Drink With The Devil

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Visit the Basement Tavern in Santa Monica and a presence from its past might keep her eye on you. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

If you’re looking for a nice, creepy dinner this Halloween, listen to Evan’s conversation this Saturday with James T. Bartlett, who’s catalogued tales of crimes and hauntings at eateries around the city in his new book Gourmet Ghosts – Los Angeles.

In the meantime, Bartlett has catalogued a list of places to grab a spooky drink.

Drink With The Devil

By James T. Bartlett, author of Gourmet Ghosts – Los Angeles.

Traxx Restaurant at Union Station (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Traxx Bar at Union Station, Downtown

In October 1931 inspectors found the dismembered bodies of two women in trunks. The guilty murderer was Ruth Judd – nicknamed the “Velvet Tigress” – and she escaped an asylum six times before being released decades later. Relax with a Traxx Martini (two parts Hendricks Gin, a hint of dry Vermouth, and a float of Dubonnet Rouge) and watch the living people arrive.

Basement Tavern, Santa Monica

This building was taken from its foundations and moved here in the early 1970s – and a former owner named “Delia” came too. Staff are used to footsteps, flickering lights and opening doors, and when two of Delia’s nieces visited, they were certain she’d still be hanging around, so the Basement created Delia’s Elixir (bourbon, agave, raspberries and lemon) in her honor.

Culver Hotel, Culver City

The city’s founder had an office on the second floor for years, and the windows regularly open and close – even when there’s no sea breeze. Culver died in 1946, but staff still sees his ghost wandering the corridors. Keep an eye out with a Culver Lemonade (Sagatiba Pura rum, fresh mint, lime, sugar and pomegranate juice).

Invisible Irma at the Magic Castle

Magic Castle, Hollywood

Resident ghost “Invisible Irma” is fun, though she’s been known to play the piano when the power’s out. Also, Loren the bartender is still a favorite at Hat & Hare Bar – even though he passed away many years ago. Order your table a round of Corpse Reviver #2 (Lillet Blanc, gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and a dash of Galliano) – just four will do the trick with the undead.

Biltmore Hotel, Downtown

The original home of the Oscars and the “Sedgewick Hotel” in Ghostbusters, it was also the last place Elizabeth Short was seen alive. Unsurprisingly, the cocktail inspired by her posthumous nickname is their best-seller, so you really have to have a Black Dahlia (Vodka, Chambord black raspberry liqueur, Kahlua).