It’s holiday bar season in Toronto: The most wonderful time of the year

Cue Bing Crosby because it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—at Toronto’s best bars, that is. It’s officially December which means even the scrooge-iest of Grinches can’t say it’s too early to get the tinsel out, put on the ugliest Christmas sweaters, deck the halls with boughs of holly, and check out these pop-up bars with festive drinks, twinkling lights, Michael Buble on repeat and a whole lot of Christmas spirit(s).

Here are all the holiday-themed pop-ups happening in Toronto this holiday season.

Miracle at Third Place Toronto

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The team at Civil Liberties has turned the space at Third Place Toronto into a candy cane lane. Red and white stripes, holiday lights, and candlelight set the atmosphere at Miracle Toronto. Accepting walk-ins only, the bar offers one-of-a-kind cocktails, including a “Christmapolitan” and “Holiday Spiced Chai”—as well as a few concoctions with much naughtier names. Catering to St. Nicholas himself, the bar serves up cookies to snack on, with vegan and gluten-free options available.  

Making this pop-up unique, Miracle Toronto is hosting Christmas with the Queen drag shows on Saturday afternoon throughout December. Guests can also bring a piece of Miracle home with them by purchasing some of the festive drinkware, including mugs of Santa—and his pants—nice or naughty shot glasses, and a SanTaRex Mug. The celebrations at Miracle do a lot more for the community than just spread good holiday cheer, as $1 from each cocktail sold will go to Nellie’s Shelter, an organization providing shelter, education and protection for women and children in the city. Last year, Miracle Toronto raised $40 thousand for the shelter.

Miracle Toronto has a $5 entry and is open from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday to Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays, and 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sundays.

The Thirsty Elf at the Fairmont Royal York

Quench your thirsty for holiday flavours at the Fairmont Royal York’s annual holiday-themed pop-up, the Thirsty Elf. Visit the MM floor of the hotel for an exclusive evening featuring luxurious cocktails in an environment made to encourage you to relax with lush cushions in a sea of sparkling ornaments. From sweet cocktails, like a gingerbread gin and “Christmoose S’more” to a nutty warming whiskey, the menu has a range of festive drinks to suit your holiday needs.

The pop-up is open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with one-hour seating time, available for walk in only, until December 22.

Giggly Christmas at Project Gigglewater

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You’ll be giggling in delight when you step into Project Gigglewater, as the bar has been taken over by a Christmas elf. With light-up candles, paper snowflakes and hanging wrapped gifts decorating the unassuming bar, Giggly Christmas has introduced an all-new menu including Christmas Pigs in a Blanket, festive popcorn chicken, and gingerbread toffee cake. A minty chocolate cocktail making up the Beets by Mariah, a citrusy pear vodka highlighting the “Goose in a Pear Tree,” and a cinnamon gin and red vermouth combining for the “Mister and Mistletoe” are only a few of the many festive specialties that have been added to the menu.

Giggly Christmas is open at 1369 Dundas St. W.,  from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily until December 31. 

Java Jingle at Little Sister Dutch Indo Food Bar

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Both of Toronto’s Little Sister Dutch Indo Food Bar locations have been turned into a magical place of festivities with the return of the Java Jingle. Welcomed by an inflatable Elf—the Will Ferrell version, of course—Java Jingle offer 17 holiday-themed cocktails as well as two holiday-themed shots. With the names Feliz Navi-Zaddy and Resting Grinch Face, you know these shots are dangerous. With jolly Christmas tunes playing all night long, both locations promise holiday festivities to keep the party going all night and all winter long. 

Little Sister Food Bar is running Java Jingle at 102 Portland Street and 2031 Yonge St., until January 7.

Nordic by BarChef

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Step into winter magic at Nordic, the new cozy bar by BarChef in The Well complex. Enjoy a Cedar Eggnog or Winter Negroni in a snug yurt or by the firepit. Owners Frankie Solarik and Gianluca Passuello bring holiday cheer with handcrafted cocktails and signature flair. Immerse yourself in scents of cedar, balsam fir, and eucalyptus while you take in a festive musical performance.

This experience runs until Dec. 31 at The Well on Wellington.

Mistletoes and Margheritas at Papi Chulo’s

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Have you ever spent your Christmas in Mexico? Now’s your chance with the third annual return of the Mistletoes and Margheritas pop-up taking over Papi Chulo’s at 121 Ossington Avenue. The bar, usually decorated with low hanging flags and dangling bulbs has been taken over by glowing candy canes and colourful lights, while the iconic palm trees have been turned in to bright and shining Christmas trees. Papi Chulo is still be serving up their Mexican staples, including tacos, the beloved guac, tacos and Mexican corn, while pairing it with deliciously sweet holiday drinks decorated in marshmallows, candy canes and little festive caricatures.

Mistletoes and Margheritas is now open for walk-in only until December 31.    

Folly Jolly Christmas at Folly Brewpub

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Have a folly jolly Christmas by trying the special holiday menu at Folly Brewpub this holiday season. Spiced mulled wine, fireball apple cider, Buttered Rum Old Fashioned, Christmas beer are some of the highlights you’ll be adding to your holiday wish list this year. 

The Folly Brewpub is open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 11am to 2am Saturday and Sunday.

Speakeasy Yurt at Stackt Market

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You likely know that every year Stackt Market gets transformed into a winter wonderland with the return of Holiday Hills. From a 120-foot tunnel of lights, to retail pop-ups, live music, and s’mores by the outdoor firepit, there’s no shortage of fun to have at this annual extravaganza. But did you know there is also a whiskey bar speakeasy tucked away in a cozy yurt? Lit by candlelight, the space is intimate and includes four crafted cocktails that will make you easily forget you’re not even in a real building.

Holiday Hills is running from Stackt Market until December 31. 

Tinseltown: The Christmas Speakeasy

This Tinseltown visits cities across North America, and Toronto is fortunate to host our very own. You may not know it from the outside but the Novotel Toronto Centre is the home of this speakeasy that’s covered in… well, tinsel. It might be tiny but there are big things happening—even beyond the massive Christmas nutcracker, photo op thrown, and large sleigh. This pop-up does more than create the look of Tinseltown, but rather pulls you right into all the fun with games, Christmas carol singalongs, and contests. But that’s only if you don’t let the Grinch get you down—that’s right, the enemy of Christmas cheer himself is promising to leave Whoville to spend the holidays in Tinseltown this year.Ticket purchase comes with a frosty welcome drink that’s rimmed in candy cane and festive spirit, while other items on the Christmas cocktail menu include a mulled wine, and flavoured hot chocolate with an alcoholic whipped cream.

Just as festive as the drinks in this standing cocktail bar are the items on the snack menu. With macaroons and a chocolate sundae on the menu, it might be tempting to switch to dessert, but you don’t want to miss the candy cane poutine or the roasted Brussel sprouts with cranberry paint and spiced pumpkin seeds (“Grinch Droppings” as they’re known in Tinseltown). 

Tinsel runs at 5:30, 7:30, and 9:30 p.m. every night until December 24. Reservations cost $15 and covers one welcome drink.

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