With four holiday pop-up bars Downtown this year, we felt inspired to create a different kind of walking tour — the kind that involves booze.
Make a new holiday tradition with this wintry bar crawl and admire the holiday decor along the way. We’ve sketched out a map of where to go to sip themed cocktails, admire the bars’ holiday decorations, listen to Christmas music on loop, and fill your Instagram feed with everything red and green. You can also check out stops on our DIY holiday lights walking tour.
Get into the holiday spirit(s).
The route and logistics
- We’ll walk you through each step, but you can visit the bars in any order.
- Load the interactive map here.
- These bars are *really* close together. If you take the whole Downtown tour, expect to walk about 2,000 steps.
- If you head to the bonus bars, there are plenty of bus options from Downtown to Millvale and the South Side. Or catch a Lyft/Uber.
- In the words of alcohol advertisements: Please drink responsibly. In the words of me: Please don’t be a jagoff.
A holiday hideout.Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline
What to expect: This narrow hideout below Harris Grill’s Downtown location is lit by the glow of vintage Christmas bulbs. Given its name, tinsel makes a major appearance. Wreaths made of jingle bells, stuffed Rudolphs, and garlands made of mittens cover the exposed brick walls. Hot beverages are served in Feliz Navidad mugs.
What to drink: The Bourbon-Pumpkin Eggnog is served in a tall glass with plenty of ice for a cool treat. Or warm up with a boozy hot cocoa.
Where: Harris Grill, 245 Fourth Ave. (Downtown)
When: Open 4 p.m. until about 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday through New Year’s Eve. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
If the North Pole had a nightclub.Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline
What to expect: If the North Pole had a night club, it would be Jingle Bar.
Christmas tunes blast through the speakers, red-and-green lasers sweep across the room, revelers pack the space, and it’s so dark my 30-year-old eyes had to use the flashlight on my phone to read the menu. Garlands, ornaments, and wrapped packages hang from the walls. Distinct from the other pop-up bars, greeting cards line the walls for a touch of hand-written holiday spirit.
Stop under the mistletoe at the front door to smooch your sweetie.
What to drink: Nearly a dozen holiday cocktails, such as the Prancer Pick Me Up, featuring gin and cold press coffee, and the Sleigh All Day, a combination of apple cider, prosecco, and cinnamon. Also, there’s sparkling rosé on tap.
Where: 268 Forbes Ave. (Downtown), steps from Market Square
When: Opens at 4:30 p.m. daily.
Note: Jingle Bar will close Jan. 2 and be transformed in a Valentine’s Day-themed pop-up called XO Bar.
"We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne."Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline
What to expect: The largest of Pittsburgh’s holiday pop-up bars, there’s plenty of space to grab a table in this dining room-turned-bar.
The decorating scheme does a great job of making the most of what it has — adorning wood-paneled walls with plush curtains, for example, for a chalet-inspired vibe. Twinkling lights, streamers, and wreaths fill the space, along with a spinning Christmas tree that would certainly be problematic to admire if you’ve had one too many drinks.
Also look for a New Year’s Eve photo backdrop and a nightly countdown to midnight.
On the menu: A selection of eight cocktails, including the frozen Tiki Tovah (featuring a whole bunch of rum) and the hot Noche de Navidad, a tequila-based drink.
Where: Original Oyster House, 20 Market Square (Downtown)
When: Opens at 4 p.m. daily through New Year’s Eve. Opens at noon at Christmas Eve. Closed on Christmas Day.
Miraculous decorations in Miracle.Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline
What to expect: Miracle is Pittsburgh’s original holiday pop-up bar, and they don’t want you to forget it. The bar’s Instagrams regularly sport the hashtag: #dontsupportknockoffs. But before you think that sentiment seems Scrooge-y, know that Miracle truly is the gold standard in this realm.
The bartenders are downright jolly, and their holiday joy is contagious. Bar-goers dance and sing along to a soundtrack that features the classics (“September,” “Shout,” and “Surfin’ USA”) alongside traditional Christmas tunes. The glassware is also notable — look for Santa-shaped mugs and festive rocks glasses, which you can buy (don’t be a Grinch and steal them).
What to drink: The bourbon-based Gingerbread Flip comes topped with gingersnap cookie crumbs. Drool.
Where: 705 Liberty Ave. (Downtown)
When: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily through New Year’s Eve
Every square inch at Bob's Garage is decorated.Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline
Bonus: Bob’s Garage
What to expect: At Bob’s Garage, it’s Christmas year-round. This holiday haunt is an oasis along a suburban street. You can’t miss it: It’s the one wrapped in enough strings of lights to make Clark Griswold jealous. Imagine if Overly’s Country Christmas and Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland had a baby. That baby would be Bob.
Every inch of space is covered with decorations: Model trains, Christmas bulbs, teddy bears wearing scarves, wreaths, ribbons, icicle lights, candy canes, garlands, and wrapped presents. Just as notable as the decor is the neighborhood vibe the spot embodies.
What to drink: It’s not about Christmas cocktails here. It’s about tall beers and mixed drinks.
Where: 1372 Freeport Road (O’Hara Township)
Santa Claus is coming to the Sah Side.Courtesy of Santa's Takeover
Bonus: Santa’s Takeover
What to expect: Gift-wrapped walls, silver snowflakes, reindeer decorations, and lots of lights. Stop for a photo in front of a festive Christmas tree. And if the South Side is more your speed, you’ll be right on Carson Street to continue your evening.
What to drink: The Toasted Caramel Apple features caramel vodka, apple cider, and a champagne float.
Where: Carson City Saloon, 1401 E. Carson St. (South Side)
When: 7 p.m. till close Thursday through Saturday, through the New Year.