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Pubs we love: Haunted bars

Halloween’s just around the corner; stop by these bars for your fill of frights and pints.
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Old Town Pizza & Brewing | Photo by Jordan Wilson

Portland, Oregon // OLD TOWN PIZZA & BREWING
A seemingly innocuous seating area in this former hotel lobby in fact occupies the defunct elevator shaft where a young prostitute named Nina was pushed to her demise around the turn of the 20th century. Today, taproom staff report flying kitchen utensils and possessed faucets—not to mention the wandering specter of a young woman. Sip on Old Town flagship Shanghai’d IPA, a juicy GABF gold medalist whose name alludes to Portland’s eerie underground tunnels, allegedly once used to ferry unwitting sailors into slavery. Even skeptics will get behind the Ghost Pie, a tasty hand-tossed white pizza topped with chicken, basil, garlic, mushrooms and roasted red pepper. 226 NW Davis St., oldtownpizza.com

Milwaukee, Wisconsin // SHAKERS CIGAR BAR
From the so-called “shadow people” who skulk around the basement to apparitions that appear in the artwork, this Victorian-era property is so abuzz with paranormal activity it’s home to a popular ghost tour. Gutsy spirit seekers can book the upstairs suite, an erstwhile brothel reputed to be haunted—perhaps by the murdered prostitute whose remains were buried on-site. Stay on theme with a pint of Shadow People, a dark-as-night schwarzbier brewed exclusively for the bar by classic Milwaukee outfit Sprecher. Dig into devilishly spicy global fare like Cajun garlic shrimp and Thai larb salad. 422 S. 2nd St., shakerscigarbar.com

Austin, Texas // THE TAVERN
During a Prohibition-era stint as (what else?) a brothel and speakeasy, this pub witnessed a violent brawl that claimed the life of innocent bystander Emily, the child of a resident prostitute. Inexplicable encounters like audible sobbing emanating from an empty bathroom stall and footsteps heard after closing time have led current staff members to conclude that Emily’s ghost lives on. Steady your nerves with the crisp and just slightly caramel Blur hefeweizen from Austin’s own Circle Brewing Co. or choose from one of nine other rotating drafts. Piquant and meaty, the jalapeño and bacon-wrapped Amazing White Wings just might haunt your dreams. 922 W. 12th St., tavernaustin.com

Baltimore, Maryland // THE WHARF RAT
Situated in an 18th-century building in Fell’s Point, a waterfront district that was once a bustling port of call for rough-and-tumble sailors, it seems inevitable that this pub should claim a ghost or two. A frequent presence is John Rutkowski, a former proprietor who was shot by a customer; he’s said to tap employees on the shoulder or peer out the front window. Make like an old-time sailor on shore leave with a pint of ale off one of the bar’s five hand-pull taps, regularly featuring casks from Heavy Seas Beer, Yards Brewing Co. and Oliver Brewing. From lump crab pizza to crab cakes to crab soup, the menu abounds with creepy-crawlies of the delicious kind. 801 S. Ann St., thewharfrat.com

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