It seems that Clark Griswold was onto something — more is definitely better when it comes to holiday decorations. Or, at least, that’s the philosophy several festive Austin bars are employing this year as they deck their halls for holiday-themed pop-ups. Want to make merry with them starting this month? Here’s where to go to get into the spirit of the season.
Lala’s Little Nugget, 2207 Justin Lane
When: 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday year-round. During the holiday season, because of popularity, Lala’s will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
Technically, this is no pop-up — Lala’s is famously all about Christmas 12 months a year. But this longtime North Austin dive bar gets particularly packed around the holidays. Feel merry and bright (and maybe a little buzzed) with cocktails such as the tequila-based Reindeer Water while surrounded by decorations such as a replica of the leg lamp from "A Christmas Story."
More information: lalasaustintexas.com
Donn’s Depot, 1600 W. Fifth St.
When: 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday starting Nov. 25 through Dec. 31
What: Formerly a train depot now dwarfed by the high-rises of downtown Austin, Donn’s decorates a little earlier than usual this year because of how late Thanksgiving arrives. Starting Monday, white and multicolored string lights and other festive decorations will cover nearly every inch of space, even the bathrooms. The live music-loving dive also likes to offer playfully named drinks like the Lump of Coal (mezcal, allspice, bitters and a Campari rinse).
More information: facebook.com/donnsdepot
Miracle on 5th Street at the Eleanor, 307 W. Fifth St.
When: 2 p.m. daily starting Nov. 25 through Dec. 29, with extended hours (12 p.m. daily) Dec. 19-25 (schedule may vary depending on private event reservations)
What: The Eleanor, the sibling spot to renowned cocktail bar the Roosevelt Room, is one of more than 90 locations around the globe turning into kitschy holiday bars. Miracle on 5th Street here will be even more over the top with its winter wonderland scene and traditional holiday decor.
>> MORE: Choose your own holiday bar adventure with three of Austin’s most decked-out
You can bet the cups of cheer on offer this year are similarly delightful, such as the Snowball Old Fashioned (caramelized pecan-infused Maker’s Mark Bourbon, spiced molasses syrup, wormwood bitters and orange zest) and the Christmas Carol Barrel (Olmeca Altos Blanco Tequila, Cointreau, Caffe Del Fuego Coffee Liqueur, iced hot chocolate, and chocolate and coffee dust). There will also be a small chalkboard menu of festive in-house creations.
More information: miracleon5thst.com
Sippin’ Santa at Nickel City, 1133 E. 11th St.
When: 2 p.m. daily starting Nov. 25 through Dec. 31 (schedule may vary depending on private event reservations)
What: What if Santa decided he preferred the Caribbean over the Arctic? Well, he might ditch his usual red-and-white suit for a Hawaiian shirt and sip on rum cocktails in Tiki mugs instead of milk and cookies. Such is the premise behind Sippin’ Santa, a tropical spinoff of the Miracle concept that debuted last year. Themed cocktails include the Kris Kringle Colada (Jamaican rum, amaro, allspice liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice and cream of coconut).
More information: sippinsantapopup.com
Gibson Wonderland at Gibson Street Bar, 1109 S. Lamar Blvd.
When: 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, 12 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday starting Dec. 1-31
What: No doubt this South Austin bar loves the holidays. Gibson Street Bar goes all out decorating for Halloween and will do the same for Christmas, with mistletoe and much more hung on the walls of the bar and patio. The cocktail menu is split between winter warmers like the Rum Pum Pum (aka hot buttered rum) and seasonal offerings like the Gin-gle Juice (Dripping Springs gin, green chartreuse, sweet vermouth and orange bitters).
More information: facebook.com/events/511410049585720/
JW Marriott Austin’s Snow Much Fun on Congress Avenue, 110 E. Second St.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through Dec. 25
What: Wishing for a winter wonderland in the middle of Texas? The JW Marriott Austin’s weekend activation can give you a white Christmas thanks to a snow machine that will blanket the rooftop bar, Edge, with snow. There will also be live holiday music, s’mores and themed cocktails such as Santa's Cider and Frosty's Old Fashioned.
More information: marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/details-1/ausjw-jw-marriott-austin/
A Krampus Carol at the W Austin, 200 Lavaca St.
When: 5 p.m. Dec. 12-25
What: Not many details have been released yet about this themed pop-up at the W Austin’s Secret Bar, but you can expect with Krampus involved that it won’t be your traditional scene of merriment — what with Krampus being the evil antithesis to Santa. There will be an elaborate hot chocolate "machine" over the bar.
More information: marriott.com/hotels/travel/auswh-w-austin
The South Pole At Geraldine’s, 605 Davis St.
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 17-21
What: Last year, the restaurant at the Hotel Van Zandt transformed into a life-size snow globe. This year, Geraldine’s is turning into the South Pole, complete with a snow machine, cozy igloo lounges on the pool deck, an appearance by Southern Santa and a holiday-themed cocktail menu with drinks such as the Ho Ho Horchata.
More information: geraldinesaustin.com
Nostalgic Noel at the Cavalier, 2400 Webberville Road
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 19-28
What: The toys Santa delivers tend to be the best things about the holiday season when we’re kids, no? So the folks at East Austin’s the Cavalier are reminiscing about those days with a pop-up that will feature "our favorite ’80s and ’90s toys and cartoons — in cocktail form," according to co-owner Rachelle Fox. Peer through the ViewMaster menu to select from the sentimental sips.
More information: thecavalieratx.com/events/nostalgic-noel