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Spells, Spooks & Shenanigans

For the team behind ReRoll Tavern and Vignettes pop-up bars, Halloween is all fun and games

Legendary horror film actor Vincent Price once said, “It’s as much fun to scare as to be scared.” He should know because his presence made moviegoers shudder for decades and his maniacal laugh in Thriller only added to its unearthly fanfare. This time of year, we can take a little advice from Vincent as we cross over to the dark side for Halloween.

“Double, Double Toil and Trouble/Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble” ~ Macbeth: Halloween-themed cocktails

Looking for a spine-chilling cocktail for Halloween night? Perhaps a seasonal “spirit” that pairs well with candy corn or the chocolate stash intended for trick-or-treaters? Ed Schmalz, co-owner and creative megamind behind board game bar ReRoll Tavern, and pop-up bars Vignettes and Apparition in North Kansas City, provides a few drink recipes from their spookalicious vault:

Monster Squad 

Designed by Sam Cable

Described by Ed as embodying the taste of fall, he would build the following Monster Squad recipe in a punch bowl and make the most of the experience by pairing it with a candied apple.

  • 6 oz Applejack 

  • 1 oz Allspice Dram

  • 16 dashes of Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters

  • 8 ounces apple cider 

  • 2 oz lemon juice

  • 12 oz of ginger beer

Directions: Stir ingredients together. Add dry ice and garnish with nutmeg and cinnamon


Ed describes the taste of this one as wonderfully “bizarre” and recommends the recipe for those looking to shake things up and live on the wild side.

  • .75 oz Union Horse Rye Whiskey

  • .75 oz Genepy

  • .75 oz Big O Ginger Liqueur

  • .75 oz Lemon

Directions: Rim one-third of a coupe glass with Szechuan peppercorns. Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass. 

“We all go a little mad sometimes.” ~ Psycho: Spooky board games to play at home

We might get a little competitive in board games, but let’s hope we don’t go the Norman Bates route. ReRoll Tavern is a board game lover’s dream, with over 500 games to choose from, and Ed likes to see players of all different ages and levels enjoy the fun (kids are welcome!).

When it comes to ideas for Friday game nights at home, Ed has a few ideas this season. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is a board game for up to five players (ages 14+). He also suggests Unspeakable Words, described by its own game makers as a “devious word game that will eat at your sanity.”

Although ReRoll is a favorite hangout for Dungeons and Dragons fans, Ed mentions that a kid-friendly version of the game is also available and they have a game option for everyone. For fans of a certain 80s-based suspense show, however, ReRoll provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about the game that captivated its characters. “This will be a great opportunity for individuals to learn about Dungeons and Dragons from Stranger Things,” he says.

Speaking of Stranger Things….

“Back when I was a kid, everybody knew the name Victor Creel.” ~ Stranger Things: A scoop on the Hawkins-themed pop-up bar coming to NKC

If you don’t know the name Victor Creel, that means you have some catching up to do on Stranger Things. The show, known to crash Netflix when new episodes are released, is the theme of a new bar open in North Kansas City for a pop-up experience. Vignettes — a pop-up bar hot spot next door to ReRoll — is turning things into the “upside down” for those who understand that “surfer boy” has nothing to do with the beach and frozen waffles are kind of their own character.

“We’re turning the whole place into Hawkins,” Ed says. “We have artists who are creating beautiful set pieces. We’ll have Surfer Boy pizza, and we always have live music on Friday and Saturday as part of that.” 

And, although weekdays allow for a younger crowd to enjoy the experience, weekends are designated for those 21+ to sample an impressive selection of custom drinks. 

“(Bartender) Scott Helling is the master of the drinks,” Ed says. “He creates horror movies in a cup.”

While Vignettes will transport you to Hawkins, Indiana, you should make the most of the experience by embracing the 1980s. Servers will be in costume and Ed teases that one will channel Eddie Munson and be there jamming. Are you an Eleven or a Max? Dusty or Steve? Or, perhaps you just want to come as one of the background mall shoppers with a fluorescent pink hair bow and off-the-shoulder sweatshirt. A few ideas to come in costume (it is Halloween season, after all!):

  • Make your own Walkman prop using a small box, construction paper, a black marker (to draw the cassette tape design), and wired earbuds. You might not be able to actually play “Running Up That Hill,” but you can always hum it.

  • String some large colorful beads on a string for an 80s-worthy necklace and bracelet set.

  • We’re lucky that vintage tee shirts are all the craze and easy to find these days! Pair that MTV shirt with pink shorts and knee-high socks for a look that (hopefully) will never come back.

  • Ed says wearing any Halloween costume is perfectly acceptable because Stranger Things embraced the holiday. Remember, Michael Myers pops up rather regularly throughout the series.

Other Pop-ups to enjoy this Halloween

If Stranger Things isn’t your cup of tea, it’s not the only Halloween-themed pop-up in Kansas City this fall! Here are two other pop-up bars for the holiday, brought to you by Ed and his team at Vignettes: 

Beetlebar: A Beetlejuice-themed bar will be popping up in the Iron District in North Kansas City from Sept. 16 to October 31, allowing you to celebrate more than one Winona Ryder vehicle this season. The bar is designed in collaboration with Nick Padgett of Padgett Productions

Sanderson Sisters and Spirits: Fans of Hocus Pocus will be able to celebrate with the Sanderson Sisters well before the sequel, Hocus Pocus 2, releases. You can visit the themed pop-up bar from September 16 to October 31 at 4601 Shawanee Drive in Shawnee.

Rocky Horror Pop-up Bar: Located in the center of all things horror in Kansas City, this West Bottoms pop-up bar is dedicated to the classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. Find it at 1717 West 9th Street starting September 23rd.

  • Photo by Katie Currid
  • Photo by Katie Currid