Bar operators around the country have been launching holiday pop-ups, transforming their everyday venues into whimsical winter wonderlands. At the heart of these pop-ups are playful holiday-themed drinks—created by mixologists keen to deliver the holiday spirit.
Cocktail Kingdom founder Greg Boehm opened the first iteration of the holiday pop-up bar Miracle at Mace, his East Village cocktail lounge, in 2014. Since then, the festive concept has taken off—Miracle now boasts over 50 franchised locations worldwide. Though bars that adopt the Miracle moniker are encouraged to tweak the design and menu, every pop-up space features custom Cocktail Kingdom glassware, heaps of holiday décor and round-the-clock Christmas music. The master cocktail menu features such drinks ($11) as the Jingle Ball Nog—a blend of Cognac, Amontillado Sherry, peanut butter, almond milk, pandan, cream, nougat syrup, egg and nutmeg—and the Bad Santa, which comprises mulled red wine, tawny Port, orange liqueur, spices and golden raisins. All Miracle pop-ups are open now until December 24th.
Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack
Miracle’s Boehm also co-owns the rights to Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack, a tropical-themed holiday bar that has three locations across New Orleans, Chicago and New York City. The cocktail list is jointly curated by mixologists from each of the three cities, and includes a variety of original tiki concoctions. The venue’s Son of a Nutcracker mixes a blend of rums with Campari, coconut, passionfruit and fresh lemon, while the Frosty Bottoms features Earl Grey vodka, Licor 43, Jamaican rum, cinnamon, fresh orange and lemon. Cocktails are $14. All Sippin’ Santa’s spaces will remain open through Christmas Eve.
Deck the Halls
This seasonal bar has descended upon San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, in the former space of The Square Bar & Grill. Aside from outwardly capturing the Christmas spirit—the bar is adorned with fake felt snow, wrapping paper, a slew of red-and-green decorations and more—Deck the Halls celebrates the spirit of giving, as well; a portion of its proceeds will go towards North Bay wildfire relief efforts. Cocktails, which are served inside ornaments, glass Santa boots or real gingerbread houses, include the Naughty or Nice, a blend of muddled mint, lemon, agave, pomegranate and one of two smashes: “naughty” Creyente Mezcal or “nice” Maestro Dobel Tequila. Deck the Halls is open through New Year’s Day.
Donner and Blitzen’s Reindeer Lounge
This cozy New York City holiday hangout resides within the now-shuttered East Village venue No Malice Palace and features multiple fireplaces, couches, a Christmas tree and string lights aplenty. A number of holiday cocktails ($13) are offered, ranging from the Rudolph’s So Bitter, which comprises Campari, vodka and raspberry cordial, to the Elf Nog—a blend of Fernet-Branca, crème de menthe, cacao and cream. Beer ($5 to $9), cider ($7) and wine ($10) are also available, alongside a small menu of specialty sandwiches ($10). Donner and Blitzen’s Reindeer Lounge is open through January 1st.
Chai-vy and Cohen-y
In response to the flood of Christmas-centric bars, the owners of Washington, D.C.–based Ivy and Coney opened Chai-vy And Cohen-y, a kitschy, Hanukkah-themed pop-up. The space will remain fully decorated with blue-and-white string lights, cut-outs of the Star of David and Menorah memorabilia through New Year’s Eve. Traditional Jewish fare, including potato latkes and matzoh ball soup, replaces the bar’s hot dog–heavy dinner menu. Meanwhile, the drinks menu offers plum brandy, schnapps and Manischewitz’s kosher wines, as well as shots from the “ShotNorah”—a drinking device modeled after the shotski—which eight guests can shoot from at once. Dreidel-spinning contests, gift giveaways and Menorah lighting are also featured. Chai-vy and Cohen-y will remain open through New Year’s Eve.
In Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood, mezcal-focused cocktail bar Leyenda has transformed into Sleyenda, a Latin holiday–themed space that puts special emphasis on Beyoncé and other female pop icons. Custom cocktail and food menus focus on imparting Latin flair on holiday classics. The Nutcracker cocktail comprises pecan infused–Appleton Estate rum, walnut infused–Wild Turkey Bourbon, macadamia nuts and aromatic bitters, while the We Three Queens a boozy concoction of vodka, Mezcal gin, rum, Sherry and vermouth, features an edible snowflake and a outer rim of Frankincense, gold and myrrh. Sleyenda will remain open until through Christmas Eve.
Christmas: A Cocktail Story
Chicago’s CH Distillery has debuted its holiday pop-up, Christmas: A Cocktail Story, for the second year in a row. Nine seasonal cocktails are offered, including the Bad Santa’s Sour ($13)—a mix of CH Bourbon, lemon, egg white and cinnamon—and the Mistletoe Gin & Tonic ($13), comprising CH London Dry gin, winter tonic, lime cordial and rosemary. Festive shots and the Fortune Cookie, a large format cocktail, are also available. Christmas: A Cocktail Story will be open through December 23rd.
The NoMad Holiday Spectacular @ Walker Inn
The owners behind New York City’s famed NoMad Bar have opened a wintery pop-up venue inside of Los Angeles’ The Walker Inn. The Nomad Holiday Spectacular features a number of holiday-themed activities, including DIY ginger bread cookies and visits with Santa. The cocktail list, created by NoMad bar director Leo Robitschek and NoMad bar manager Dave Purcell, is divided into two sections: Naughty and Nice. The Nut King Cole, a “Naughty” cocktail, comprises Guyanese and Guatemalan rums, Amontillado Sherry, roasted chestnuts, Nocino, lemon and egg whites. Meanwhile, the “Nice” cocktail Into the Woods blends Douglas Fir liqueur, Blanc vermouth, maple syrup, lemon and egg whites. The pop-up, which is open through December 19th, comes ahead of the NoMad Hotel’s Los Angeles debut next year.
The Winter Room @ The Roof
The Viceroy Central Park’s rooftop bar, The Roof, has transformed into the Winter Room. The new space, which is adorned with string lights, decorative icicles and holly boughs, will remain open through March 2018, making it one of the longest lasting holiday-fueled pop-ups. Three hot drinks make up the specialty cocktail list—the Rooftop Toddy, which features spiced rum, hot apple cider and a cinnamon stick; the Central Park Sleigh Ride, which blends Belvedere vodka, hot chocolate and vanilla; and The Snowday, which comprises Hennessy VSOP, fresh lemon juice and honey. All cocktails are $18. The Winter Room has also partnered with Veuve Clicquot for “Veuve Clicquot In The Snow,” an enclosed terrace attached to the space that will serve a variety of Veuve and Dom Perignon Champagnes ($$24 to $55 a glass; $150 to 400 a bottle).