Miracle's Snowball Old Fashioned (photo by Melissa Hom)
Food + Drink

5 Holiday-Themed Pop-Up Cocktail Bars You’ll Love

Creative cocktails and Christmas go together like Clark Griswold and over-the-top holiday decorating. These spirited experiences are a gift to festive Ohioans.

The Citizen’s Trust’s Miracle Pop-Up
If a high-society, Hollywood-esque Christmas celebration sounds like something you’d want to unwrap, the Miracle pop-up at The Citizen’s Trust in downtown Columbus might be the gift that keeps on giving. The swanky setting in a former ornate bank lobby gets a little kitschy for the holidays with festive mugs you can purchase to continue the fun back home.
“We put a giant inflatable igloo in there that you can sit inside of and have a cocktail,” says bar manager Chris Marek. “There’s all sorts of inflatables.” While the drink recipes usually change every year, expect cocktails such as a holiday-spiced old fashioned, a boozy eggnog and a Christmas-themed cosmopolitan. 

A cocktail at Toledo-Spirits’ Sleigh Bellwether (photo courtesy of Toledo Spirits)
Toledo Spirits’ Sleigh Bellwether
Find more festive drinks at Sleigh Bellwether, a holiday pop-up in Toledo Spirits’ dedicated cocktail lounge Bellwether. In the spirit of the season, the lounge is adorned with over-the-top Christmas decor. But the real reason to head here is for the holiday-themed cocktails made using Toledo Spirits’ own liquors and house-made syrups and infusions. The menu changes every year, but count on there being a spiked eggnog, a gingerbread old fashioned and a holiday-themed Moscow mule. “The vibe is just killer because it’s really about family. It’s about sharing the season,” says co-founder Dustin Wade, who notes the spot also hosts a Halloween-themed pop-up called Hellwether. 

Drinks at Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Secret Cellar Christmas Bar pop-up (photo courtesy of Great Lakes Brewing Co.)
Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Secret Cellar Christmas Bar
Great Lakes Brewing Co., the famed brewers of Christmas Ale, decided to spread the festive love, opening the Secret Cellar Christmas Bar pop-up in the Cleveland brewery’s cozy cellar bar. While they know beer, they also show they know cocktails too. The menu fluctuates year to year, but past concoctions have included an apple pie old fashioned made with cinnamon-infused bourbon and a bourbon-infused eggnog. Beer lovers can order Ralphie’s Revenge, Christmas Ale served with a Fireball whiskey chaser, which is named after the main character from A Christmas Story. Expect lavish vintage and Cleveland-themed decor. “Every year we try to go bigger and brighter than the last, and that’s part of the fun!” says Mychael Montgomery, general manager of brewpub operations.

Tiki Underground’s Mele Kalikimaka Holiday Pop-Up
Cuyahoga Falls
Tiki and Christmas go together like Santa and reindeer. “A lot of the really critical classic ingredients in tropical cocktails go really well flavor pairing-wise with a lot of traditional holiday flavors,” says Tim Harnett, a mixologist at Tiki Underground, which hosts an annual Mele Kalikimaka Holiday Pop-Up. While the Cuyahoga Falls bar’s menu varies from year to year, depending on the spirits the bar has to work with, the drinks usually feature warm, aromatic spirits such as dark rum and whiskeys. Last year’s drinks included the Nativity Strength, made with rum, lime, house-made cinnamon syrup, cranberry and orange, or the Reinkiller, featuring rum, eggnog, pineapple and orange. “The main draw is the one-month window people have to come in and experience these short-lived cocktails,” says Harnett.

Huli Huli Tiki’s Lounge Huli Huli’s Shrieki Tiki
Sure, tiki is tropical and citrusy — but it’s also mysterious according to Rick Ryan, general manager at Huli Huli Tiki Lounge in Powell. “There’s kind of a darkness and exotic mystery on the horizon,” he says. That’s what makes it such a natural fit for a Halloween pop-up, such as Huli Huli’s Shrieki Tiki. This fall, the bar gets dressed up around monster movie themes and features cocktails such as Guillermo’s Faustian Deal. In November, the bar turns into a Christmas pop-up, Huli Holiday, with decor to match many holiday moods from Christmas schtick to a wintry wonderland. While the cocktail menu often changes year to year, one constant is She Wrapped Up Her Damn Cat, made with spiced Evan Williams bourbon, ginger shrub, clove orange rosemary syrup, pomegranate and passionfruit. “People love the simplicity of it,” Ryan says of the drink inspired by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Proof Magazine is for Ohio spirit lovers. It is produced by Great Lakes Publishing three times a year. Dont miss an issue by subscribing to Ohio Magazine. View a digital version of the Proof Magazine Winter 2023 edition here