It seems like just about every hospitality brand has some kind of holiday pop-up these days—from Christmas-themed cocktails and ice skating at Ponce City Market’s rooftop to the over-the-top decor at Storico Vino, the Select, and more. They’re polished and curated, but when everyone knows about them, it can also mean less of that spontaneous, under-the-radar vibe we loved when themed pop-ups first came on the scene a few years ago. Enter Secret Santa ATL (also known as “Loose Lips”), a speakeasy hidden in a warehouse deep within Pullman Yards in Kirkwood.
The brainchild of beverage director Marian Chism, the concept started as an off-handed comment she made to property owner Adam Rosenfelt. “I jokingly said, ‘You know, I could throw a speakeasy up in the tunnels and people would come.’” Instead of brushing it off, she zeroed in on an interior, graffiti-strewn warehouse space most recently used as a staging area for the cast of the Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, which ran at Pullman before Stranger Things: The Experience began this fall.
Chism brought in a bar, repurposed some unused furniture from the venue’s concert green rooms, covered surfaces with festive wallpaper, hung a few Christmas trees upside down from the ceiling, and strung some twinkling lights. The effect is festive, yet gritty, with a bit of an “old hippie vibe,” she says.
The cocktails match the theme. Chism, who won a mixology award at the 2021 Bardstown Bourbon tasting competition, created a menu of eight specialty cocktails including 8 Maids, No Milk (a clarified spiked eggnog), Fire & Ice (spicy habañero margarita with a strawberry floater), and the Woodstock Mule (made with a vodka-kombucha cordial and ginger beer). Most are served in quirky vessels, such as a flute shaped like a woman’s body and a mushroom-shaped glass.
Secret Santa ATL hosted a soft opening in early December and has been steadily filling the clandestine space that holds up to 70 guests ever since during their weekly opening hours from 8 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Saturday. The plan is to keep the bar going past Christmas, possibly until early February, shifting away from the full-on holiday theme and switching up some of the drink offerings after the new year.
In true speakeasy fashion, entry requires a codeword, released each night via @secret_santaatl, the pop-up’s private Instagram account (you’ll need to request to follow). The codeword comes with instructions on how to locate the Nutcracker flag-draped door, but once you’re on the Pullman Yards property, share the secret codeword with any of the roving security guards and they may offer to show you the way.