Last Updated on December 3, 2021 by Jeremy
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The Tipsy Elf opened next to Hough's Taproom during Christmas 2021 as a ticketed pop-up bar experience with mulled wine, cocktails, holiday games, and more.
As we are always on the lookout for the best Christmas popup bars in Pittsburgh, you know we had to check this one out. As it so happens, we were invited to this event by the folks at Hidden Pittsburgh for a media night and couldn't pass up on the opportunity.
As ticketed pop-up bars are a different kind of bar experience, we thought we'd share a bit about what the pop-up was like and then dive into the ticketing aspect of it more to share what you get for the entry fee.
The Tipsy Elf Offers Drinks and a Comfortable Vibe
As with most pop-up bars, there are two main points always worth discussing- the ambiance and the drinks. These two can be all over the place at popups, but thankfully, The Tipsy Elf did both of these quite well.
First, there is the ambiance. The Tipsy Elf features two distinct rooms for visitors to enjoy. The first one you see is designed to be an outdoor winter wonderland (but, thankfully, indoors) complete with snow-covered trees and a mountain of Christmas presents to name a few. The second takes you into a cozy cottage that is perfectly decked out for the holidays with trees, faux fireplaces, the bar (naturally), and more.
We have to admit, the vibe in this one was quite well executed. It is simple but had much more thought put into it than other popup bars we've been to. The fact that you have two themed zones that are connected with each other makes it even better- of course you want to go into a warm cottage for a drink after playing outside in the snow, and that is the feeling you get here.
We should reiterate that you shouldn't go into this one thinking it is going to be over-the-top like other popups. But the comfortable ambiance here does work and is something other popup bars could possibly learn from.
Then, there are the drinks. Upon arrival, we were given a welcome mulled wine which was, well, pretty underflavored in all respects. Thankfully, the cocktail program at the bar was much better and we went with the punny menu options like You'll Shoot Your Rye Out (a straightforward rye Old Fashioned with maple and cinnamon) and It's Be-GIN-ning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (a gin-based cocktail with cranberry, egg white, and spices) and really liked the flavors they got out of them (the latter may be on the sweeter side for some and it was almost reminded us of a fruit-flavored candy cane).
The cocktails were a bit small for the $15 price tag, but well enough executed that we quickly forgot about that considering the ambiance at large.
From there, there are a few other things to keep in mind about The Tipsy Elf as this really is a different kind of pop-up experience!
So What Makes The Tipsy Elf Different?
Unlike other Christmas bars in Pittsburgh, The Tipsy Elf presents itself more like an event. This is a timed, ticketed experience (advanced purchase required) that is designed to cap the crowds and give guests a relaxing time as compared to other, shall we say, more crowded establishments. During our visit, for example, no guest appeared to struggle to find a seat or get table space, which made for an enjoyable time and some wonderful photo opportunities without others in the way.
Each ticket includes a 90-minute timeslot, a welcome drink (the mulled wine mentioned above), access to a few holiday games to win prizes like candy canes or shots at the bar (the challenge for the shot is hard and we only saw one person succeed), an elf emcee interacting with the crowd, and of course the ability to purchase extra beverages at an additional charge.
Is this one expensive for what you get? We could see arguments both ways. Personally, a welcome drink and a well-thought-out ambiance can be worth the entry fee for some people. Admittedly, for us at least, we do wish that welcome drink was one of the cocktails which were objectively much better than the wine (albeit on the small end). As such, you're likely going to spend $30 per person at a minimum if you want to try at least one cocktail here, which is why we could entertain arguments on the value both ways.
All that being said, we have to admit we had a pretty good time at The Tipsy Elf- the mulled wine notwithstanding. Sometimes simply being able to break away from holiday chaos for a few minutes of relaxation is all we need- paid entry or not.
The Tipsy Elf is located next to Hough's Taproom at 563 Greenfield Avenue in Greenfield and runs from late November to December 30th in 2020. We were invited in to check this event out by the organizers; however, paid for the additional cocktails ourselves. As always, all opinions are our own.