It’s officially time for the jolliest holiday bar experience this side of the North Pole. Santa Camp is back. And this year, Santa Claus has set up camp in not just one, but TWO Camp Bar locations, ensuring that more folks have access to a giant dose of holiday cheer.
The full complement of holiday spirit is already in full swing at Camp Bar Tosa, 6600 W. North Ave., where you can gather beneath the festive lights and shimmy along with Santa and Mrs. Claus while enjoying a holiday inspired libation. But, starting Nov. 24, you’ll also be able to join in the fun at Camp Bar Shorewood, 4044 N. Oakland Ave., where the cozy bar will offer up an entirely different (but equally festive) experience.
Even the kids can get into the spirit with a very special opportunity to mail a letter to Santa; keep reading for all the magical details.
Merry and bright
At Santa Camp even the grinchiest of grinches will have a tough time preventing their lips from curling into a joyful holiday grin. That’s because there’s glitter in the air (plus thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights, baubles and glittery decorations to peruse).
Be sure to cozy up to the fire and give a wink to the stately (but magically animated) nutcrackers keeping watch over the holiday gifts.
And it's Camp Bar, so you'll find plenty of woodland creatures, including a family of friendly jingle bears dressed up in their peppermint best.
If all else fails, you can bask in the glow of the legendary leg lamp... no one will judge.
Holiday magic for the kiddos
Santa Camp was created to bring out the child in all of us. But this year, there will be something extra special for the kids: an opportunity to receive a personalized Nice List certificate along with a letter (festooned in glittery North Pole snow) from Santa Claus himself.
It’s a magical experience that’s sure to offer up treasured holiday memories for years to come. Plus, $1 from each letter submitted will be donated to the Make A Wish Foundation.
There are two ways to get in on the fun.
You can head to the paperwhites website and submit your child’s letter to Santa online (for a $10 fee). Their letter will be automatically forwarded via the magic of the internet to Santa’s home at the North Pole.
Even better, you can download a paper copy of the letter template (for a $10 fee), cozy up by the fire, and fill in all the details at home. When you’re done, head over to either Camp Bar Tosa or Camp Bar Shorewood, grab a cup of hot chocolate, a festive Shirley Temple or a mug of warm cider and make the magic happen by putting your letter inside the special red mailbox at the bar.
There’s just one catch. All letters must be submitted before Dec. 10 to ensure Santa has time to reply before he delivers his holiday gifts on Christmas Eve.
All the Christmas spirits
As usual, you’ll also find a menu of special Santa-approved cocktails including favorites like the classic Old Fashioned Christmas (the Camp classic old fashioned with your choice of Korbel Brandy or Old Forester Bourbon); the Gin & Tidings (a shaken gin martini with lemon, simple syrup and rosemary); and the Merrier Margarita (tequila, spiced pear liqueur, lime and agave with a float of Grand Marnier).
Feeling cozy? Ward off the winter chill with a mug of Feliz Navidad (hot cocoa spiked with tequila, a dash of cinnamon and whipped cream) or a Shitters Full (hot cocoa spiked with your choice of Jack Daniel’s Fire or Dr. McGillicuddy’s). Then take a seat in the loungey three seasons room where everything (yes everything) twinkles.
In fact, there’s a cocktail for every holiday mood.
Feeling naughty? Then green is your color, and The Grinch is your drink. This cool minty concoction featuring creme de menthe, creme de cacao and half and half (with a jolly candy cane garnish) is guaranteed to expand your holiday heart by at least three sizes.
But if you’re nice, there’s plenty of cheer in Baking Cookies for Santa, a sweet sugar cookie martini with vanilla vodka, amaretto, Irish cream and a splash of cream for good measure.
Of course, you can get the real party started with festive shots like the Little Jerk (Rumchata and vanilla vodka); Buzz’s Girlfriend (Jack Daniel’s Honey with lemon); or Bad Santa (44 North Mountain Huckleberry Cream and Creme de Cacao).
And yes, there will also be plenty of beer – from microbrews to domestics and imports – as well as ciders, hard seltzers and wine, plus Camp Bar snacks to ward off the holiday munchies.
Santa Camp is in full swing daily at Camp Bar Tosa and Camp Bar Shorewood (starting Nov. 24). Hours are Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday from 3 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.; Saturday from noon to 2:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 2 a.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.