It took awhile this year, but metro Detroit has finally gotten to sweater weather and that means the return of the holiday pop-up bar. Part of an ever growing tradition in the region and elsewhere, this is the time of year to sip festive cocktails served in Santa head mugs, sing carols with buddies bar-side, and get into the spirit of the season whilst wearing that ugly sweater. Returning this year, both the Miracle and tropical drink-style Sippin’ Santa pop-ups will are taking over the Oakland Art Novelty Company in Ferndale and the Skip in downtown Detroit.
Greg Boehm of Mace in New York is the creator behind the international pop-ups, who developed the seasonal events several years ago to promote his line of Cocktail Kingdom barware. Elsewhere, a handful of other Detroit area bars are getting in on the action by transforming their spots into spaces fit for Santa’s elves after they’ve gotten off work at the ol’ toy factory. Here’s a small peek at some of the bars that are partaking in the holiday spirit.
Blitzen’s on Bagley (2545 Bagley Street) — This Hubbard Richard neighborhood spot, formerly occupied by Bagley Central has undergone merry holiday makeover Blitzen’s on Bagley — a pop-up tavern that opened its door on Thursday, November 10. Expect seasonal libations like the vodka-based, green Grinch Punch, spiked egg nog, and hard hot cocoa with choice of Rumchata, Bailey’s, for Fireball. The kitschy holiday decor was prepared by the children of owners InLaws Hospitality (cute), and for folks in need of a small bite, neighbors, Shell Shock’d Tacos and Goblin Sushi are available for takeout. For those who insist that the holiday season is not complete without cookies, the crew brought on Anna Bolz — formerly a pastry chef at Per Se in NYC and now a baker at Warda Patisserie — who’s preparing fresh-baked Christmas cookies, along with a gingerbread house community that sits above the bar.
The Skip (1234 The Belt) — The Sippin’ Santa pop-up bar returns to The Skip downtown featuring no shortage of kitschy, festive decor and a tropical-themed cocktail menu. Along with its popular classic drink standbys, new cocktails the Island of Misfit Toys, Jingle Bird, Yule Tide, Undertow Toddy, and Rudolph’s Rum Rhapsody. Organizers of the event will donate 10 percent of all proceeds from the sale of the pop-up’s signature glassware to the global nonprofit eye ware organization, Seva Foundation. Sippin’ Santa runs November 25 through December 31.
The Oakland (201 W. 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale) — The Miracle at The Oakland pop-up bar also makes. Similar in concept as the Sippin’ Santa, Miracle will also don over-the-top decorations and its own line of specialty, holiday-themed drinks like the Santa Little Helper, Christmas Cricket, Holiday Spiked Chai, and Grandma Got Run Over By A T-Rex. And just like the downtown event, 10 percent of proceeds from glassware sales will go the Seva Foundation. Miracle runs November 23 through December 30.
Other Seasonal Offerings
Frame (23839 John R Rd #1, Hazel Park) — In addition to its rotation of featured ticketed pop-up dining events calendar, the Frame Bar is featuring a lineup of holiday-themed drinks created by resident “mixtress” Jaz’min Weaver. Seasonal cocktails include the Catch Me if You Can, a gingerbread cookie themed whiskey sour, the sugar cookie-inspired cocktail Clausmopolitan, a chocolate peppermint zero-proof soda, and for Hanukkah, a gelt cocktail for Hanukkah featuring Frame’s privately labeled and bottled cask strength bourbon hand-picked at the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Kentucky.
Last Chance Bar (1830 Michigan Ave.) — Corktown’s newest “dive” bar is gearing up to release its own limited holiday cocktail menu. In addition to the spot’s gloriously absurd seasonal decor (including this cleaver SNL reference displayed in the window), the drink offerings will include the tropical Mele Kalikimaka with rum, chartreuse, pineapple, lemon, and orgeat; Santa’s Flask with cognac, rye, Fernet Branca Menta, and Callebaut chocolate; the Reindeer Punch with bourbon, apple cider, orange, cranberry, cinnamon, and allspice; and more.
Bumbo’s (3001 Holbrook St, Hamtramck) — Hamtramckans in the know already love the cozy, retro vibes of Bumbo’s so it should come as no surprise that the friendly neighborhood spot offers a warm little something special this time of year to add to the cheer. Owner Tia Fletcher tells Eater that the bar’s currently pouring four hot drink options: a chamomile-infused rye hot toddy; a cinnamon Irish coffee; a hot spicy branch; and hot cocoa with Genepy liqueur.