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Raise a glass of festive at NE Ohio holiday pop-up bars

This time of year something special may be happening at your local watering hole in Northeast Ohio. Bars and restaurants transform with holiday tunes, strands of tinsel and glistening evergreens to delight the eyes and palate.

Pop-up holiday bars have grown in popularity over the past seven years. We're visiting festive locations in Hudson, Cleveland and Willoughby.

Miracle on 4th Street

In the crowded alley on East 4th Street in downtown Cleveland normally lies the Society Lounge, a speakeasy-type cocktail bar. But for the holidays, the lounge transforms into a holiday menagerie of twinkling lights and Christmas-themed cocktails known as Miracle on 4th Street.

A photo of Miracle on 4th Street interior decor.
J. Nungesser
Ideastream Public Media
Society Lounge in Cleveland turns into Miracle on 4th Street during the holiday season. The location features festive decor and numerous specialty drinks that come in whimsical glassware like T-rex and unicorn-shaped mugs.

Cassaundra Hollaway is the general manager and operator of the Society Lounge. According to Hollaway, the lounge opened 10 years ago and started as a classic cocktail bar that continues to grow in popularity, especially around the holidays.

In 2018 the Society Lounge jumped on the trend of turning their lower level lounge into a holiday wonderland. Each year since, the amount of holiday-themed decor has grown.

"So whether it's been in someone's basement for the year, we bring it back out and go 'We can use this!'," Hollaway said. "People get really excited about the holidays. They want to be embraced in this like, cheery, merry, and bright. Everyone wants to be festive."

This year for the first time, the lounge sought the assistance of a designer to help come up with the concepts and curate the holiday theme.

"You're drinking out of a unicorn or a T-rex mug," said Hollaway in reference to the pop-up bar holiday glassware. "This is great, I'm [like] a little kid but with alcohol."

Miracle on 4th Street (Society Lounge) is located at 2063 E. 4th Street in Cleveland.


Let's travel south to Summit County into the New England-style Christmas postcard of Hudson. Amidst the yuletide greetings and strands of garland with red festive bows lies Blitzen's (normally Hudson's).

With its window displays featuring the Grinch in one window and Ralphie donning his pink bunny suit and Red Ryder BB gun from "A Christmas Story" in the other, Blitzen's attracts visitors from all over the region this time of year.

A photo of J.J. Altamari, a chef and partner at Hudson's Restaurant and Catering.
J. Nungesser
Ideastream Public Media
J.J. Altamari is a chef and partner at Hudson's Restaurant and Catering. Altamari credits his years in the restaurant industry and experience in opening Hudson's.

J.J. Altamari is the chef and partner of Hudson's along with his father and brother. He said that he and his brother saw the holiday pop-up bar trend start to percolate about seven years ago. They wondered if they should bring the trend to Hudson.

Altamari was able to convince his brother to give the concept a shot.

"We literally just started rummaging through Christmas decorations, and we wanted to make it feel like Christmas was literally everywhere in the entire place," said Altamari. "We are always trying to spread cheer as much as possible. We have people driving [from] over an hour away to come have dinner and experience Blitzen's with us."

Blizens's (normally Hudson's) is located at 80 N. Main Street in Hudson.

Kava Sol

For those looking to for an alternative to alcohol but still wanting the holiday aesthetic, Willoughby, east of Cleveland offers an option in Kava Sol.

A kava bar, Kava Sol, is a non-alcoholic venue that offers plant-based, botanical drinks. Owners Lindsay Kronk and Mathew Butler said that the drinks can give you a feeling like alcohol without the potential negative repercussions.

A shot of the Kava Sol bar and co-owner Mathew Butler helping serve a festive drink.
J. Nungesser
Ideastream Public Media
Mathew Butler serving drinks at the bar at Kava Sol in Willoughby. He, along with co-owner Lindsay Kronk opened the location in June 2023.

The bar offers a bright winter-themed experience and drinks that will get you in the holiday spirit without the possibility of a hangover in the morning. The location primarily serves kava and kratom tea.

Kronk said the kava concept is not only for the drinks but also for the atmosphere.

"We aim to create a community where people can come, enjoy themselves in a setting like a (traditional) bar without the pressure to drink alcohol," Kronk said.

Kava Sol is located at 4055 Erie St. Rear in Willoughby.

Whether it's Miracle on 4th Street, Blitzen's, Kava Sol, or one of the many other holiday-themed bars and restaurants in Northeast Ohio, there's always an option to relax and sip a glass of something festive.

J. Nungesser is a multiple media journalist at Ideastream Public Media.