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Chicago’s Best Holiday Pop-Up Bars

By / December 12, 2018

The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time for wish list shopping, cookie baking, and, of course, nonstop celebrating. Those who want to dive headfirst into the spirit are in luck, thanks to a handful of holiday pop-up bars throughout Chicago that are bringing with them enough tinsel, tipples, and good tidings for the entire month.

From a debut concept Uptown to a nationwide phenomenon in River North, here are five of Chicago’s best pop-up bars to visit now.


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Through December 31

This beloved holiday pop-up
launched in New York in 2014, and since then, it’s expanded to multiple cities across the nation for a month-long partnership with a special bar in each city. This year’s Chicago outpost is Sable, where the walls are brimming with boughs of holly and plenty of kitschy holiday décor to get every patron in the celebratory spirit. A cocktail menu features 10 Christmas-ready concoctions, including the Gingerbread Flip (with bourbon, gingerbread syrup, a whole egg, and nutmeg) and the Run Run Rudolph (with prosecco, gin, mulled wine, and lemon).


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Through December 23

This is the second year the Chicago Athletic Association will see the arrival of Happy’s, a holiday pop-up reminiscent of retro rec rooms. Expect to see light-up trees, life-size Santas, and tons of tinsel. Take it all in while perusing the drinks list, a medley of seasonal sippers like the Elf on a Shelf (with rye, cranberry, and pomegranate) and the Santa’s Sunny Siesta (with tequila, spiced hot cocoa, and marshmallows). Keep an eye on their calendar — festive programming is scheduled all month long, including holiday bingo on Fridays and karaoke on Saturdays.


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The Office Holiday Pop-Up

Through December 31

Replay bar in Lincoln Park hosted an Office pop-up over the summer — and now, it takes on a holiday theme. As such, expect Dunder Mifflin merriment throughout the venue, thanks to seasonal décor and nods to some of the sitcom’s iconic sights (including the desks of Pam and Jim). Join them for a variety of show-inspired events in the weeks ahead, including “Dwight Christmas” on December 27 and “The Ultimatum” New Year’s Eve celebration on December 31.


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Through January 6

This pop-up offers three levels, four bars, and all-out holiday vibes throughout, including life-size toy soldiers, Santa-clad staff, and a seasonal soundtrack spinning until 4am. Fuel up on snacks like Christmas cookies and festive popcorn, which serve as the ultimate pairings for boozy concoctions like the Baby, It’s Cold Outside martini and Very Merry punch. Book in advance for the bar’s signature BYOB trolley experience, which takes revelers on a lights display tour through the Lincoln Park Zoo and down Michigan Avenue before heading back to the party.


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Santa Baby Bar

Through January 6

The same production team from EDM Festivals and Electric Forest is behind the debut of this holiday pop-up — and their handiwork is as all-out as ever. A handful of holiday-centric spaces contribute to a visit here (from the Alpine Village and Brat Haus Beer Hall to Santa’s Workshop and Winter Wonderland), along with special appearances from the entire Christmas crew: Santa, the Roaming Elf Trio, Rudolph, and Vixen. As if that wasn’t enough, check out the programming — the calendar is chock-full of seasonal excitement, including Movie Mondays, Gingerbread Contest Wednesdays, and Sunday Funday brunches.

Want more? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for ticket giveaways and more of the best happenings around Chicago.


Nicole Schnitzler is a freelance writer who covers​ ​food, drink, ​travel, entertainment, and ​lifestyle. When she is not planning her next adventure​​, she can be found​ ​commuting between bakeries, yoga classes,​ live music shows, and libraries ​in her hometown of ​​Chicago. She is most comfortable with a pen in one hand and a fork in the other. Nicole is also the founder of Doors Open Dishes, an initiative committed to keeping the doors open to the group homes and workshops of individuals with special needs by partnering with chefs and restaurants across the city. Follow her on Twitter (@Write_To_Eat) or on Instagram (@WriteToEat).

More articles by Nicole Schnitzler



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