Boulder County bartenders have a holiday drink for you, whether you fancy a traditional hot toddy on a heated rooftop or love a themed experience at a pop-up bar that’s so incredibly committed to over-the-top kitschy Christmas decor you’d expect to run into Clark Griswold enjoying eggnog in a Santa mug.
From spiked hot cocoa to mulled wine, Christmas cocktails only come around once a year. So, put on your ugly Christmas sweater. You’ll want some drinking mittens, too. (COVID-19 restrictions, at the moment, limit bars and restaurants to outdoor dining and to-go). It’s time to hit the Christmas cocktail circuit and toast to the season with a boozy, holiday-themed beverage.
These are the places in and around Boulder that are making spirits bright during this unprecedented holiday season.
Miracle on Main Street
836 1/2 Main Street, Louisville
It’s a Christmas miracle: Louisville has its very own Christmas pop-up bar that’s right off of Main Street, tucked behind Bittersweet Café. You’d be hard-pressed to find more Christmas kitsch per square foot anywhere else in Colorado: Miracle on Main Street is decked out with lights, peppermint swirls, tinsel, light-up reindeers, ornaments and a Santa statue on standby for selfies.
This delightful North Pole watering hole has a themed menu that covers the holiday classics like eggnog and mulled wine in addition to some more inventive Christmas cocktails, like a Fruitcake Flip made, in part, with brandy, rum and cherry bitters.
The pop-up bar is a 21-and-up venue. But, during the day on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, Miracle on Main opens up to kids who can assemble gingerbread houses in the cozy greenhouses.
Patrick and Azadeh Walsh, the owners of Bittersweet Café and Por wine bar, brought the holiday pop up, and accompanying cheer, to Louisville this year. Proceeds from the $5 per person reservation fee goes to Louisville Rising and Community Food Share.
Your group can drink in themed, heated greenhouses (Rowdy Reindeers, Winter Wonderland, Hogwarts Holiday) that are strung with Christmas lights and come equipped with hand sanitizer at the door. Or, for a VIP experience, book a candy cane themed suite.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more Christmas-y, the pop-up bar has themed nights. Wear your ugly Christmas sweater on Tuesday nights. Roll up in your holiday pajamas on Sundays. Reservations are strongly recommended.
2018 10th St., Boulder
As we scrolled the rum-centric menu at Jungle on a chilly (but sunny) Sunday afternoon, my friend and I paused for a delightful tangent. Why do we correlate tropical drinks with Christmas? The bartender took a stab: Island-inspired drinks, like Christmas, have an element of fantasy. Right! Then there’s the tropical version of Santa in sunglasses, clutching a pineapple-garnished cocktail between palm trees on a far-off beach where he’s mingling with flamingos instead of reindeers. And something about “Margaritaville” and Jimmy Buffet, right? So, yes, Jungle is a bonafide Christmas bar, trading the tropical plants that fill its interior with garland at its outdoor post. Here, you’ll find burgers, fries, and tropical libations that you can take to go or enjoy on the rainbow-painted picnic tables as you dream of a private island or the North Pole. It’s a choose-your-own escapism adventure these days.
Avanti Food & Beverage — Boulder
1401 Pearl St., Boulder
Heaters plus that famed Colorado sunshine will keep you toasty on the rooftop at Avanti Food & Beverage. Pick up a to-go meal from one of the vendors (you’ve got plenty of choices from pizza at New Yorkese or beef noodle soup from Pig and Tiger or arepas from Quiero Arepas and more). Then, choose your cocktail. The “winter warmers” menu has you covered with coffee spiked with tequila and a cinnamon syrup, a boozy hot chocolate made with a Finnish vodka, an Irish coffee and a hot toddy made with Old Forester bourbon and a local honey.
1617 Pearl St., Boulder
If you’re a holiday movie buff, you might remember the four food groups (all sugary) espoused by Buddy the Elf in “Elf.” So, psst, Buddy the Elf, if you’re reading … Snooze has peppermint bark pancakes topped with spiced cocoa sauce that we think you’ll agree makes for a balanced diet. The breakfast spot on East Pearl St. has sweet and savory options on its holiday breakfast menu (i.e. Tender Belly bacon glazed with a jalapeño and pomegranate molasses). A trio of drinks make up the holiday cocktail menu: A Cosmopolitan Mimosa with orange liqueur and cranberry juice, Spiked Cocoa topped with crushed candy canes and Celebration Cider, which is a hot mulled cider with rum and aperol.
St. Julien Hotel and Spa
900 Walnut St., Boulder
For the most decadent, gourmet hot chocolate in Boulder, head to the St. Julien and order The Polar Express Hot Chocolate. If you’re a guest at the hotel, you can order the hot chocolate to your room to enjoy while bundled up in a robe. Otherwise, enjoy this chocolate treat on the hotel’s terrace. This boozy hot chocolate is made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Valrhona dark and milk chocolate pieces and topped with browned, mini marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate pieces.