(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)
What could be more relaxing after a hard day’s work than sitting back with a few friends, sipping a cool cocktail and letting a bunch of rats run all over you? If that’s the kind of thing you’re into I would suggest that you seek out medical counsel. Or, just go to the Rat Bar.
The Rat Bar is actually a pop-up event where drinkers can hold, play and run around with rats. But these aren’t just any typical rodents. They’re safe, clean, domesticated and provided by a not-for-profit organization called the Ratical Rodent Rescue. Oh, and if you happen to take a liking to any of those furry things – and who knows what can happen after a few shots – you even have the chance to adopt one!
I know you can barely contain your excitement. But before you start calling your friends and running to the Rat Bar, you will need to know a few very important things.
For starters, the bar is in San Francisco. Also, it’s just a pop-up and will only be open this week, from 13 June to 15 June. Most importantly, you’re going to need to bring some cash. The entrance fee is $50 and for that you get to watch an hour-long interactive show about the Bay Area’s dark and strange historical past. According to a press release, you will move through different points in time with actors recreating San Francisco’s darkest moments, including the gold rush, Chinatown gangs, Miss Piggott’s saloon (where you’ll get shanghaied), the plague and conclude in – where else – an Alcatraz prison cell with super creepy ghosts. Kind of makes the rats seem like a picnic!
All of this is, of course, nothing more than a marketing campaign to create some buzz for San Francisco’s Dungeon, a tourist attraction which recreates historical events using 360-degree sets, special effects and live actors, not to mention a “dark” boat ride.
I’m guessing the owners of this business know their demographics enough to bet that if potential customers like creepy, dark stuff they certainly wouldn’t mind drinking a few beers or an Ama-Rat-o Sour (yes, that’s the name of one of the drinks and it includes a rat tail) among a bunch of rodents. Oh, and in case you’re worried about the youngsters, virgin “mocktails” are provided for those under 21.
“Let’s be honest – pastries and coffee were nice and all when we hosted the Rat Cafe but that was a lot of work. We thought, F it. This time, get drunk, see our show, touch rats and get drunk some more,’” a representative said. No, I’m not drinking with that guy. Absolutely not.
I wouldn’t expect to see a chain of “rat bars” spreading across the country any time soon. But if you’re a small business owner looking to create brand awareness you have got to admire the idea. A pop-up event for just a few days. Partnering with another business or local charity. Rats. Kudos to the folks at the San Francisco Dungeon (and their PR firm) for coming up with such a unique way to get attention amidst all the noise out there. Hopefully the event will succeed, and more importantly I hope that the idea provides inspiration for other businesses around the country.
As for me, I think I’ll get a six-pack to go.