West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl takes you where the ectoplasm is so thick you need an Aqualung to breathe
Let's forget about scary haunted houses for a minute and focus instead on one of the most enjoyable Halloween events in Los Angeles. When the West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl made its debut in 2015, it immediately levitated to the top of Hollywood Gothique's Top Picks thanks to a crafty combination of spirits both alcoholic and apparitional. Unfortunately, the WeHo Haunted Pub Crawl went on hiatus last year, but it's back for Halloween 2017. Hollywood Gothique went on Saturday, and we're here to tell you it's every bit as the blast of supernatural shenanigans that we remembered.
West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl 2017 Review: Food & Drink
The West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl takes carousing ghost-hunters on a paranormal tour of haunted hot spots along the Sunset Strip - where the ectoplasm is so thick you need an Aqualung to breathe. Filled with ghastly tales, sordid stories, and delightful drink specials, the three-hour crawl includes pub stops at Pink Taco, The Den, the Sunset Trocadero Lounge, and Saddle Ranch. Exterior stops (where the guide pauses to tell his tales) include Chateau Marmont, Sunset Tower Hotel, and The Comedy Store. The frequent pub stops to sit and drink divide the one-mile trek into easily manageable distances; only the last leg to the Comedy Store will test the stamina of inebriated ghost-hunters.
Even without the Halloween overlay, the WeHo Haunted Pub Crawl would be a winner, thanks to marvelous food and drink served in great locations. VIP ticket holders start with a buffet at Pink Taco, including excellent quesadillas, guacamole, queso bean dip, hot wings, and street corn (grilled corn with cotija cheese, chipotle mayo, and chili powder). These are categorized as appetizers, but it's easy enough to make a satisfying meal of them.
Needless to say, there are mucho margaritas on the menu, but we recommend Something Pink, made with Codigo Blanco and fresh prickly pear purée, which you can have served in a souvenir Pink Taco glass for $18 ($13 if you don't want to take the glass home).
At the Den, VIP ticket holders get a free drink, as do a pair of souls brave enough to win a pair of drink tickets by chancing a spectral encounter in a closed-off section of Pink Taco. Just remember that the drink tickets are good only for well drinks - you can get a gin and tonic but not a Tanqueray and Tonic. Not that it matters - the drinks are good and strong.
The Sunset Trocadero offers half-price drinks and appetizers in a gorgeous setting. The soft lighting and dark decor are perfectly suited for a ghost hunt; it only takes a few spider-webs to capture the Halloween vibe. If you have any appetite left after the Pink Taco buffet, try the veggie kabob grilled in teriyaki: it's excellent; there's enough for two; and with the discount it costs only $5!
At the final stop, the Saddle Ranch, everyone gets a shot, cotton candy, and unlimited rides on the mechanical bull - though it's hard to imagine anyone in any kind of condition to hang on for more than a few seconds by this time.
West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl 2017 Review: Ghost Stories
So much for alcoholic spirits - what of the supernatural variety?
What transforms this pub crawl into a Halloween event is the presence of "Gore Guide" Bob (comedian and actor Bob Rubin), who regales listeners with myriad tales of menace and murder. The Sunset Strip was once the stomping ground of mobsters, and many are the victims said to have been rubbed out in hidden tunnels, dressing rooms, and back alleys - some of whose ghosts are said to remain on the premises.
There are stories about a little girl who lingers after death near Pink Taco and a face seen in the rafters of the Den. The late John Belushi allegedly manifests at the Chateau Marmont, where he infamous overdosed. The elevator in the Sunset Tower Hotel has hosted visitors from the great beyond, and there's a tragic tale of a suicide near the Comedy Store.
How seriously these stories are meant to be taken is an open question. Guests are frequently implored to take photos in hope of capturing evidence of paranormal activity that can be posted on the pub crawl's website. However, Gore Guide Bob's tongue seems perpetually embedded in cheek, often punctuating his tales with wry wisecracks. There's a used-car-salesman tinge to his exaggerated proclamations of sincerity, and there's a free-wheeling feel to some of his speeches, as if the details are being embellished to suit the audience or the circumstances, often to hilarious effect. (While regaling us with an account of terrified guests checking out of Chateau Marmont, Bob was fortuitously interrupted by actual guests running out of the hotel's entrance, prompting him to shout, "You see what I'm talking about?")
There is one scare on the WeHo Haunted Pub Crawl, but we won't give it away. Just be advised: if asked to volunteer for an elevator ride to see a ghost, jump at the chance. Only two paranormal investigators will be granted the opportunity, which is good for a scream. You probably will not capture photographic evidence of supernatural activity, but you will howl with laughter.
West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl 2017 Review: Conclusion
We have supped full on Halloween horrors this season - braved the most haunted houses, imbibed the most noxious atmosphere, and felt the foetid breath of a demon that did close behind us tread. After all that, we could really use a drink (or two or three), along with some quesadillas and queso bean dip, served with a heaping side order of ghost stories as hysterical as they are haunting. You may not encounter actual paranormal activity, but you will definitely raise your spirits.
The West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl 2017 continues on October 28 at 7pm, October 29 at 8pm, and Halloween Night at 8pm. Costumes are encouraged but not required. The address for Pink Taco (the pub crawl's starting point) is 8225 W. Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. The website is: www.wehopubcrawl.com.
West Hollywood Haunted Pub Crawl 2017 Ratings
The WeHo Haunted Pub Crawl offers a winning combination of ghastly tales, sordid stories, and delightful drink specials, served with tongue in cheek. You may not encounter actual paranormal activity, but you will definitely raise your spirits.