual ghostly goings-on, from moving chairs to flying cooking utensils. But one waitress said she was shoved down the stairs by an unseen force, which was believed to be the ghost of a mean bouncer who had lived in the early 20th century and mysteriously disappeared.
Location: 26 Marlborough Street, Newport, RI
Ghosts: A colonial attired older man who hangs out by the fireplace
Located a short drive from Providence, White Horse Tavern is America's oldest bar. Opened in 1673 it was the former quarters for British soldiers during the American Revolution. The ghost of an old man dressed in colonial garb, who was said to have died while renting a room upstairs in the early years of the building, has been spotted by staff and guests hanging out by one of the fireplaces in the main dining room. Another ghost photobombed a publicity shot of the tavern taken by a professional photographer.
Location: 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX
Ghosts: President Theodore Roosevelt.
Opened in the Menger Hotel in 1859, the Menger Bar is one of the oldest bars in the U.S. and the hotel it's housed in is reputed to be "the most haunted hotel in Texas," with 32 separate entities reported over the years. One of them is Teddy Roosevelt, who used to hang out at the bar, recruiting unsuspecting cowboys with drink to join his Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. His ghost is usually spotted sitting at the bar with drink in hand. As for other entities, they've been known to carry utensils through the air or clomp around loudly.
Location: 1916 Post Alley, Seattle, WA
Ghosts: A small disfigured girl wearing a red taffeta dress sits on the stairs leading to the pub's main floor; a tall man in a suit walks the bar.
Being a former mortuary run by corrupt undertakers in the early 1900s, of course this bar at historic Pike Place Market is going to be teeming with the supernatural. So much so that the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures show came in to investigate in 2010. The ghost hunting team was able to capture electronic voice phenomenon recordings of voices saying things like, "I'm looking for my child" and "they have a bomb that will hurt you." They even took a photo of a little girl sitting on the stairs.
Location: 109 Yesler Way, Seattle, WA
Ghosts: Mary, the devout wife of former owner FX Schreiner; an angry man with a missing face; victims of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889.
A Seattle landmark with a checkered past of serving as a gambling parlor and brothel, the 125-year-old Merchants Cafe & Saloon suffered from constant owner turnover (seven different owners in eight years) thanks to hauntings. Reported paranormal encounters are so violent that the bar/restaurant was featured on TV show When Ghosts Attack and a medium who was brought in declared, "There's something very angry here." There have been flying wine bottles and kegs, as well as people being pushed or feeling as if they were being strangled. Current owner Darcy Hanson claims she got near-fatal pneumonia from Mary, the devout wife of former owner FX Schreiner, who owned the saloon from 1898 to 1922. The ghost mistook her for a madame and disapproved of her.