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Two dinosaur with santa hat shaped cups. With ornaments in the background. Miracle

Get Into the Holiday Spirit at These Christmas-Themed Bar Pop-Ups in Metro Detroit

Boozy egg nogs, Grinch drink, and Rumchata-filled hot cocoa

Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

Sweater weather has returned, so why not put on your ugliest Christmas sweater and hit the town with the friends at the many holiday pop-up bars that crop up this time of year. Part of an ever growing tradition in the region and elsewhere, these temporary Santa saloons invite folks to sip festive cocktails served in kitschy goblets. 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. In addition, Miracle will also take up residency at Dragonfly in Detroit’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood.

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.


Pop-Ups

Blitzen’s on Bagley (2545 Bagley Street) — This Hubbard Richard neighborhood spot has been playing dress up for the past year now, with its ever-changing rotation of holiday themes. This season, Blitzen’s of Bagley has returned through early January, with Christmas-centric libations like the vodka-based, green Grinch Punch, spiked egg nog, and hard hot cocoa with choice of Rumchata, Bailey’s, for Fireball.

Los Altos (7056 Vernor Highway) — Feliz navidad at Los Altos, where the bar area of the otherwise family-friendly spot has been transformed into Winter Wonderland, southwest Detroit style, complete with sparkly lights, garlands, nutcrackers, and other seasonal decor, which beautifully complements the interior’s colorful papel picado and murals by “SW” Freddy Diaz. To drink, general manager Eddie Vargas has whipped up a cheerful cocktail menu with options like the Christmas Tree Paloma with hibiscus syrup; the White Christmas with Rumchata, ginger brandy, pineapple-coconut nectar, and cranberries; or the Ms. Claus with Abuelita chocolate, vanilla vodka, Bailey’s, cream, sprinkles, and marshmallows. Round out the spirited drinks with a warm bowl of caldo or birria and you’ll be jolly for days.

The interior of Los Altos in southwest Detroit, Michigan.
The fiesta vibes at Los Altos already lend themselves to holiday cheer
Serena Maria Daniels

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, this year’s offerings include the Merry Spritzmas with prosecco or a run-based Jingle Bird made with pineapple rum (and juice), Campari, lime, and “jingle mix.” 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 through the end of November.

The Oakland (201 W. 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale) and Dragonfly (2929 E Grand Boulevard) — The Miracle at The Oakland pop-up bar also makes its return. This year, Dragonfly (also owned by the Oakland proprietor Sandy Levine) also joined in on the fun. Similar in concept as the Sippin’ Santa, Miracle will also don over-the-top decorations and its own line of specialty, holiday-themed takes on classic cocktails, like the Christmapolitan, a Snowball Old Fashioned with a giant ball-shaped hunk of ice, an apple-spiced and eucalyptus bitters-infused Koala Cooler, and a rum-based Yippie Ki Yay Mother F*****!. As in previous years, 10 percent of proceeds from glassware sales at both the Sippin’ Santa and Miracle pop-ups will go the Seva Foundation. Miracle runs through the end of December.

Many Santa sculptures and one Santa mug. With candy canes and ornaments. Miracle

JoJo’s ShakeBAR (88 W Columbia St) — Beginning November 18, JoJo’s has joined the rest of the District Detroit entertainment area in the holiday fun, by decorating the space with an eight-foot tall nutcracker, oversized ornaments, thousands of string lights, and more. Margarita fans can order the spot’s Patrón tequila tree, featuring four mini bottles filled with classic, blackberry, passion fruit, and strawberry-flavored margaritas. For fans of JoJo’s namesake shakes, there’s the Winter Wonderland Biggie Shake — a peppermint-flavored shake topped with a Christmas tree-shaped cookie, a marshmallow present, mini candy cane, and a snowman made out of doughnut holes. For family-friendly activities, JoJo’s is offering a mix of Santa workshops, including ornament painting, wreath making, and gingerbread house construction. For the over-21 crowd, there’s a mixology class.

Bandit Tavern & Hideaway (419 S Main St, Royal Oak) — Newly opened Royal Oak spot Bandit Tavern promises to use the lower level of the space known at Hideaway Bar for playful pop-up themes, including this year’s offering, Griswold’s Hideaway, a holiday bar inspired by the classic holiday flick, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Take sips of Cousin Eddie’s Eggnog (with an option to have them served in Wally World moose mugs, which are available for sale), and other on-brand drinks like the Hallelujah! Where’s The Tylenol?, Uncle Lewis’ Ol Fashioned, and Aunt Bethany’s Jello Shot. Griswold’s Hideaway runs 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, November 30, 2023 to January 6. Movie-themed attire is encouraged. Sorry, no squirrels allowed.

FrameBAR (23839 John R Rd #1, Hazel Park) — The always transforming FrameBAR will continue its evolution this holiday season with Transylvanian Christmas taking place December 15 and 16. Holiday lighting sets the mood, while diners can indulge on dishes like a creamy wild mushroom polenta or pork shoulder steak and fries.

The Iron Gate Wyandotte (3019 Biddle Ave, Wyandotte) — Downriver folks can enjoy a bit of Christmas decor, holiday-themed drinks, and food. Reservations are recommended and for parties of eight or more are asked to email events@irongatebarwyandotte.com.

Sylvan Table (1819 Inverness St, Sylvan Lake) — The modern, but rustic Sylvan Table is joining the holiday pop-up festivities December 1 through 3, December 8 through 10, and December 14 through 28. Christmas cocktails and bar snacks will be accompanied by season-appropriate music, moves, and games.

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