What Where When-sday: Christmas Pop-Ups

This week for What Where When-sday, we (WNXP’s Marquis Munson and WPLN’s Rachel Iacovone) set out to show you a different side of the holiday pop-up scene. Yes, we’ve compiled them all in our interactive map below, but the places we stopped on our personal bar crawl were away from the downtown rooftops, all offered food and two-out-of-three were family friendly.

P.S. You can find our usual full list of events coming up this week if you scroll to the end.

Stop 1: Miracle

The Miracle pop-up at Pearl Diver

“We’re stoked to do it every year,” Corey Ladd told us at our first stop.

He’s one of four co-owners of Pearl Diver, which is now in its fourth year being part of the Miracle pop-up takeover.

“This time of the year is our busiest season,” Ladd said. “You would think that Pearl Diver being a tropical, warm vibe type of place, it would be the summertime.”

But the place is completely transformed. Strings of light crisscross the ceiling. Ornaments and presents hang from the wires. Stockings line the windows, which glow now with red and green.

To get it all done in time for the winter holidays, especially after the bar’s Halloween pop-up, the decorating begins promptly on Nov. 1.

“It takes about 40 to 50 people collectively,” Ladd said. “We shut down for one full day, and we do a full build off of all the Christmas stuff. It continues to collect throughout the rest of the month of December, and then by Christmas Eve, it’s full-on. We have all the bells and whistles, and then we take everything down and completely redecorate for New Year’s Eve.”

What stands out a bit from the pack here is the bright blue section you pass at the entrance.

“We obviously don’t want to completely isolate the people that are not the Santa worshipers, if you will,” Ladd said. “We’ve definitely wanted to create a little nook of, essentially, our Hanukkah corner. We have probably four or five members of our staff that are Jewish. And it’s, for one, out of respect, and two, we just think it’s another dash of cool decorations. I mean, it’s blue. Everything else is red and green. Let’s just add a little flash of color right over here.”

A variety of drinks and the menu at Pearl Diver’s Miracle pop-up

We tried…

  • 1. Nice Shot: rye whiskey, gingerbread
  • 2. Jingle Balls Nog: cognac, cream sherry, almond milk, cream, egg, vanilla, nutmeg
  • 3. Hot Buttered Rum: (served hot) aged Jamaican rum, velvet falernum, mixed spiced butter, oat milk, nutmeg
  • 4. Marshmallows & Unicorns: gin, vanilla liqueur, velvet falernum, cherry liqueur, cardamom, black pepper, marshmallow, lemon, egg white, tiki bitters, soda
  • 5. Snowball Old-Fashioned: rye whiskey, gingerbread, aromatic & wormwood bitters, orange essence

Stop 2: Buddy’s Bar

This nighttime and weekend Christmas pop-up is new to the scene, and at a perhaps unexpected location: Pancake Pantry.

The beloved breakfast joint’s downtown location reopens Thursday through Sunday nights during the holiday season to bring all of us the kind of joy Buddy the Elf feels when he hears the name “Santa” (“I know him!”).

Buddy’s Bar at Pancake Pantry in downtown Nashville is decorated with cut-outs to mimic the way Buddy decorated overnight in “The Elf” movie.

The extensive cocktail menu includes drinks named after familiar scenes from the movie, and the food list features iconic dishes like, of course, “spaghetti” and syrup.

The people must hear a full report, even if the idea of noodles swimming in chocolate syrup scares some (namely, Marquis). And the good news is, not only did we survive, but the spaghetti and syrup should be on the menu year-round in our humble opinion.

The spaghetti and syrup at Buddy’s Bar

This is a very kid-friendly option by the way. The presence of little ones was not only allowed but encouraged.

We tried…

  • 1. Spaghetti and Syrup: Pancake Pantry buttermilk batter “spaghetti style” with sprinkles, powdered sugar, homemade maple syrup and a side of sausage balls
  • 2. Son of a Nutcracker: an adult root beer float essentially with the addition of Screwball peanut butter whiskey and Rich’s sweet cream
  • 3. He’s an Angry Elf: gin, Fever Tree tonic bruleed oranges, cinnamon

Stop 3: Saint Nicky’s

Another family-friendly option is Nicky’s Coal Fired Pizza in the Nations.

Yes, they’ve been doing a Christmas takeover for some time now, but it gets bigger and better every time. This year, a giant inflatable gingerbread man with spinning buttons greets you outside, which certainly sets the tone for the copious pounds of tinsel hanging inside and sweaters stapled to the walls.

The Saint Nicky’s pop-up at Nicky’s Coal Fired

While you down festive cocktails, there is plenty of holiday food to be had — like their Christmas tree-shaped pasta — and that means a better drinking experience (for you now and tomorrow morning) plus the ability to go for just the food as a family.

The Gingerbread Old-Fashioned cocktail at the Saint Nicky’s pop-up at Nicky’s Coal Fired

We tried…

  • 1. Frozen Egg Nog: exactly what it sounds like
  • 2. Blitzen’s Blitz: espresso vodka, coffee liqueur and a holiday sugar sprinkle
  • 3. Gingerbread Old-Fashioned: bourbon, gingerbread syrup and bitters