7 Holiday Pop Up Bars You Can’t Miss


The holidays are a great time of the year. Music is playing, family and friends are making plans, and the festive mood is in the air. There’s nothing like the feeling you get around the holidays, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. One of the things that really add to the holiday spirit is pop up bars. Pop up bars are bars that go all out for the holidays. Usually they take an existing bar and give it a complete makeover for about a month, and then it goes back to normal. Everything is holiday themed and it’s over the top…but in a good way! Christmas decorations, themed-drinks, special mugs and glasses, sometimes they even go as far as a singing Santa and elves. They haven’t always been around, but they’ve been catching on much more in recent years. Everyone loves to go out and grab a drink and when you can get one in an environment as cool as these pop up bars, you don’t want to go anywhere else. There’s a lot of them around the city, but not all pop up bars are created equal. Here’s 7 pop up bars that will make this holiday season extra special.

Frosty’s Christmas Bar

Frosty's Christmas Bar

Frosty’s claims to have been voted the #1 Christmas Bar in Chicago…and we’re not arguing! It has 4 levels and 3 bars of no holds-barred holiday spirit. It is heavy on the decorations with life-sized toy soldiers, lights, wreaths, snow globes, a fireplace, candy canes, photo opportunities with Santa, and more. On my first visit, I quickly came to the realization that Frosty’s has to be one of the most Instagram friendly places in the city. They also have themed drinks, singing Santa’s every hour on the hour, and even a Santa DJ. Ticket packages range from General Admission to a VIP Bottle Experience. They are open from 4pm – 4am every day and will be around until January 5th.



Santa Baby at Deuces Major League Bar

Santa Baby

Deuces Major League Bar is a sports themed bar located in Wrigleyville. However, during the holiday season they transform into Santa Baby, the holiday pop up bar. One thing we know about bars in Wrigleyville is that they do it big, and pop up bars are no different. Santa Baby is multi-level, multi-room, and multi bar! It’s interactive and filled with decorations as far as the eye can see. With Santa Claus spinning the hits, a Gingerbread village, an Alpine Ski Lodge, and themed drinks, you can’t go wrong when you stop by. Keep in mind, one of the things that sets this pop up bar apart from some of the others is that they serve food. You can get an Elf Fashioned, and a Merry Manhattan drink, but you can also chow down on Christmas Dinner Sliders or a Toasted Snowball. Open until January 5th.



Elf’d Up at Stretch Bar and Grill

Christmas Elf

Elf’d up is a pop up bar done that is inspired by the Christmas movie Elf. Stretch Bar and Grill in Wrigleyville transforms into Elf the end of November and runs until January 12th. If you’re a fan of Elf, Will Farrell, or just good times, than this is a place that you have to visit. The decorations run from floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall. There will be over 1000 tiny elves, a Christmas tree, and upside-down Christmas tree, wreaths, movie figurines, and more! Don’t forget that you can’t drink on an empty stomach, which is why each table will be stocked with the four food groups; candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup! In addition to all the other holiday goodness that Elf’d has in store for you, they even convinced Buddy the Elf to stop by. Every Thursday through Saturday, sometime between 9pm and midnight, Buddy makes an appearance at the bar. The energy level cranks up another notch when he walks through the door. There’s also Elf trivia, themed drinks, and quotes from the movie all over the place. It’s Elf overload!



Mistletoe at Hush Money

Holiday Drinks

Hush Money is on the second floor of Hotel Zachary. It started as a part of Mordecai, however it was renamed and focused on drinks while Mordecai focused on food. However, during the holiday season Hush Money becomes Mistletoe. Mistletoe sets itself apart from most of the other pop up bars in the city by focusing more on high-end cocktails in an elegant atmosphere. Some holiday bars overdue it, and critics claim the overabundance of decorations make it look like Christmas threw up in the place, but not Mistletoe. They have a specially crafted cocktail menu with drinks like Santa’s Munchies, Santaclaw’s Basic Reindeer, and Sleighcation. Mistletoe is open through the New Year.



Yippee Ki-Yay at the Sixth

The Sixth is an award winning cocktail bar located in Lincoln Square. However, during the month of December, they’re hosting the Nakatomi Christmas Holiday party. There are a lot of pop up bars during the holidays, and the truth is that a lot of them do the same things. You get many of the same decorations with a few unique twists and turns here and there. Yippee Ki-Yay refused to do the same thing as everyone else and instead of the traditional holiday theme, they decided to change the game. Their pop up bar is inspired by a classic movie, Die Hard. There is an ongoing debate among hard-core fans on whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but what isn’t debatable is how cool a holiday bar with a Die Hard theme is. The movie decorations make for some awesome photo opportunities and since The Sixth is famous for their cocktails, they went all out and made Die Hard themed ones. A Nakatomi Plaza, So Long, Hans, and So Light ‘Em if You Got ‘Em, are just a few of the special drinks on the menu. Open every day except Monday during the month of December.



Santa’s Workshop at the Old Crow Smokehouse

During the holiday season the Old Crow Smokehouse becomes Santa’s Workshop. There is an 18-foot Christmas tree decked out in ornaments and two 12-foot rocking horses that scream It’s the Holidays! Come out, enjoy time with Santa, and get in on the photo opportunities that only a place of this size can offer. Even the rooftop is in on the action. There are four cabanas, fireplaces, and space heaters so the fun doesn’t have to stay indoors.



Christmas with the Griswold’s at Houndstooth Saloon

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was always one of my favorite holiday movies and Houndstooth Saloon has outdone themselves by doing their pop up bar in a theme inspired by the movie. Christmas with the Griswold’s is awesome! They made sure to do it all here, and it’s hilarious. The bar has been transformed into the Griswold’s living room, Cousin Eddie’s RV is parked out front, and the back even has a burnt Christmas tree…poor cat.