In the iconic 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, several key scenes revolve around The Magic Club, a seedy bar set in New York City. The cheesy magic act performed in the club included white doves that mysteriously disappeared from a cage, and Rosanna Arquette’s character, Roberta Glass, being sawed in half.
While The Magic Bar was fictitious, venues across the country now combine magic with memorable drinking experiences. From a trio of lounge-like “magic bars” in Houdini’s hometown of Chicago, to a watering hole where a professional magician polishes up casual card tricks behind the bar in Queens, New York, the following spots provide unforgettable performances. Enjoy the show while you make your drinks disappear.
The Magician | New York City
Located within The NoMad Hotel, a semi-secret, two-hour magic show is hosted in the second-floor Johnston Room. Guests can sip craft cocktails, like the En Maison (Japanese and rye whiskey, amontillado Sherry, Benedictine, maple syrup and coffee bitters) or a selection of wines by the glass and bottle, while they watch magician Dan White perform. The space is intimate, so most of the audience can participate in the illusions. However, it also means that tickets sell out faster than you can say “abracadabra.”
The Chicago Magic Lounge | Chicago
After three years of twice-weekly shows at the Uptown Underground theater, the Chicago Magic Lounge opened a permanent space last year. Guests enter through a laundromat to access the theater and a speakeasy-style bar with Art Deco touches. In addition to headliners on the main stage, visitors can also hang out for “Cocktails & Card Tricks” at the bar, and sample drinks like the Smoke & Mirrors (mezcal, Amaro Montenegro, Letherbee fernet) or Sleight of Hand (gin, Italicus liqueur, lemon).
The Magic Show at The Hollywood Roosevelt | Los Angeles
Illusionist Justin Willman, who stars in the Netflix series Magic for Humans, performs in an unmarked theater on the lower level of The Hollywood Roosevelt. The subterranean venue lends an otherworldly feel that makes the craziness of Hollywood Boulevard seem far away. The drinks program was created by Peter Hansen, director of operations, food and beverage, and Miguel Lopez, lead bartender at Public Kitchen & Bar. It features cocktails that come in flasks, as well as a selection of wine and non-alcoholic drinks.
The Magic Parlour | Chicago
In January, Dennis Watkins celebrated the 1,000th performance of his show, “The Magic Parlour.” Held on Friday and Saturday nights at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, the show features close-up magic and mind-reading tricks. Tickets include wine, beer and soft drinks, or you can visit the hotel’s Lockwood Bar for classic cocktails and an extensive wine list that includes a full page of half-bottles.
The Magic Penthouse | Chicago
This event, hosted monthly at the Kimpton Palomar Hotel, has an upscale party vibe. After the 20-minute kick-off show, magicians roam the floor during the open-bar cocktail party to perform tricks as guests mingle. The Kimpton hotel chain is noted for its extensive drinks program, and craft cocktails and a Champagne reception are part of the evening’s festivities.
Dave Cremin at Cronin & Phelan’s | Queens, NY
At first glance, this Astoria watering hole seems like just another Irish pub. But it boasts self-described “magical bartender” Dave Cremin, an Irish native who has tended bar here for more than two decades. During the week, visitors may find him fine-tuning magic tricks between serving rounds of drinks. On special occasions, he steps out from behind the bar to perform what he describes as “comedy magic.”