‘Tis the season for holiday pop-ups and D.C.’s bars, and restaurants are decking the halls with mood-lifting tinsel, twinkling lights, and kitschy knickknacks. They are pouring seasonal, themed cocktails and cooking up sumptuous snacks to celebrate the season.
This running guide features holiday pop-up bars and restaurants around town.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.
It’s the closest thing to an alpine lodge in D.C. with a 2,500-square foot heated tent on the roof, lounge furniture and couches, string lights, antler chandeliers, faux fur rugs, and vintage fireplaces and trinkets. Beyond that, there are 20 fire pits scattered on the lawn, hot cocktails, and winter snacks like hot pretzels and German hot dogs. Wednesday is game night. Live music Thursdays. DJs during the day on Saturday and Sundays. 1509 5th Street NE. Walk-ins only. No reservations required. Opens December December 17.
The Fairmont’s adorable Christmas village took 80 pounds of chocolate, 32 pounds of gingerbread, and 60 hours of work to complete. It’s in the lobby, so grab a hot chocolate or cocktail to sip while checking it out. 2401 M Street, NW. On display throughout December.
Shake things up in Cantina Bambina’s giant, Christmas-themed snow globe. There’s a full holiday cocktail list with warm drinks like peanut butter whiskey-spike hot chocolate, mulled wine, and more; and twists on classics like cold-brew laced eggnog. There are also holiday mugs and hats for purchase. 960 Wharf Street SW. Through December 31.
Air grievances to a room full of ears by ringing a bell, or record them on the bathroom wall. Engage in one-handed wrestling contests, take in plenty of Seinfeld-themed decor, or hang from a pull-up bar for two minutes to win a free shot. The Passenger’s Festivus pop-up bar invites visitors to blow off some steam. Special cocktails ($13 each) pay homage to the Seinfeld episode that introduced Festivus. 1539 Seventh Street NW. Available throughout December.
Wrap up holiday shopping at National Landing while enjoying bites from live Bun’D Up, Eat Mana, Peruvian Brothers, and Rocklands BBQ. The vendor list keeps growing, but it was at 31 by the last count. Live music is a plus. 2121 Crystal Drive pergola. Friday, December 17 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, December 18 from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Current vendor and music details are available here.
With an onsite Christmas tree lot, the sounds of buzzing saws and the scent of fresh pine make for a pretty authentic holiday experience at NoMa. Daily events include ugly sweater contests, Santa pics with pets, holiday movies, and holiday trivia. Beers, cider, hot cocoa, hot toddy, mulled wine, and more. 1101 First Street NE. Daily events from December 3 through December 23. See the full line-up here.
Though Hanukkah came early this year, Ivy and Coney’s popular Hanukkah-themed pop-up bar, Chai-vy and Cohen-y, will keep the theme going throughout December. Highlights include shots that taste like sufganiyot; latkes; and the “shotnorah,” a giant menorah that allows eight people to take shots at one time; and blue and white lights laced throughout the space. 1537 7th Street NW. Must show proof of vaccination to enter.
Plastic Christmas decorations; warm, unfussy winter cocktails; and a plastic-wrapped outdoor space with overhead heaters make for a festive vibe at this outdoor space barbecue haven. 1801 14th Street NW.
Each of the twelve days brings a festive cocktail only available on that day. Sip on flights of eggnog; clarified cookie milk spiked with brandy and vanilla; a “Christmas morning” cocktail with rum, gingerbread, coconut, and hot cocoa foam; or other inviting cocktails depending on the day. 7134 Main Street, Clifton, Virginia. Available December 8 through December 23.
All Set Restaurant and Bar has partnered with Banville Wine Merchants for food and wine pairings. The weekly “Roman Holiday” includes three 2-ounce glasses of Italian wine and small bites like potato latkes, honey baked ham, and hanger steak Florentine. Tickets, available weekly through Eventbrite, cost $22. 8630 Fenton Street, Plaza 5, Silver Spring. Available each Wednesday in December at 5 p.m.
The Adams Morgan bar puts tiki twists on Christmas cocktails, all dressed up in festive glassware available for purchase. A new “egg-n-grog” cocktail joins the established list of holiday favorites with rum, brandy, sherry, egg, milk, and spices. 2411 18th Street NW. Holiday cocktails available through January 5.
Join in high tea with Santa, which notably includes endless champagne for adults, before touring (and taking a bite) of the a life-size gingerbread house and meeting old St. Nick himself. Seating times available Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Menu and booking here. Note: You can tour the gingerbread house without a tea reservation as well.
Leave chilly D.C. for balmy Havana. Casta’s Rum Bar spices up the night with live music and specialty cocktails. Attire: Festive costumes. 1121 New Hampshire Avenue NW. December 18 from 10 p.m. to close.
Maxwell Park has decked out its Navy Yard location with floor-to-ceiling decorations including wrapping paper, ribbons, ornaments, wreaths, neon signs, faux fireplaces, and mistletoe. The holiday drink menu includes eggnog and peppermint shooters. Tables are first come, first serve except for the patio greenhouses which have been transformed into private candy cane huts. 1346 4th Street SE.
Japanese and Spanish-inspired, Michelin-starred restaurant Cranes holds a special holiday sake tasting on December 14. Start with a sparkling Junmai followed by four food and rare sake pairings by sommelier Eric Stewart-Woodruff in a collaboration with DC Sake Co; and guests will have the opportunity to purchase their favorites at the end of the evening to enjoy at home. 724 9th Street NW. Event is December 14. Tickets are $65 for one person or $120 per couple; and can be purchased here through Resy.
Tabla is celebrating Georgian food while giving back to the community. For 12 days, diners receive $1 off a different Georgian dish each time they dine in. After the 12 days, the restaurant will donate a portion of the proceeds to N Street Village and the American Friends of Georgia. 3227 Georgia Avenue NW. December 8 through December 23.
Clarendon’s Spanish darling becomes a holiday white wonderland with ornaments, twinkling lights, and branches hanging from the ceiling. Holiday cocktails include an “eggnog-tini” and a “cinnamull.” 3100 Clarendon Boulevard.
This cheerful Cuban spot spruces up its 14th Street rooftop with holiday decorations and special Bacardi cocktails, like the “hot buttered yum,” a hot cocktail made with rum, PX sherry, and spiced butter. Winter cocktails run $14. Open Wednesday through Sunday from December 1 through January 2.
The bar on the top level of chef-owner Darren Norris’s multi-part Japanese complex gets decked out in the kitschy, over-the-top decorations the Miracle pop-ups are known for. Expect themed cocktails like the snowball old-fashioned and jingle balls nog, and a limited bar menu. Only 15 seats available inside the Miracle pop-up area. Other seating is available, but it is not decorated. All reservations are in 90-minute time slots. 2321 18th Street NW. Open November 26 through December 31.
This tiki-themed, Santa on a surfboard pop-up includes festive, tropical-themed drinks like White Russian Christmas and Kris Kringle Kolada in a winter wonderland. For the cutest drinkware, order the Mistle-to-Toe for two, served in a little bathtub with a little porcelain Santa relaxing and cocktailing inside it. The glassware is available to purchase. Reservations recommended. 1201 U Street NW. Open November 26 through December 30
The Watergate Hotel’s scandal igloos transport diners back to the Watergate scandal era with vintage items like scandal-related books, a working Victrola record player, and clipped Nixon-era news headlines all while grooving to the sweet hits of the day. Cozy up in a plush blanket with cocktails from the 1970s including the Singapore sling, The Godfather, and the Blue Hawaiian. Food follows suit with mint jelly, fondue, chocolate cigars and more. Prices start at $200 per igloo. For reservations, call (844) 617-1972. The Watergate Hotel, 2650 Virginia Avenue NW
This full-service craft beer destination raises the bar with tons and tons of holiday decorations and plenty of special drinks this season. 716 Monroe Street, NE
Crafts and art, s’more-making kits; warm, boozy beverages; and ornament-decorating land at Zinnia in Silver Spring during its first annual holiday pop-up and craft market. The new restaurant took over the spot that was previously Mrs. K’s. 9201 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Open from around 2 p.m. to around 6 p.m. every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until Christmas.
The massive lights display returns to Nats Parks with a story about an elf who has misplaced some presents. Hunt for the presents while enjoying millions of glittery lights, ice skating along the trail, or grabbing bites at the Village from Ben’s Chili Bowl, La Casita Pupuseria, Arepa Zone, and more. Tickets here. Open November 26 through January 2
Penn Quarter’s all-day cafe goes all out with holiday decor every year with its “kiss me under the mistletoe” neon sign, a Christmas tree, lights, and more. There’s a pretty impressive DIY s’mores menu and plenty of booze-optional hot chocolate options. Plus, Urban Roast debuted a new holiday cocktail menu with s’mores Manhattans, hot toddies, cider, and other festive cocktails. Reservations here. 916 G Street Northwest, Suite C-2
With the Downtown Holiday Market a peppermint’s throw from the Kimpton Hotel Monaco D.C., it just makes sense to stop by the hotel’s courtyard for string lights, outdoor fire pits, cozy blankets, and the Dirty Habit holiday pop-up bar. Cocktails from the bar can be taken to the holiday market. Open November 19 through December 23
This fan-favorite fantasy land at the Clarendon Ballroom returns this year with multiple levels of winter wonderland treats like festive decorations, Christmas lights, specialty cocktails, holiday surprises, and DJs. Drinks include Christmas cookie flavored “ornament shooters,” jingle juice punch, and others. Though entry is free, there are a couple ticketed events like the Bad Santa Christmas Party on December 18 and a New Year’s Eve bash on December 31. More info here. 3185 Wilson Boulevard. Open Friday and Saturday nights starting November 26.
This sprawling, 22,000-square foot outdoor venue gets transformed into a Christmas garden with twinkling lights, Christmas trees, heaters to keep warm, and holiday cocktails in addition to The Lot’s regular line-up of food trucks, tiki bar, games, and more. 3217 10th Street N, Arlington
If the holidays are starting to feel stressful, McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont Circle might feel like the right place with its holiday survival guide cocktail menu. With cute names like “Always Spike The Eggnog” and “The In-Laws Can Only Stay Three Nights,” everyone can find a cocktail to fit whatever’s got them down. 2031 Florida Avenue, NW
Tiki TNT isn’t holding back with its colorful Christmas lights, an upside-down Christmas tree, and giant Santas sporting beachwear perched at the bars and entryway. Plenty of holiday cocktails join the mix. If take-out is more your speed, pick up chef Steve Kim’s Christmas dinner takeout for two ($65; order on Resy; 24-hours advance notice required). The menu includes Korean double-fried orange chicken; confit duck fried rice, vegetarian spring rolls, adobo roasted broccoli, and blistered green beans with garlic and sesame. 1130 Maine Avenue SW. Available beginning Thursday, December 2.
Holiday drinks abound at Tap99 amidst an abundance of wrapped presents hanging from the ceiling, twinkling catenary lights strung with garland, and outdoor seating with a 14-foot holiday tree and heaters. Plus, the Grinch visits on December 11 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. 1250 Half Street SE