Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has leapt from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe into a popular South Milwaukee pub.
No, you don’t need to find Platform 9¾, you just need to visit Moran’s Pub, 912 Milwaukee Ave., during October to experience Moran’s School of Witchcraft.
The pop-up event called “Wizard World,” came from the mind of local artist Lauren Marvell who called it a “not so subtle dedication to our favorite witch (and) wizard books.”
Marvell and pub owner James Moran met at Avenue Coffeehouse in South Milwaukee during a gallery night in 2018 featuring Marvell’s work. She’d created a booklet of Christmas cocktails which Moran liked and purchased. Since then, the two have kept in contact and she has done some design work for the pub.
This idea came after Marvell threw a Harry Potter-themed birthday party for her boyfriend.
“It was originally an elaborate birthday party,” she said. “I just wanted an opportunity to use it all over again.”
She proposed the pop-up to Moran.
“It was a bit wacky,” he said. “I do have a lot of trust in her, she’s been great to work with.”
The premade decorations made it easy to transform the Irish pub into a fantasy land of wizards who just happen to enjoy some special cocktails.
Several specialty drinks are available for the pop-up. The best, according to both Marvell and Moran, is the “Irish Butterbeer.” Classic, non-alcoholic butterbeer is also available.
Guinness representatives will be on-site on Oct. 21 to add more magic bringing with them a special machine that can print photos onto the beer foam.
Guinness is also sponsoring a special event called “A tipsy recitation of our favorite wizard books.” Participants will read excerpts from the Harry Potter book series after having a couple cocktails.
Other than the Irish Butterbeer, the “Love Potion” (gin with lemon juice, homemade simple syrups and cherry juice) and the “Dementor” (similar to a black and tan) are available to help the event along. Booze-soaked rainbow gummy worms in a shot called “Eat Slugs” is also available.
The pop-up will be interactive
Moran said what sets this pop-up apart are the events which make it “more interactive.” Wizard-based games are on tap with themes of a scavenger hunt, a dice game, a paper airplane game and more on Oct. 15.
Other events include a beer pong tournament on Oct. 22, Halloween crafts on Oct. 27 and a costume party on Oct. 29.
The environment melds the old-world wood décor well with the wizardry elements and an autumnal vibe. Signs, knick-knacks and books, all purchased from local thrift stores, are strewn about the pub.
One item, however, a fireplace, was a Facebook Marketplace purchase specifically to recreate a scene from the series where letters fly in letting Harry know he’d been accepted to Hogwarts.
Marvell, her boyfriend, sister and Moran worked 16-hour days to get the pop-up set up on time.
“Task by task, we just hammered things out,” Moran said.
In addition to the drinks and décor, some culinary delights are part of the pop-up with Avenue Coffeehouse bringing some special doughnuts from their second business, Supernova Coffee & Doughnuts at the 3rd Street Market Hall in Milwaukee.
The treats already made an appearance this month at Moran’s and were such a hit they will be brought back on Oct. 30.
A special buy-in raffle called the “Wizardry School Letter” is also offered where patrons can purchase $3 letters Marvell made to replicate acceptance and rejection letters from Hogwarts – but instead to Moran’s School of Witchcraft. There’s only one acceptance letter and whoever gets that one wins a prize. Once a winner comes forward another acceptance letter is put into the pile.
Moran said he has no set number of winners planned for various prizes. At least 100 letters have already been sold and there was one winner who received a quarter-barrel party. Future winners could get a “basket of wizardry goods and cocktails,” Marvell said.
For those who sadly get rejection letters, they can still get a piece of the action by purchasing a “Wizard Pack” for $25 filled with Harry Potter glasses, a scar tattoo, Golden Snitch candy, plastic cauldron mug, a ticket for a free mule at Moran’s and a homemade wand.
Once the Wizard World pop-up is completed some of the items may be auctioned off. Will Moran’s School of Witchcraft stay open a little longer than planned, or come back next year?
“That’s the magic question,” Moran said, smiling.
So, sadly no answer has been set in the sorcerer’s stone.
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