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Casa Vega Christmas 2021
Photograph: Courtesy Casa Vega

The best holiday bars in L.A.

'Tis the season for eggnog, spiked hot cocoa and other wintertime libations at these five L.A. bars and restaurants.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
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After last year’s homebound holiday season, L.A.’s best chintzy holiday bars (and their expertly made drinks) are back, baby. Unwind after a busy day of shopping for Christmas gifts and mentally preparing to interact with your family in person again with a seasonal cocktail from one of these drinking spots spreading Yuletide cheer and festive vibes—maybe after a trip to see some Christmas lights. Note: Most of these holiday pop-ups will run from now through the end of December, so we suggest booking a visit ASAP to secure a table at your preferred date and time.

Where to drink holly-jolly spirits to your heart's content

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown Arts District

After a year at home, bask in the full holiday glory of Blitzen’s, Here and Now’s annual Christmas pop-up, which runs from November 30 to New Year’s Day. Outside this tiny Arts District bar, you’ll be greeted by a shower of fake snow before stepping into the bar fully decked out in Christmas and Hanukkah decorations, including a photo-ready sled out back. Sip on seasonal drinks, including the mezcal and tequila-spiked You Go, Glen Cocoa and the Baby It’s Cold Outside—a frozen, bourbon-spiked apple cider slushie sweetened with cinnamon maple syrup. Blitzen’s will also have a special food menu on hand full of themed holiday dishes like “leftover” turkey sandwiches, as well as an array of themed events (check their calendar for updates).

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Sherman Oaks

We shudder to think of what Casa Vega’s electric bill looks like after the month of December. A kaleidoscope of floor-to-ceiling Christmas lights with garland and tinsel cover this throwback every holiday season, and have for more than 40 years—making it one of the most festive spots in town. This year, owner Christy Vega has pulled out all the stops: Christmas trees, tinsel, string lights, light-up Santas, reindeer and garlands galore will deck the halls, including new outdoor decor in the iconic Mexican restaurant’s archway drive thru. Patrons can also enjoy a special holiday menu with mole enchiladas and festive drinks, including a Mexican coffee, snowball margarita and hot chocolate in an adorable Santa mug.  

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Los Feliz

It’s never a question of whether Los Feliz’s ultra-cozy Big Bar is going hard over the holidays. The only question is how hard they’ll go, and this year, they're offering hot toddies, Irish coffee, tequila-spiked warm apple cider and a strawberry-flavored eggnog made with two types of brandy. On the non-alcoholic side, Big Bar's sister spot, Alcove Cafe and Bakery, is also offering peppermint, eggnog and gingerbread lattes, as well as non-spiked apple cider and peppermint hot chocolate. Continuing their at-home cocktail tradition from last year, Big Bar is also selling bow-topped drink kits for St. Germain spritzes, martinis, old-fashioneds and more.

  • Restaurants
  • Wine bars
  • Melrose

Holidays got you down? Every evening from now through December 22, throw back a few at this Melrose wine and cocktail bar’s ticketed Office Holiday Party featuring a list of seven appropriately named seasonal cocktails, starting with You’re Drunk Karen, a cranberry-flavored mezcal mule. Each drink ticket also comes with a welcome glass of sparkling wine. For Die Hard Christmas fans, there’s the cognac-based Nakatomi Plaza, while actual Christmas die-hards can enjoy a creamy house eggnog and spiked hot chocolate. You’ll also find plenty of holiday decor throughout the small Palihotel space, including both regular and Charlie Brown Christmas trees, as well as not one but two Elves on the Shelf.

 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Burbank
  • price 3 of 4

From December 9 through January 2, Castaway’s reservation-only cocktail bar will throw a Winter Wonderland pop-up, complete with stylish holiday decor and a bright green holiday cocktail called Drink Up Grinches made with bourbon, Bailey’s, and amaretto and frangelico liqueurs, plus a sprinkle of “holiday spice and something nice.” The Burbank restaurant’s sleek bar also features an outdoor patio with a fireplace that overlooks the Valley—another perfect spot to cozy up with a drink this winter season.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

Experience a life-size gingerbread house at the Godfrey Hotel, whose rooftop bar I|O will have its central bar decked out in decorative gingerbread, royal icing and candy canes from December 18 through the end of the year. I|O will also be offering a gingerbread-themed menu of desserts and cocktails, including spiked eggnog, a gingerbread martini and DIY gingerbread house kits. Other holiday drinks, like the aptly named Sugar Plum, which mixes gin, pink grapefruit, plum sake and gingerbread hot cocoa, will also be on hand for anyone in search of seasonal sipping.

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