found a place with imaginative cocktails, dry ice creations, glitter, and theme murals from national artists. You will not find a shortage of places to imbibe in a cocktail in Virginia, but I can guarantee that SWITCH provides a unique experience. I first heard about SWITCH from a DW&S Fan and knew that I needed to plan a visit. SWITCH is a pop-up bar in Richmond. It’s a bar with a changing theme. As a matter of fact, by the time you read my story, the theme will have switched again. Keep reading for a hint to the next theme…
It’s two floors of magic…in a cocktail glass and out.
What’s in the name “SWITCH”? This city bar rotates the design and the theme. Themes do not last long—they switch. I was struck with awe at the amount of time and thought that went into the implementation of a theme that only lasts weeks to a few months. It is a package and an experience that treats all of the senses. I’m not just talking about the decor, even the drinks themselves are crafted to fit the theme perfectly.
During my visit to Switch Pop-Up Bar, I enjoyed two themes, an Alice and Wonderland theme called “The Rabbit Glass” on the main floor and downstairs you will go back in time to 1993.
One Saturday, I traveled to the Richmond Arts District to visit Switch Pop-Up Bar. Join me as I step into a world of mixology, fantasy, art, and history.
Upstairs at Switch Pop-Up Bar: The Rabbit Glass
No doubt, you remember Alice in Wonderland from your youth. It is a 150+-year-old story full of fantasy. Lewis Carroll originally wrote the beloved story for Alice Liddell and her sisters. It’s a children’s story that often has an allure for adult readers. Giant clocks, flowers, a Mad Hatter, and a Cheshire Cat all come to life in the story…and they now come to life at SWITCH in Richmond, Virginia.
Walk into Wonderland and have a seat at the Mad Hatter’s table with me. Order a cocktail. If visiting with friends, I suggest the Hendrick’s Tea Party, served with full tea service. This cocktail is made with Hendrick’s gin, Elderberry Lemon Honey Tincture and it serves four.
I ordered The Chesh, which has Butterfly Pea Infused Tito’s Vodka, Passoa, Triple Sec, fresh lemon, and a little simple syrup. This drink was served with the face of the Cheshire cat on the top. It was delicious and beautiful. SWITCH is a mixology dream where even the glassware is customized to the experience.
While enjoying your themed cocktail, be sure to look around. Absorb all the details. The mesmerizing black-lit mural illuminates the entire back wall. You will see murals by local artist Jesse Smith of Loose Screw Tattoo and national artist Miguel De Cuadro. The 3D installations with giant flowers and clocks lining the walls take you right into the pages of Alice in Wonderland. I know that Alice would be impressed.
Downstairs at Switch Pop-Up Bar: In ’93
After an enchanting time in The Rabbit Glass, I head down the rabbit hole (they actually made a rabbit hole!) I was transported back in time to the sites and sounds of 1993.
Remember 1993? We paid $29.98 for a Sony Walkman, watched the X-Files and saw the movie Jurassic Park (for the first time).
In the Switch Pop-Up Bar version of 1993, I found stunningly beautiful murals and perfectly fantastic nostalgia. The details are priceless. It is as if a time machine has transported me to the middle of 1993. I spent an hour in 1993, and the more I looked, the more I appreciated the details.
I note the column of old VHS tapes, Daria painted behind the bar, Madonna watching from the wall, Kurt Cobain to tug on the heartstrings. It’s exceptional.
The 1993 walls feature murals by Ink Master artists Halo and Lalo and Jen Bean from Loose Screw Tattoo. Also, I found paintings from the local mural artist, Nightowl. Switch Pop-Up Bar is not just a cocktail lounge, it is a themed art gallery.
The drinks are hilarious. They reminded me of the popular music and TV shows from the 1990s. How about an Ectocooler or Pete and Pete? Or try an Are You Afraid of the Dark and Stormy. I tried a Dino DNA with Ketel One Botanical– Cucumber & Mint, fresh lemon, raptor and garnished with …..GUSHERS! I saw cocktails garnished with Pop Rocks and candy cigarettes too.
What is next for Switch Pop-Up Bar? I do not know the exact details of the next theme(s), but I do know that it is going to be dramatic and memorable. The entire site will switch on September 13, 2019. I can say that the next theme will also transport you to a world of mystery, magic, and costumes. There will undoubtedly be cocktails to match the new theme. But that’s all I can say. (DW&S will announce the switch on social media too)
I am glad to have had the opportunity to spend time both with Alice and in 1993. It’s hard to believe they are going to change the entire scene, just a few weeks after my visit. The art alone is worth the visit, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Keep a close eye on Switch Pop-Up Bar. It has the vibe to be a stand-out in the Richmond Arts District.
I browse Richmond neighborhoods looking for unique local food and craft beverages. Do you have a favorite Richmond restaurant, beverage, or site? Send me an email: [email protected]
“Nestled in the heart of Richmond’s Arts District, Switch Pop-Up Bar was curated by Managing Partner Crystal Shah and appropriately features artwork from local and national mural artists. Virginia-based LX Group, consisting of Neal Patel and Kunal Shah, has teamed up with Crystal Shah and Jay Sean, multi-platinum recording artist, on this project.”
Visit another cool area in Richmond with a walk in Scotts Addition