Dec 1, 2023 - Things to Do

12 Christmas pop-up bars coming to Charlotte in 2023

Miracle pop-up bar at Backstage Lounge. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

It’s the most wine-derful time of the year. These holiday-themed pop-ups are sure to raise your holiday spirits. Just don’t get too blitzened

Editor’s note: This story was last updated in November 2023 to reflect current holiday happenings. 

Tinseltown at Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday is a cocktail bar on the first floor of Optimist Hall. This year, it’s transforming the inside of the space into “Tinseltown.”

What to expect: Holiday-themed cocktails, warm drinks, and a transformed space.

  • The seasonal drink menu includes a sugar cookie martini, an apple pie old fashioned and house-made coquito. 
  • Of note: This pop-up will be first come, first serve. No reservations are available, but there will be a waitlist.

Details: The Christmas bar will operate from Nov. 29-Dec. 31

  • Monday-Thursday 5pm-10pm, Friday 4pm-midnight, Saturday noon-midnight, Sunday noon-10pm 
  • The address is: 1115 N Brevard St.
  • Pro tip: Arrive early, put your name on the list, then head up to Spindle Bar Airstream or Spindle Bar inside for a hot or holiday cocktail while you wait for your table.
Billy sunday holiday cocktails
Billy Sunday’s holiday drinks from 2022. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

House of Krampus at Humbug

Humbug will once again transform their entire bar into a holiday pop-up based on the folklore of Krampus. 

What to expect: A festive menu developed by owners Andrew Schools and Larry Suggs, holiday snacks and holiday decor.

  • Of note: This is a reservation-only experience. Tickets are available in advance and time slots are limited to two hours.

Details: Dec. 1-23.

  • Party size is limited to four people per reservation.
  • Tickets are $10.
  • The address is 2501 The Plaza.
Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Sippin’ Santa at The Royal Tot

The Royal Tot might be under new ownership but its popular Sippin’ Santa tiki pop-up returns for a third year.

What to expect: Tropical holiday-themed cocktails and weekly events like stocking decorating, music bingo and pictures from Santa.

  • Of note: The bar is currently decorated with its holiday decor and holiday-themed events start as early as Nov. 15 with a stocking decorating event, but the pop-up will officially start on Nov. 21.

Details: Nov. 21-Dec. 31.

  • Open 4pm-midnight Mondays-Tuesdays, 4-1am Wednesday-Thursday, 4pm-2am Fridays, 11am-2am Saturdays, 11am-11pm Sundays.
  • The address is 933 Louise Ave.
the royal tot
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Miracle at Backstage Lounge

Backstage Lounge is a speakeasy behind SouthBound, which just wrapped up its spooky speakeasy.

What to expect: Holiday décor and holiday-themed drinks. 

  • Of note: The bar will be first come, first serve. No reservations are needed.

Details: Miracle will be open Nov. 22-Dec. 30. It’ll be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  

Miracle pop-up bar at Backstage Lounge. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

“Ugly Holiday Sweater” Speakeasy at Supperland

Supperland’s Speakeasy (located beneath the restaurant) is a hidden gem. Themed cocktail/dinner pairings are hosted there regularly and the next one’s theme is “Toast to the Holidays.”

What to expect: Four cocktails, each paired with a dish created by Supperland’s culinary team.

  • Attendees are encouraged to dress in their best ugly holiday sweater and post on Instagram with #supperland to be entered to win a gift card.

Details: Nov. 26- Jan. 6, 2024

Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Winter in the Queen’s Garden at the JW Marriott

The Aura Rooftop will have real snow, holiday decorations and menu items like the boozy hot chocolate large enough to share with four people. 

What to expect: Snow machines will transform this popular rooftop bar into a winter wonderland. Its regular menu will be available, as will new seasonal options like:

  • The Queen’s Hot Chocolate: Angel’s Envy, St. Germaine, cocoa liquor and hot chocolate. 
  • Spiced with Purpose: Angel’s Envy, pumpkin spiced maple syrup, black walnut bitter.
  • Illusion of the Night: Bacardi spiced sum, coffee liqueur, brown sugar vanilla cream, milk. 
  • Poblano Queso: Warm queso with chopped poblano peppers.

Details: Nov. 18- end of February

Aura Rooftop Uptown
Axios archives

A Very Tiki Christmas at El Thrifty Social 

The Mexican-inspired cantina inside Optimist hall has turned into a tropical-inspired pop-up through the end of December.

What to expect: A festive drink menu, with a coastal twist like the “Santas Surfside Sipper” and the “Frosty’s Flamingo Fizz.”

  • Plus, a food menu of Mexican fare like chips and guac, tacos, enchiladas and carnitas.

Details: El Thrifty is located inside Optimist Hall at 1115 N Brevard St.

  • It’s open Monday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-midnight and Sunday 11am-10pm.

Pro tip: Make a bar-hopping night out of Optimist Hall with Billy Sunday, El Thrifty and Spindle Bar (which also serves festive cocktails).

Photo: Courtesy of El Thrifty.

A Vintage Holiday by The Green Room

This cozy cocktail bar, tucked away inside South End’s Lincoln Street Kitchen and Cocktails, promises a time capsule of festive nostalgia with its Vintage Holiday pop-up.

What to expect: An intimate setup reminiscent of holidays past. The Green Room calls itself a pocket bar — making it a solid option for a date night or small group outing.

  • Featured cocktails include “Old Fezzwig,” made with scotch, cranberry, ginger and miso and “Sly Like a Fox,”  Templeton 6 year Rye & Zacapa Rum, gingerbread, allspice dram, whole egg (can also be made as a mocktail.

Details: Vintage Holiday will run every Friday and Saturday in December from 6pm to midnight. You can find The Green Room inside Lincoln Street at 1320 S Church St.

  • Book a reservation here. It’s $20 per person and includes a welcome cocktail and trio of light bites for each guest.

Go deeper: Hidden bar from top Charlotte mixologist to open in South End

Sly Like a Fox. Photo: Courtesy of The Green Room

VINYL’s Winter Wonderland

The popular South End hangout spot is turning up its holiday spirit with festive decor, twinkling lights and seasonal cocktails through all of December.

What to expect: New, holiday-inspired drinks for the month of December menu, including a cinnamon espresso martini.

Pro tip: Don’t sleep on the food menu. Pair your cocktail with Vinyl’s scotch deviled eggs, charcuterie or cheese board.

Details: Vinyl is located at 1440 S Tryon St.

  • It’s open Tuesday-Friday 3pm-2am and Saturday-Sunday 12pm-2am.

Go deeper: Vinyl is taking over the former VANA space in South End

Photo: Courtesy of NiceDay Creative

Winter Wonderland at The Garrison

Historic Pineville’s first cocktail bar will transform into a winter wonderland both upstairs and downstairs.

What to expect: The restaurant will operate as normal — reservations can be made online — and will be decorated with holiday decor and will serve new holiday cocktails served in festive glassware.

Details: Nov. 21-Dec. 30

The glassware will be available for sale. Photo: Stephanie Macpherson

Winter WonderBar at Papa Doc’s

Okay, technically Papa Doc’s is in Lake Wylie, not Charlotte, but Axios Charlotte newsletter readers say it’s worth the drive.

What to expect: Festive decorations and cocktails like “Cousin Eddy’s frozen spiked eggnog,” a “Mistletoe Mule” and “Elf’d Up Shots.”

Details: The Winter Wonderbar will be open every Thursday-Saturday from 6pm-close starting Nov. 24 through the end of December.

Papa Doc's
Photo courtesy of Heather Roode

Sippin’ Santa at Thigs Cocktail Bar in Lake Norman

Just a 30-minute drive from Uptown, Thigs will be transformed into a winter wonderland.

What to expect: This bar has Christmas-themed cocktails, festive decorations and activities planned throughout the holiday season.

Details: Nov. 20-Dec. 31

Photo courtesy of Aaron Bunn  (Point of View Recordings)
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