January 12, 2017

King's Tavern in Natchez, Mississippi

King's Tavern Natchez exterior

photo by: Patrick Keller/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

King's Tavern in Natchez, Mississippi, is known for its hand-crafted cocktails and the ghost that haunts its halls.

Fancy a strong cocktail and a ghost sighting? Then head to King’s Tavern in Natchez, Mississippi.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the oldest building in the Natchez area is said to be haunted. It’s been standing, collecting stories, since the 1760s, when its brick and wood walls were constructed with beams from scrapped sailing ships and barge boards from flat river boats. Originally, it was block house for nearby Fort Panmure. But after the Revolutionary War, the block house became available for purchase, and in 1789, a man by the name of Richard King opened a tavern and an inn in the building. King’s Tavern was born. It operated as a stage stop, a mail station, and a tavern for many years. King sold the building around 1817, and it became a private residence.

Fast-forward to the 1970s: The building was purchased and restored by the Natchez Pilgrimage Garden Club. It later became a restaurant. And in 2013, chef Regina Charboneau and her husband, Doug, bought the building, added a wood-burning oven, and created a menu of small-batch liquors, craft cocktails, and wood-fired flatbreads.

Among the original architectural details and antique furniture decorating King's Tavern today, there’s another old presence inside: The ghost of a tavern waitress and Richard King’s mistress, Madeline. As the story goes, King’s wife stabbed Madeline to death after learning of their affair. And now, centuries later, Madeline’s spirit is said to still walk the halls.

Other unexplained events have occurred in the building throughout the years: sounds of a baby crying in an empty room, mysterious images appearing in mirrors, customers reporting an unseen force pushing them or pulling their hair.

Feeling brave? Here’s what you should know before you go:

Location: 613 Jefferson St., Natchez, MS 39120

Hours: Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sundays, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

You’re Having: Braised brisket flatbread and one of the many seasonal, hand-crafted cocktails. like the RC Cola with Kraken black spiced rum, black cherry cola, angostura bitters, lime, and effervescence.

Don’t Miss It: The tavern offers regular mixology classes. For $35, you can learn the art of cocktail making alongside bartender Ricky Woolfolk.

Best Yelp Review: “Best meal in Natchez! Awesome atmosphere and friendly service. A must when visiting!!”

Best Yelp Review With A Ghost Story: “We found out after we ate that it is supposedly haunted. I generally am skeptical of this, but I found out when I mentioned jokingly to the guy when we paid that the cap on my soft drink literally flew across the table. It was a bottle of root beer. I opened it, and because there was a random fly flying around, I didn't want it getting in my drink, so I laid the cap back on top of the bottle. I did not tighten it at all. When we were waiting for our meal, the top literally flew off the bottle across the table … about 3 feet. I looked at my husband and jokingly said ‘Either there's some crazy carbonation in that drink, or this place is haunted.’ I mentioned it to the guy when we checked out, and he said that it is indeed haunted. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I can tell you what I saw.”

The sight outside King's Tavern Natchez

photo by: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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