Bottle and Barlow reprised its annual tradition of including mischievous gremlins among its Christmas decorations. (Photo courtesy of Bottle and Barlow)

Enjoy the Holiday Season at a Festive Pop-Up Bar

Highly decorated spots offer specialty-themed drinks and winter vibes

Back Web Only Dec 22, 2023 By Judy Farah

If you can’t get enough of the holiday season and want to surround yourself with sparkling, glittering decorations while sipping on a craft cocktail adorned with cranberries and sprigs of rosemary, a pop-up bar is just for you. More than a half-dozen local spots have created Instagrammable winter wonderlands for you to take some time to relax and enjoy.

Take Club Blitzen at the Trophy Club bar, a speakeasy in DOCO that you enter through a secret door and a shimmering curtain of lights. You can sit on pine green leather couches while gazing at framed portraits of Dasher, Dancer and Blitzen and order a Naughty Toddy or Peppermint Paddy drink.

Walk across the plaza to the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel, which is hosting the alpine-themed Winter Chalet that offers small seasonal bites like Meyer lemon and blueberry scones, boozy eggnog or spirit-spiked coffee or hot cocoa. Winter Chalet also offers a card writing station where you can write to Santa and live music on the weekends. It will remain open until Feb. 29. 

Over on R Street, the Gremlins have returned! Bottle and Barlow’s annual tradition is back by popular demand and has evolved into a real spectacle. The mischievous decorations swing from light fixtures, spin around in a blender and pop out of hiding places behind colorful Christmas decor. But what about the drinks? The bar serves dynamic seasonal cocktails in aesthetic glasses, like Figgy Puddin’ (brandy, creme de cacao, sweet vermouth and black walnut bitters) and a warming Mexican hot chocolate drink that features mezcal, peppermint and mole whipped cream. 

Two local bars are creations of Miracle, a New York-based company that has been launching Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bars around the U.S. and internationally since 2014. 

The Snug downtown invites you to the Miracle on R Street, an over-the-top, kitschy Christmas-themed bar complete with candy cane print tables, a giant Santa and a framed portrait of Kevin from “Home Alone.” Miracle on R Street isn’t skimping on the craft cocktails. Take the Carol Barrell, a concoction of Irish whiskey, Jamaica Navy strength rum, banana liqueur, Guinness punch, lime juice, chocolate bitters and nutmeg served in a ceramic barrel. 

Drinks at The Butterscotch Den’s Miracle on Broadway pop-up include cocktails like The Krampus, Hot Buttered Rum and Jingle Balls Nog. (Photo courtesy of Cory McGill)

Another Miracle pop-up, The Butterscotch Den’s Miracle on Broadway, also leans into the kitsch, covering every inch of its cave-like interior with incredible amounts of tinsel. The result is a dark and cozy mid-century atmosphere with a cheeky “adult” flair. There’s the Krampus (reposado tequila, oloroso sherry, allspice dram, mezcal, ginger, hibiscus, lime and hellfire bitters), served in a monstrous mug, and Jingle Balls Nog, and candles decorated with copulating reindeer. Of course, you can always cook up your own ribeye on the Den’s giant indoor BBQ.

Filthy Gorgeous Tiger on K Street was already an elaborate night spot but managed to notch the decor up more for the holidays this year with a lot of glittering tinsel and silvery lights. Midtown Spirits, a distillery in the heart of Midtown on 19th Street, also shines with curtains of lights. The menu features hot spirits like wassail gin punch, chai hot toddy and apple cinnamon apple cider. 

Bodega Sacramento on Riverside Boulevard, which usually has a California Caribbean flair, is a swirl of color in December with a lifesize Nutcracker statue, miniature Santa express, gigantic candy cane popsicles and a “Sleigh All Day” theme with flaming drinks alongside a cozy fireplace. 

Most of these pop-ups will remain open through Dec. 31, but some are extending festivities into January.

- by Judy Farah and Dakota Morlan

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