Where To Go When You Need a Drink This Christmas 2017

Make Christmas shopping much more bearable at this pop-up bar at Ala Moana Center.
The Hogwarts Butterbeer at The Christmas Bar, which opened Dec. 1 for the entire month at Ala Moana Center.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


Simply put, The Christmas Bar at Ala Moana Center is genius.


Stressed-out shoppers can take shelter in this new pop-up bar, which took over the 2,400-square-foot space vacated by Magnolia Bakery near Longs Drugs now through the end of the month. It offers a variety of festive martinis, spiked hot chocolate, glasses of wine, beers on draft and the already-popular Hogwarts Butterbeer, which can be made nonalcoholic. (But why?)


Michael Miller, director of operations and longtime veteran bartender at Tiki’s Grill & Bar, is running this jolly joint, which is decked with garland, Christmas lights and more ornaments than the tree at Honolulu Hale.


“For me, this is super fun,” says Miller, wearing a red collared shirt and a Santa hat. “It’s just about having a good time.”


The pop-up, Christmas-themed bar opened in the space vacated by Magnolia Bakery at Ala Moana Center.


Veteran bartender Michael Miller runs The Christmas Bar—and he’ll greet you with a “Merry Christmas” when you walk in.


If you can imagine where Santa’s elves went to pau hana, it would be this place. The servers are dressed in Christmas sweaters, socks and Santa hats. The menu features five merry martinis, including the Clause-mopolitan ($9) made with citrus vodka, Cointreau, lime and pomegranate juice. Other spirited spirits include a boozy eggnog ($9) with bourbon and a pinch of nutmeg; Mexican hot chocolate ($9) with Kahlua, rum and a pinch of cayenne pepper served hot or cold; and a winter sangria ($8) with vodka, white wine, apricot brandy, apples, cranberries and orange juice.


The winter sangria is one of a more than a dozen cocktails, beers and wines offered at this pop-up bar.


The butterbeer, though, is the most popular, luring Harry Potter fans and muggles who loves the blend of caramel and cream soda. The adult version ($7) has vanilla vodka, Butterscotch Schnapps, cream soda and marshmallow fluff. I’ve had the one from Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, and this is far better. Maybe it’s the alcohol.


There’s also an off-the-menu shot that’s worth inquiring about: The Shot of Joy ($7) combines Peppermint Schnapps, Pinnacle chocolate whipped vodka and créme de cacao for a joyous punch that’s so smooth it’s dangerous. It comes with a mini marshmallow studded with bits of candy cane as a chaser of sorts.


If cocktails aren’t your thing—but you’re still desperate for a drink mid-shopping—the bar offers four beers (two on draft), four kinds of wines and soft drinks, too.


It’s not surprising, given the merriment here, that customers have already come back dressed as elves to sit at the bar or requested to hold their office parties here.


“We just wanted this to be super fun,” Miller says.


If only it would last.


The Christmas Bar, Ala Moana Center near Longs Drugs, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Dec. 31, (808) 951-4707