The 7 Most Festive Holiday Bars in DC
Including two spots that are engaged in a Griswold-esque Christmas decor standoff
Let’s all take a moment to collectively admit to getting stoked for an annual visit to a tasteful, festive holiday bar. Sure, temps are dropping faster than the ball on New Year’s Eve, but that doesn’t matter as much when you’re sipping on a tiki Santa or knocking back eggnog shots with friends.
“There’s something special about working on 7th Street,” says Derek Brown, the owner of local favorite holiday pop up bar, Miracle on 7th Street as well as the award-winning Columbia Room. “Watching all the people walk in … their faces kind of light up and the excitement around it is really tangible. I think it’s just a wonderful time of year.”
Get ready for string lights galore, Mariah Carey awakening from her year-long slumber to be played on repeat and a fuzzy feeling brought on by more than just the booze. Bonus points if you’ve got your ugly Christmas sweater on. Here are our picks for top notch holiday drinking.
The classic. Drink Company’s famed pop-up bar is now a year-round fixture in D.C., pulling out all the stops for rotating themes that celebrate anything from cherry blossom season to Game of Thrones. Their first ever and arguably best iteration, though, is Miracle on 7th Street, a holiday-themed wonderland that’s featured kooky installations such as a dinosaur nativity scene and a Victorian sleigh parked in front of a Beyoncé mural.
This year they’re paying homage to the Washington Nationals’ historic World Series win earlier this fall with candy cane baseball swirls, baby sharks, and giant bats and balls. Last year’s popular Jewish-themed room is back too, a tongue-in-cheek reference to spending Christmas day at the movies and eating Chinese food.
Asked about his favorite spots in town to celebrate the holidays, owner Derek Brown says, “Well I’ll tell you about the one place that’s doing it all wrong — Ivy and Coney!” Gotta love a good old-fashioned rivalry.
Ivy and Coney
Last year Ivy and Coney announced their holiday pop-up bar theme would “celebrate Hanukkah as the red panda of winter holidays” mere days after Miracle on 7th Street revealed their bar’s panda theme. Needless to say the game was officially on. This year, the Chicago-meets-Detroit baseball bar is celebrating their 3rd annual Chai-vy and Cohen-y Hanukkah Bar.
“From December 2nd through New Years’ Eve of the year 5780, the Manischewitz shall flow, the dreidels shall spin and fun will be had by all. While some may prefer their holiday festivities as ‘Christmas-with-a-baseball-twist,’ we’re pitching ours as ‘Baseball-with-a-Hanukkah-fastball,’” they trolled in a statement. Stop into Ivy Coney all month long for “Bar” Mitzvah specials like latkes, sufgani shots and “eight-night fiery cider” (it’s just Fireball).
The Chalet at Hook Hall
Itching to get to the slopes this winter? Check out the next best thing: Hook Hall’s Swiss Alps-themed holiday bar, dubbed The Chalet. They’ve taken their 5,000-square-foot outdoor beer garden and cozy-fied it with a tent, heaters and alcoves they’re calling “Chalet Nooks.” Stop in for a couple of drinks or invite a few of your friends and rent out a private chalet, seating up to 12 and decked out with sectional lounges, sherpa blankets, fire pits and USB ports. Sip on hot traditional Alpine beverages and mulled wine while dipping bread into savory fondue and noshing on Bavarian pretzels.
Taking you from snowy Switzerland all the way to the sandy beaches of Hawaii is one of DC’s favorite tiki bars, Archipelago. They’re throwing a month-long tropical Christmas bash complete with special cocktails and holiday decor called Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack. Holiday beverages from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry include a Kris Kringle Colada, the Christmas Eve Destruction and the shareable, rum-filled “Jingle Bowl,” resembling a hot tub with Santa and reindeer soaking inside. Ten percent of festive mug sales will go to Action Against Hunger.
Pub & the People
Voted DC’s best neighborhood bar, Pub & the People is the perfect low-key spot to get your holiday cheer on. They’ve got their heated, dog-friendly winter tent up over the front patio, stocked full with festive decorations, hot holiday cocktails in cute wintry mugs, snuggle blankets and music. It can also be rented for private events and will be up until mid-March.
Lucy’s and Little Coco’s
It may be a small space, but Lucy’s Christmas Wonderland packs a big holiday punch. Stop by the Little Coco’s for their Hot Coco holiday pop-up, which they describe as part Alpine Ski Chalet, part winter lodge, and all parts hygge. Head upstairs afterwards to Lucy’s, which is fully decked out for the holiday season. They’ve got cheeky decor such as a cut-out of Will Ferrell as Elf and Santa figurines.
Want an option with a bit more space? Look no further than Wundergarten’s Winterfest, the spacious beer garden’s three-week holiday celebration. Get your fill of sloshing steins, twinkly lights and warm food at the Pop-Up Cafe and then gather ‘round the fire pits with blankets for s’mores and hot toddies. They also have Christmas trees for sale and pop-up shop events selling wares from local makers as well as live music. Check out their full lineup of events here.