‘Tis the season for gazing at festive decorations, jamming out to favorite carols, and, perhaps most importantly, knocking back a few appropriately themed cocktails. Luckily, this year, Austin is filled with more holiday hot spots than ever to get locals in the spirit.
From December 19-28 (excluding Christmas Day), this East Austin joint will be hosting “Nostalgic Noel.” The theme is toys and cartoons from the ’80s and ’90s, so head there to play NES games on the big screen; slam POGS; and, of course, drink cocktails inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Fraggle Rock, and more.
If an abundance of Christmas cheer is needed, then head to this classic Austin spot. Per tradition, Donn's has completely adorned the entire piano bar with every type of festive decoration available. Be sure to check the calendar to see the many special shows and events planned during the month.
DuMont’s Down Low
“A Very Merry Down Low Christmas” can be had throughout December at this comfy basement lounge on West Fourth Street. Go for the twinkling lights, but stay for the special cocktail menu that includes festive beverages like the bourbon-focused Maple Your Days Merry & Bright and the Red Ryder Cider.
Have yourself a Merry Tex-Mas at Geraldine’s from December 17-21. Its version of the South Pole will feature appearances by a Southern Santa, reservable igloo lounges out on the pool deck, a snazzy cocktail menu, and an artisan market with lots of local brands. Also, live music lovers will want to swing in on opening night to see Bird Peterson and during the pop-up’s finale for a Motown Christmas special.
Gibson Street Bar
For the second year in a row, this South Lamar spot has been decked out and transformed into Gibson Wonderland. Hop in a sleigh for a quick pic and be sure to peruse the hefty seasonal cocktail menu. The Ho Ho Hot Toddy is a good choice, as is the Rum Pum Pum, which features homemade hot buttered rum. This “Christmas Takeover” will be up throughout December.
Those reading this list and wondering, “What about Hanukkah?” will be happy to know that Kitty Cohen’s has the holiday covered. Starting December 18, the east side bar will launch a pop-up called Get Lit, which will come complete with elaborate decorations and Festival of Lights-inspired cocktails. Definitely go for the Latke Punch (featuring potato vodka) that can be ordered as a single serving or in a punch bowl for your whole group.
Lala’s Little Nugget
Sure, locals can take in Lala’s perma-Christmas cheer on any day of the year, but it would be silly to not visit where “the North Pole meets Central Texas” during the actual holidays. Try out one of the bar's signature cocktails, such as Santa’s Irish Coffee, while enjoying the jukebox that’s loaded with classic tunes.
Miracle on 5th Street at The Eleanor
The Miracle on 5th Street has returned to The Eleanor, next-door to The Roosevelt Room. The team has assembled an array of dazzling Christmas decorations and a legit holiday playlist, but it’s the elaborate beverage menu that’s the main draw. There are four special shots; 13 “Miracle” cocktails, such as The Christmapolitan and the Snowball Old Fashioned; and beer and wine options. This pop-up is technically open every day until December 29, but because of private parties and such, it’s advised that you check the calendar before heading that way.
Sippin’ Santa at Nickel City
For those that want to enjoy a holiday pop-up without spending an entire evening trying to get in, there’s the tiki-themed Sippin’ Santa at Nickel City. For $50, you get guaranteed entry, reserved seating, two drinks off of the holiday-themed menu, and a glass that can be taken home. Walk-ins are also welcome. Either way, make sure to try the gin concoction, the Shaka Kalikimaka. This spot will be open until New Year's Eve.
The W Austin
Whether folks have been naughty or nice, there’s room at the Secret Bar in the W. Through Christmas Day, drop into a version of Santa’s Workshop for “A Krampus Carol.” It will be stocked with plenty of cocktail specials and a decadent, spikeable hot chocolate bar.