It’s officially time to break out the twinkly lights, set up Christmas trees, and bust out the ugliest red-and-green sweater around. Many of Chicago’s bars and restaurants are doing the same, as more spots than ever are decking the halls with over-the-top holiday decor, special drinks in souvenir mugs, themed trivia, donation opportunities, and much more. Here are 25 jolly pop-up Christmas and holiday bars across Chicagoland this holiday season.Read More
The Jolliest Holiday and Christmas Pop-Ups Around Chicago
It’s the most wonderful time of the year at these bars and restaurants
Sippin’ Santa at Cortland's Garage Arlington Heights
Suburbanites have their own Christmas pop-up bar at Cortland’s Garage in Arlington Heights. Sippin’ Santa is an outpost of the New York-based pop-up bar network from tiki legend Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, offering signature cocktails, plenty of decorations, and more through New Year’s Eve.
Deck the Halls at Pit & Tap
Texas-style barbecue spot Pit & Tap in suburban Wilmette is celebrating the season with an over-the-top Deck the Halls pop-up, covering every square inch of the space with decorations including nutcrackers, reindeer, wreaths, candy canes and tons of tinsel. Patrons can crank up the merriment during lunch or dinner or just come to try one of the eight themed cocktails through Sunday, January 8.
Lumberjack Lodge at Smoke Daddy
The Wrigleyville barbecue spot has been transformed into a cozy lodge decked out with Christmas trees, skis, logs, garlands and ornaments hanging from the ceiling, and plenty of plaid. Snap some pictures with a seven-foot-tall bear sculpture and order hot cider, frozen eggnog or a shotski of peanut butter whiskey or bourbon cream. The pop-up runs through Jan. 8 and features special events including ice carving on the patio and a white elephant exchange. Make a reservation through Tock.
Mistletoe at Mordecai
For the fourth year, the Wrigleyville bar packs its upstairs space with tinsel, wreaths, ornaments, lights, giant candies and themed throw pillows. The pop-up has its own menu with a mix of contemporary cocktails like the Young Plum (Japanese plum liqueur, rum, madeira, sherry) and drinks that spotlight’s Mordecai’s collection of rare and vintage spirits like a winter old fashioned made with amaro from the 1960s. The pop-up runs through December 23 and reservations are available through Tock.
One of the largest over-the-top Christmas bars, Santa Baby, is back again this year in Wrigleyville. The popular pop-up offers multiple themed spaces and an extensive menu of kooky yuletide creations, including group-size drinks like Christmas Vacation (rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice) and Red Nose Rudolph (vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry energy drink, Sprite). There are also tons of hot and boozy options, plus Christmas spins on classic cocktails and booze-free milkshakes smothered in cookies and candy. The pop-up runs through early January, and reservations are available online.
Elf’d Up at Stretch Bar & Grill
Fans of the popular Will Ferrell Christmas movie Elf can flock to this pop-up. Buddy, the fictional syrup-eating adult elf, makes random visits and you can show how well you know him at weekly Elf trivia nights. Naturally, the bar is touting holiday cocktails such as Naughty Coffee (bourbon, Irish whiskey, maple syrup, caramel coffee) and the Angry Elf Martini (peppermint vodka, cinnamon cream rum, and butterscotch liqueur with a candy cane rim). More details are available online.
Another of Wrigleyville’s most popular pop-ups, Christmas Club at Country Club, is back for another year. The two-floor Christmas party includes three bars offering six naughty and nice shots, house eggnog, and snacks such as pizza-flavored popcorn, a frosted Christmas cookie served with a glass of milk and “Baby Cheesus” battered cheese curds. More details are available online.
Griswold’s at Houndstooth Saloon
The team at Houndstooth Saloon has screeched back in time to 1989 for Griswold’s, a pop-up tribute to holiday film classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The fun starts in the front bar, outfitted to resemble the Griswold family’s living room, and continues into subsequent scenes through the rest of the space. A special menu elaborates on the ‘80s theme (think TV dinners, double-battered fried chicken, and Aunt Bethany’s Jell-O mold), and staff have organized tons of events throughout December such as holiday trivia, an ugly sweater party, and a Twas the Night Before Christmas pajama party.
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Let It Snow at Le Sud
This Roscoe Village restaurant’s Let It Snow pop-up is a family-friendly affair with festive food and drink in its main dining room, salon, and enclosed sidewalk cafe, all decorated for the holiday. Grown-up offerings include rosemary roasted lamb rack (fingerling potato, leek fondue, Madeira jus) and an eponymous “Let It Snow” cocktail (bourbon, cocoa, vanilla whipped cream, salted bourbon brown sugar) for weekday dinner. Young diners can expect familiar hits like macaroni and cheese alongside hot chocolate and apple cider, with 23 percent of sales from the children’s menu going to Audubon Elementary School. Reservations and more details are available online.
Krampus at DMen Tap
A Krampus-themed D&D game, a kids’ Krampus day, and a pop-up market are just the beginning of DMen Tap’s European anti-Santa Krampus pop-up, back for another year in Avondale. A special brew from Revolution Brewing made just for the pop-up called “Fist of Krampus” will be available along with themed margaritas and old fashioneds. The festivities kick off with a parade December 2 and run through December 23.
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A Very Harry Christmas at Replay Lincoln Park
The pop-up aficionados at Replay Lincoln Park brought back a prior hit with Hogwarts-themed A Very Harry Christmas. Revelers can expect intricate decor for top-notch selfies and magical drinks like Butter Beer along with some new options. The pop-up runs through Sunday, January 1 and more details are available online.
Tinseltown at The Pink Squirrel
Book one of the Logan Square bar’s two duckpin bowling lanes or just drop in and grab a booth or a seat at the bar and order a festive drink like the Nine Ladies Dancing (brandy, coconut rum, cognac). Groups can get their party going with a Jolly A.F. package that includes a Ferris wheel filled with cocktails, a gingerbread house-making kit and photos. Running for the third year through January 15, Tinseltown is packed with plenty of its namesake decorations plus ornaments, reindeer, snowflakes, and presents.
Pawlidays at River Shannon
Pup-friendly neighborhood tavern River Shannon is inviting patrons, both human and canine, to celebrate Christmas at its Pawlidays pop-up with festive drinks and seasonal beers (for people), plus thematic treats (for dogs). Attendees can also snap a complimentary pic with their pooch in a decorated photo booth and purchase ugly holiday sweaters at the bar.
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Craft & Cocktails at Antique Taco Wicker Park
Antique Taco and Chicago design brand Mini Studio have joined forces for a holiday makers pop-up that runs through Friday, December 16 in Wicker Park. There’s a cocktail bar with holiday drinks, plenty of festive tunes, and DIY kits and supplies for Christmas crafting.
Frosty's A Christmas Bar
Holiday music plays nonstop from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily through January 1 at the fourth annual Lincoln Park pop-up. The 21+ experience features four bars and two dance floors spread across two levels packed with decorations including giant toy soldiers, ornament-shaped chairs and shining trees. Visit with Santa and sip some themed cocktails or splurge on bottle service. Tickets are available online.
Reindeer Games at Headquarters Beercade
The Nashville pop-up comes to Chicago this year, packing the River North bar with photo opportunities like naughty and nice thrones, a ski lift and Santa’s flying sleigh. Festive drinks include Santa’s Slushie (bourbon cream, cinnamon tequila, honey) and the Fireside Old Fashioned (bourbon, apple brandy and praline liqueur with a toffee garnish). The pop-up is open through December 31 and reservations are available through OpenTable.
A Very Dandy Holiday Pop-Up at The Dandy Crown
Beverage director Sarah Syman provides a very spirited holiday with cocktails emphasizing nostalgia and winter flavors. Warm up with nonalcoholic hot cider or a version spiked with Scotch and spiced cranberry syrup, both of which are served in a souvenir mug. The pop-up runs through Dec. 31 and offers plenty of free events including trivia, photos with Santa, wreath making and an ugly sweater party. Make a reservation on Tock.
Timmy’s Tinseltown at Timothy O'Toole's Pub
Streeterville pub Timothy O’Toole’s has draped its back bar in all things Christmas — think twinkly lights, trees, and nutcrackers — for a Timmy’s Tinseltown pop-up. For some extra holiday cheer, explore a special seasonal drink menu for cocktails like the Christmas Cookie Martini (vanilla vodka, amaretto, butterscotch schnapps) and Santa’s Little Helper shot (vanilla vodka, Kahlua, creme de menthe).
The Christmas Inn: Holidays on Hubbard Street
River North nightclub Hubbard Inn aims to delight celebrants with three floors of Christmas cheer, with an elegant white Christmas on the first floor, a resort on the second and a customizable private party space on the third. Patrons can explore the holiday madness while sipping hot and cold drinks. There are also a wide range of activities like wine tasting, a mixology class, and a weekly holiday trivia night with prizes. The pop-up runs through December 31. Reservations and more details are available online.
Winter Wonderland at JoJo's Shake Bar
Decadent milkshake purveyor Jojo’s Shake Bar has popped up with a heated Winter Wonderland tent in River North to thrill patrons of all ages with a huge display of oversized presents, a massive tree, and other festive decorations. Over-the-top treats include a Santa’s Milk and Cookies Flight and a cookie-studded peppermint Winter Wonderland shake, with special adult selections like Santa’s Sangria and Jingle Juice. Celebrations run through January 8, and reservations are available via OpenTable. The pop-up can also be found at Jojo’s Naperville location.
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Fairmont Lodge at Fairmont Chicago
Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park’s holiday pop-up Fairmont Lodge returns for a second year, decking the halls with tons of light-covered trees and fire pit-inspired tables. It also is offering chances to give back: a portion of sales from the Lodge’s menu, which features fondue, s’mores and hot chocolate, will benefit Make-A-Wish Illinois. The pop-up also hosts cooking and cocktail classes and a Thursday happy hour with holiday music from DJs and acapella groups. Make a reservation through Tock.
Happy’s at Chicago Athletic Association
The Chicago Athletic Association hotel has brought back Happy’s, its popular pop-up bar on the ground floor on Michigan Avenue. Expect decked-out decor with plenty of lights, trees, Santas, stockings and festive music. The top-notch holiday cocktails include egg nog blended with rye, cinnamon whiskey and nutmeg, and the Berry Grinchmas! (tequila, orange curacao, blueberry, lime). Happy’s is open through Friday, December 23.
Our Christmas Carol at Brando's Speakeasy
Instead of caroling in the cold sing, some holiday tunes at the Loop karaoke lounge, which will also be hosting Christmas jazz shows and other holiday-inspired performances. The space has been decorated with custom art depicting Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley, the Ghost of Christmas Present and other characters from Charles Dickens’ classic story of redemption. A menu of novel-themed cocktails includes the Bah Humbug (whiskey, pumpkin chai, lemon, red wine float) and Gin-Gle All the Way (gin, vermouth, rosemary). The pop-up runs through December 31.
Holly Jolly Holiday Bar at Electric Garden
Trimmed like a tree from top to bottom, Electric Garden’s Holly Jolly Holiday Bar has gone all-out with tinsel, ornaments, and lights galore. There are also, of course, Christmas-themed cocktails, with some served in mugs shaped like Santa’s boot.
Reindeer Room at Tack Room
The Thalia Hall piano bar is decked out with lights, tinsel, and ornaments through New Year’s. Performances include a Yuletide cabaret on December 15 and a Christmas Eve sing-along. Get some liquid courage before joining in by ordering a seasonal cocktail like spiked hot chocolate, a gin & tonic blended with house made cranberry syrup, or the Jingle Bird Julep (gin, pineapple, cinnamon, lime, sherry). There’s never a cover.