It’s high time for some festive shenanigans, so don your gayest apparel, gather your merriest crew and hit up these holiday pop-up bars in Chicago.
Be a Do-Gooding Drinker
Kick off the season of excess on an altruistic note: Now through December 2, the Logan Square pop-up space owned by Emporium is festively bedecked for a brief run as Goodbar, donating a hefty portion of the proceeds from your tab to local charities such as Hope For The Day. It’s also a spot to donate toys and non-perishables to organizations like Toys For Tots and the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Achieve Peak Jolly
Back for an encore this year, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel’s holidaypalooza, “Happy’s,” has all ingredients for festive boozing: seasonal tunes, twinkling lights aplenty and yuletide cocktails from beverage director extraordinaire Paul McGee (warm your insides with “It’s a Wonderful Nog”—a mélange of rums, sherry, egg, cream, ginger and nutmeg). There will also be nightly programming in the form of karaoke, a craft market and even a live performance of Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The fun runs through December 23.
Release that inner Grinch at Ludlow Liquors’ bah humbug-themed “Christmas Sucks” pop-up. Through New Year’s Day, you’ll find the space decked in images of terrified tykes on Santa’s lap, tragic family Christmas photos and other unsettling holiday trimmings. Boycott the traditional yuletide cocktails with a spiced “Not Buttered Rum” made with coconut butter.
Back for its second year, “Frosty’s Christmas Bar” (809 West Evergreen Avenue) is three bars and four levels of spirited debauchery—til 4 a.m. nightly through December 30. Look for super-elaborate decorations, life-sized toy soldiers, performances by sexy Santas and much more. Themed cocktails, Christmas cookies and “Aunt Bethany’s Christmas Vacation Jell-O Mold” (spiked, obv) await. Buy tix online, from $20 (includes two cocktails).
Booze with a “Buddy”
Stretch Bar & Grill spends the season as “Elf’d Up,” an homage to the movie Elf, with a sugar- and energy-filled pop-up Buddy would adore. Through the end of January, the bar sports an upside-down 10-foot Christmas tree, thousands of twinkling lights, a snow machine and movie memorabilia galore. Stop by for themed cocktails (i.e. an electric blue “Mr. Narwhal” vodka cocktail garnished with a gumdrop “tusk”) and food (a behemoth of a sundae with three scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream and allll the toppings), ornament decorating nights, complimentary cookies served by Santa nightly at 10 p.m. and DJs spinning holiday mash-ups.