Friday Jul 14, 2017
Claim your rightful place upon the Iron Throne, or drink a cocktail of Shame, Queen Cersei-style -- the choice is yours, once you brave the hour-long queue snaking out the door.
As Game of Thrones returns for its penultimate season Sunday, fans of the award-winning fantasy epic are getting an early fix at a pop-up bar in Washington, complete with a fire-breathing dragon, coats of armour and bartenders who are dressed the part.
The unmarked venue, on a non-descript street in the US capital, has laid the decor on thick -- revelers make their way through a warren of rooms, each reminiscent of a scene from the wildly popular TV fable.
Every now and then, the star attraction -- an animatronic dragon -- fills the air with a fearsome roar, smoke spewing and fiery lights flashing in its mouth, in a nod to Daenerys Targaryen, the so-called "Mother of Dragons" who reared three of the beasts as her own.
The other dragon siblings are painted on a mural in this popular watering hole, called the Game of Thrones Pop-Up Bar, or GOT PUB.
"We waited for an hour-and-a-half but it was really worth it. The decor is very creative, very realistic. I like the different rooms," said Rebecca Briere, a physician's assistant.
"It's amazing, especially the dragon."
Fashioned from three connected storefronts, the bar has a limited shelf life: it opened in late June and will remain open until August 27, closing early on Sundays when fans will presumably be home getting their weekly TV fix.
"We want to treat this as the holy hour," said Paul Taylor, senior bar manager for The Drink Company, which is behind the project. "Watching a show in a bar for me is disappointing. You can't hear anything.
Televisions would be out of place anyway in the bar's maze-like rooms, which have been packed with between 900 and 1,500 people every day amid the excitement over the soon-to-premiere season seven of "Thrones."
Walk in and above you, spread across the ceiling, are the mighty white branches and red leaves of a Weirwood -- one of the sacred trees that triggers visions in the young Bran Stark.
In a niche in the wall is a standing sculpture of a wolf howling into the night sky -- the symbol of House Stark, the millennia-old rulers of the North of Westeros.
To the right, lies the House of Black and White -- a temple in the city of Braavos where people go to die -- eerily recreated with walls covered in plaster faces, although in this case the faces belong to the owner of The Drink Company, volunteers who built the sets and some friends.
Punters can also pose seated on the Iron Throne wearing a fur cloak and holding the royal scepter.
For the privilege, simply sign up -- then wait, and wait some more for a text message from a guardian telling you your turn has come to claim the throne.
One group had been waiting 117 minutes and counting.
That is where the cocktails come in -- with the people's choice among the dozen or so themed drinks on offer settling on a concoction called Shame.
Back story: in the finale to the show's season five, the fallen queen Cersei Lannister confesses to adultery and must take a naked walk of penance through the streets in a brutal public shaming.
Made of tequila, gin, tonic water and grapefruit juice, the cocktail is served up with a spiel from the show: the bartender rings a bell three times and during each pause, everybody yells "Shame!"