Holiday pop-up bars have become one of our favorite grown-up traditions of the season. Craft cocktail dens go all-out, decorating every inch of their spaces and rolling out special Christmas bar menus. It’s super kitschy and silly, and a perfect way to make warm L.A. feel a bit more like a winter escape. One of our favorite takes on the trend is Blitzen’s, which returns to Here & Now in the Arts District on December 3.
“When we started in 2016, no one was really doing a holiday pop-up,” says Here & Now owner Sarah Meade. “A few places had holiday drinks on their menu, but nothing as over the top as we do. I was so nervous the first year. There was a lot of money spent in advance for things like decorations, menu, Santa, even glassware. I was worried it was going to be a complete failure and waste of money. Glad to say that I was totally wrong. Each year continues to get bigger and better.”
For 2019, the Here & Now team has developed a new menu of 15 festive cocktails. Options include Yule Shoot Your Rye Out (rye, gingerbread syrup, bitters) and Hallelujah! Holy Shit! Where’s the Tylenol? (mezcal, rosemary-infused Laird’s Apple Brandy, Montenegro, Ancho Reyes, and maple), and Mele Kalikimaka (Jamaican Rum, Plantation Pineapple, Licor 43, spiced cranberry sauce, coconut, and lime).
If you’re visiting with a group, the large-format Get Blitzen’d punch (tequila, fino sherry, sweet vermouth, lemon, falernum, prosecco) is a safe bet. Classicists will gravitate to takes on traditional mulled wine, hot chocolate, and egg nog, the latter two of which are available with or without alcohol.
“One of my favorite drinks on this menu is Put on Your Yarmulke,” Meade says of a ruby-colored concoction of Money Shoulder whiskey, Manischewitz, grapefruit cordial, allspice dram, honey, aquafaba, lime, and hibiscus. “It’s a whiskey sour with some serious holiday spirit.”
Here & Now consulting chef Taylor Persh rolls out a seasonal food menu to accompany all those cocktails. Offerings include Christmas poutine (fries with cheese curds, cranberry, gravy, and pulled turkey), baked brie, everything bagel-spiced pigs in a blanket, matzoh ball soup, latkas, and the Leftover Sandwich (brioche bun stuffed with turkey breast, stuffing, cranberry, and potato puree).
Blitzen’s isn’t only about having festive fun, however. The pop-up also gives back, acting as a fundraiser for PATH: People Assisting the Homeless.
While Here & Now was early on the holiday cocktail bar game–they’ve now been doing something seasonal for three winters in a row–other bars in the area are also doing their own Christmas bar projects this year. Four area bars have signed on to participate in Miracle, a pop-up bar program with locations around the world. Melrose Umbrella Company on Melrose and the Ordinarie in Long Beach are both on board, as are two spots in Anaheim.
Blitzen’s at Here & Now opens December 3 at 300 Santa Fe St., Arts District.