The Pop-Up Bars You Need to Visit This Year
In this Instagram-fueled, ephemera-obsessed culture we all live in, pop-up bars have become the ultimate experiential places to drink. From themes like Rick and Morty to annual mainstays like Miracle Bar, no idea is safe from pop-up bar mania. Here is a look at some of our favorite recurring pop-ups, as well as some that are in the final planning stages. Due to the come and go nature of pop-up bars, this list will be updated regularly as we learn about future events.
Cherry Blossom Pop-Up
Theme: D.C.’s cherry blossom festival
Where:Pop-Up Bar in Washington D.C.
Date: Through April 29
Why you should care: Pop-Up Bar D.C. (PUB) is hosting its second annual cherry blossom pop-up bar and took it up a notch this year. Japanese-inspired cocktails and snacks like tempura seaweed and sriracha peas are on the menu, and a seemingly infinite number of cherry blossoms hang from the ceiling. If your ‘gram is in need of something bright and pink, you need to make a visit before it closes.
Theme: Champagne everything
Where:The Rainbow Room in New York
Date: Through the end of May
Why you should care: At the top of Rockefeller Center, the wide-windowed Gallery at Rainbow Room offers views of lower Manhattan that can’t be matched. It also has a new theme that pops up every season. For spring, the theme is Champagne. It’s the seasonal pop-up with the best views.
Theme: College Spring Break
Where: Wayward in Denver
Date: Through May
Why you should care: The beach came to Denver this year. Beach balls, lounge chairs and sand boxes will fill the back room of Wayward through May. ‘90s music videos play on repeat around the room, and Jello Shots and spring break inspired drinks fill the menu. If that’s not enough, there are also two virtual reality stations to sit underneath heat lamps and look out at the (virtual) beach right in front of you.
Theme: Italian countryside
Where: Eataly in New York City
Date: April 12 through the summer
Why you should care: For the past two years, Eataly's rooftop bar has taken on a beach theme with umbrellas and cabanas. This year it's looking inland with a pop up countryside vibe 14 floors above the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Serra, which means "greenhouse" in Italian, is overflowing with plants. The spot will host a small farmer's market on the first Sunday of every month, and sporadic "Drinkeasy" nights where you have to call ahead for a password to get in. Food is served alongside drinks like the Dal Giardino, which features peperoncino-infused vodka, and sparkling wine with a Negroni popsicle in it.
Theme: Wayne’s World
Where:The Bucktown Pub in Chicago
Date: April 20-30
Why you should care: Gather around, Wayne’s World fans. Bucktown Pub is turning into an Aurora, Illinois, basement. Decor and furniture will reflect the change, and there will be four signature cocktails and six beers from Around the Bend Beer Company that will have Wayne’s World names.
Date: April 26-28 (Brooklyn) and May 10-12 (L.A.)
Why you should care: Out of all the Marvel superheroes you’d want to drink with in a bar, Deadpool is up near the top. The bars will be outfitted like Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Girls, the bar Deadpool and other mercenaries frequent. It’s co-sponsored by Mike’s Harder (like Mike’s Hard Lemonade, but, well, harder), and will feature Deadpool-inspired cans. The Brooklyn pop-up will have free pizza and the L.A. pop-up will serve chimichangas.
Theme: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal English wedding
Where: Drink Company’s Pop Up Bar in Washington D.C.
Date: May 4 to May 20
Why you should care: Royal wedding mania is setting in. You didn’t get an invite, but partying in a royal wedding themed bar in America’s capital is the next closest thing. There will be a replica of the lemon-elderflower wedding cake and plenty of flowers. One section of the bar will be styled like St. George’s Chapel complete with rosettes, columns and stained glass windows. Drinks range from Martinis to scotch to themed cocktails like “When Harry Met Meghan.” There will, of course, also be an Instagram-ready red and gold throne room replica.
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Theme: Alice in Wonderland
Date: May 11-12
Why you should care: It’s a concept that feels straight out of the Mad Hatter’s brain. The Mad Hatter’s Bus is an immersive dining and cocktail experience located in a red double decker bus complete with scones and smoking cocktails. The only catch is that you need to buy a ticket to experience it.
Theme: Political Tiki
Where:Barrel in Washington D.C.
Date: May 11
Why you should care: The first PoliTiki happened around 20 years ago and was filled with tiki mugs that looked like past presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Abraham Lincoln. America has gone full tiki since then, and PoliTiki is making a comeback. This time, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and Steve Bannon will be getting mugs and the bar will serve classic drinks like Painkillers alongside originals like The Traitor Don’s Mai Tai (in a Trump mug) and The Regal Hawaiian (in an Obama mug).
The Turf Club
Theme: Summer lawn party
Date: May 25 through September on Fridays 4 p.m. to dark and weekends 2 p.m. to dark
Why you should care: If the 360-degree rooftop views from Westlight aren’t reason enough, soaking in the sun on a green space should be. You can take in a bird's eye perspective of every borough from your perch on the green space at the lawn party pop up. Lawn games and beanbag chairs for lounging are available if you ever get tired of looking out on the city. You might be too distracted by the summer snacks like lobster rolls, popcorn and soft pretzels to care as you sip on your cocktails and beer, though.
Theme: Italian alps
Where: Eataly in New York City
Why you should care: Escape winter in New York for a bit and head to Baita, where you are surrounded by an atmosphere reminiscent of the northern Italy apres ski scene. Heaters, hearty polenta and mulled wine make a fulfilling way to defrost when the temperature drops.
Where: Across the country
Why you should care: America’s most famous Christmas-themed pop-up bar started as Miracle on Ninth Street (which is normally Mace in New York’s East Village) and Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack (normally Boilermaker, also in New York). It features over-the-top mugs and holiday cocktails. The idea quickly caught on. In 2017, Miracle pop-ups took over more than 50 bars across the country.
Theme: Shaquille O’Neal
Where: Chicago and Baltimore
Why you should care: You know the song, and you know the basketball legend. Now drink it in—literally. LoveShaq is a tropical pop-up bar that first made an appearance at The Phoenix Cocktail Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In case you’re worried about the authenticity, Shaquille O’Neal himself approved of the bar on Facebook with the caption, “The ‘Shaquiri’ sounds interesting.” LoveShaq, baby yeaahhh.
Where: New York , Los Angeles, Montreal and London
Why you should care: A bar made entirely of Lego bricks. Need we say more? They stepped on Legos’ toes a bit (still better than stepping on actual Legos), and had to change the name and add a disclaimer that it’s not associated with Lego. Still, the show will go on, according to the pop-up’s website. Sign up to the pop-up’s email list to be the first in the know regarding dates and locations.