As those advent calendars continue the countdown to Dec. 25, many local watering holes are transforming their interiors into mini winter wonderlands. Staff have sufficiently decked the halls with lights, bows, tinsel, candy canes—you name it—all to create a cozy atmosphere for guests to snap photos and get into the holiday spirit. And, as the star on top of the Christmas tree, many of these bars are also offering specialty drinks (think: toasted marshmallow martinis and “Jingle Juice” cocktails) to round out your very-merry visit.
From vintage Santa statues to flickering fireplaces, even Scrooges will find something to smile at while grabbing a drink at the following spots this season.
Ampersea: Beautifully curated with wintry white accents, this waterfront destination in Fells Point has officially brought back its annual Winter Wonderland pop-up through the end of January. The dreamy dining room glows with a frosty-blue backlit bar, columns wrapped in fluffy flowers, and thousands of white snowflakes and LEDs hanging from the fabric-draped ceiling. You can also head onto the heated back patio to enjoy a fireside glass of Champagne or a cozy cocktail—like a vanilla vodka and Bailey’s concoction garnished with a flaming marshmallow. Reservations: Make them via OpenTable, here.
Anchor Tavern: If you haven’t yet given this subterranean concept—which took over the former Tavern at the Admiral Fell Inn last year—a shot, December is the time. Step up to the Fells Point bar to order an Old Fashioned or specialty sip (think: the green “Grinch” or “Santa Baby” martini) from the nattily dressed servers amidst all of the garland, ornaments, and twinkling lights. With a tall tree and an entire wall of gift bows, there are plenty of photo backdrops for selfies, too. Reservations: No need—just show up.
The Cannon Room: Throughout December, this bar inside the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore in Fells Point is transforming into “Whiskey Workshop,” a holiday iteration of the cozy speakeasy decorated with gorgeous golden accents, candlelit tables, and lush winter greenery. Don’t miss the soul-soothing jazz playlists and signature bar bites (line your stomach with a filling burger and order of truffle fries) on offer, alongside the next-level whiskey cocktails. Reservations: You can reserve a table (the bar is open Thursday through Sunday evenings), here.
Dutch Courage: It’s the most wonderful time of the year at this Old Goucher favorite, whose annual “Gin-gle Bells” takeover is officially in full swing. Throughout December, the bar and its back patio are festooned with everything from stockings and snowflakes to candy canes and Christmas trees. And the staff puts just as much thought into the seasonal menu as they do the decor. Pair charcuterie boards, snacks, toasts, and sammies (toasted brie and seasonal jam, anyone?) with an array of creative sips in vintage vessels. You can’t go wrong with the cinnamon and allspice dram-infused “Bah Rum-Bug,” spirit-free “Yuletide Joy” with dark chocolate and orange bitters, or a classic cup of house eggnog spiked with Catoctin Creek rye. Reservations: Snag them using OpenTable, here.
Lib’s Grill: The Liberatore’s little-sister concept is ringing in its 10-year anniversary with an all-out holiday experience aptly named “Cocktails & Candy Canes.” At all three locations in Perry Hall, Maple Lawn, and Bel Air, enjoy eats and drinks amongst floor-to-ceiling snow, stars, and Santas. But the decor is just the beginning. Throughout the month, the yuletide interior will also be the setting for special events such as Christmas Carol-oke on Dec. 12, a Buddy the Elf-inspired cocktail dinner on Dec. 14, an ugly sweater bash on Dec. 18, and a pajama recovery party the day after Christmas. Plan a visit to experience the bar in all of its cheery glory while imbibing a spicy “Ho-Ho-Ho Toddy,” pineapple and citrus-infused “Mele Kalikimaka,” or a round of “Getting Blitzen’” cinnamon whiskey shots, among other holly-jolly drinks. Reservations: Make them via Resy, here.
Miracle Pop-Up Bar: This nationally renowned holiday attraction is making its return to Power Plant Live (taking over Leinie’s Lodge and Beer Garden) and Hanover’s Live Casino and Hotel once again this winter. Open throughout the end of December, the bars pair festive fun with holiday nostalgia. Every square inch of each is adorned with tinsel, trinkets, lights, ornaments, sleigh bells, and other snowy surprises. (Don’t be shocked to spot presents hanging from the ceiling or an animatronic Santa behind a DJ booth.) The themed food and drink menu serves sweet-and-savory snacks (think along the lines of cranberry-glazed turkey meatballs and sprinkle-topped Belgian waffles) with cocktails like the “Chrismapolitan” and “Snowball Old Fashioned.” Reservations: Make them for Baltimore via OpenTable, here, and for Hanover on the casino’s website, here.
Sally O’s: The weather might be frightful, but this Highlandtown hangout keeps its patio heated year-round—and it boasts tons of strung lights, snowflakes, and ornaments to help diners savor the season. (Don’t miss the glowing tree and decorations inside, as well.) Aside from serving up highlights on their regular menu (always order the smashburger!), chef/owner Jesse Sandlin and her crew are gearing up for the bar’s annual seven-course Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner on Dec. 23. Reservations: Grab a table on Tock, here.
Slainte Irish Pub & Restaurant: Equipped with extravagant exterior lights and nightly 7 p.m. “snow showers” from the roof, this Thames Street sports hub screams holiday cheer before you even set foot through the doors. Fittingly dubbed “A Slainte Story,” the new wintry decor makes the bar the perfect place for a holiday-themed game of I-Spy, highlighting everything from wreaths and gingerbread men to colorful blinking lights and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. (The bar even has its own leg lamp to go along with the A Christmas Story theme.) Reservations: Not necessary, but be sure to follow Slainte on Instagram for announcements on holiday programming—including themed brunches, celebratory crafts, and Christmas movie marathons—happening throughout the month.