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The Gryffindor. Photo by Christina Berger

I don’t believe in magic. 

Listen, before you wield your metaphorical pitchforks, I promise I wasn’t that rascal in elementary school who ruined childhoods by telling everyone Santa didn’t exist. I simply believe there’s a practical explanation for most things we experience in life. And, if the movie The Prestige taught me anything, it’s that you can’t trust a magician.

Still, I’m a self-proclaimed “Potterhead” — the charming, if not slightly suggestive, endearment for avid members of Harry Potter fandom. Though it’s been years since I finished the beloved books, I’ll snatch any opportunity to attend HP-themed events. Especially when alcohol is involved, I’m there. Always. (Too soon?)

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The Wizards and Wands Bar Crawl at Texas Live! (1650 E Randol Mill Rd, Arlington, 817-852-6688) provided just such an excuse. “Accio” a good time, right?

Bordering the construction site where Globe Life Field will eventually reside, Texas Live! is a veritable orgy of bars. Baseball appeared on nearly every enormous screen, while neon signs flashed and clubby music blared through the doorways of each establishment within the mall-like complex. I imagine Harry experienced a similar feeling of overwhelming confoundedness when an oafish giant showed up at his door with a birthday cake and told him he was a wizard.

Fifteen galleons granted my fellow Muggles and me entrance to the crawl, along with “riddikulus” tchotchkes, like lensless versions of Harry’s signature bifocals and temporary tattoos with the crests of the Hogwarts houses. Most importantly, our wristbands afforded us Potter-themed drink specials at all six participating pubs.

Throughout the night, my crew flew from one locale to the next, downing cleverly named cocktails and obliviating brain cells. When we occasionally got lost in the maze, all we needed to do was consult our cheapy Marauder’s Maps to find our next destination.

Photo by Sylvia Thenayan

Beginning at Lockhart Smokehouse — a coincidental Potterism in and of itself — we chowed down on barbecue, admiring the Ravenclaw decor and the elaborate costumes worn by a smattering of true enthusiasts. As both a chalky-faced Gellert Grindelwald and a Snape-shaped boggart bedecked in furs strolled by, Luna Lovegood appeared, teetering under a massive lion’s hat — and I lamented not having made more of an effort with my attire.

Each station was decorated with wayfinding balloons and small tokens of the Potterverse: plastic wands and Hogwarts letters suspended from the ceilings, The Daily Prophet tacked onto walls, candles “floating” above the bar tops. At Platform 9¾, my group guzzled the “Harry Shotter,” a kamikaze as pink as Dolores Umbridge’s tweed togs, then re-boarded our hypothetical Hogwarts Express and chugged along to the next station. 

The Gryffindor. Photo by Christina Berger

At Troy’s, the Gryffindor common room, we chose a table beneath strung lights on the patio, enjoying the near-bearable weather and sipping our cherry-vodka-and-grenadine punch, lazily dubbed “Gryffindor.” After we’d wrecked a few life-sized Jenga towers, my troupe ventured once again, this time to enjoy the elixir I most desired — butterbeer. The delicious concoction subtly mixed vanilla vodka, pumpkin beer, and ginger beer, leaving me delightfully tipsy but not quite speaking Parseltongue.

Our penultimate stop, Slytherin’s den, was perhaps the most aptly located. As we navigated PBR Texas, scantily clad women in assless chaps gripped a bucking electrical bull, and the DJ cast a spell that none could break. As if controlled by an Imperius curse, the hordes converged upon the dance floor, our bodies involuntarily stomping and clapping on cue to “Copperhead Road.”

My squad capped off the night in Hufflepuff’s chill chambers, complete with a mini bowling alley and pizza joint. We answered the DJ’s too-easy trivia questions and partook in a golden shot that tasted of pineapple, whose name, inventive or not, I honestly can’t recall.

Wizards and Wands turned out to be as kitschy and enjoyable as I’d imagined a boozy adventure for adult zealots of sorcery would be. Though marginally disappointed not to have encountered a tequila refreshment called “Expecto Patrónum,” the next morning, I woke up feeling like I’d been struck by a bludger — a sure sign of an enchanting evening. Mischief managed.

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