To help get in the mood for the upcoming holidays, Pittsburghers may want to indulge in a nightcap at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gingerman — the fictional interfaith couple whose “gingerbread” home is currently serving as the Bakery Square pop-up bar, Chrismukkah.
Located in the frothily decorated spot formerly occupied by Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream on Penn Avenue, Chrismukkah, which features both Chanukah and Christmas inspired cocktails, is open daily from 5 p.m. to midnight through the end of December. The pop-up bar is a collaboration of the Galley Group’s Federal Galley and Smallman Galley.
The concept of a Chanukah/Christmas-themed watering hole was conceived by Sophia Milinkovic, the bar director for the Galley Group who also runs the Federal Galley on the North Side, and Matt Zelinsky, the bar manager for Smallman Galley. Zelinsky was raised in an interfaith household with a strong Jewish cultural identity, while Milinkovic was raised Orthodox Christian.
“We thought that because we were two people who ran bars in Pittsburgh, maybe we should collaborate together and bring a little unity between the two religions,” said Milinkovic, noting that they wanted to be sure to emphasize both Christmas and Chanukah “since a lot of places in Pittsburgh do not cater to the Chanukah part of the holidays.”
Half the proceeds of the pop-up will be donated to the congregations targeted in the massacre at the Tree of Life building last year and to East Liberty First Presbyterian Church, which does a lot of community outreach in East Liberty, according to Milinkovic.
“We know there are a lot of pop-up bars in the city that donate a portion of their proceeds, but we wanted to keep it as local as possible so that it would be going directly back into the community we are working in,” said Milinkovic. The Galley Group, she added, is also working with local breweries and distilleries, “so that not only are we giving charity back to the local community, but we are also supporting local businesses.”
The interior space looks like a holiday-decorated playhouse for grown-ups, with sets evoking the home of the Gingermans: an old-school kitchen, dining room and a living room with a Christmas tree and a menorah. There is also a mock family room, where a projector continually plays holiday films on a screen, such as “Eight Crazy Nights,” “The Grinch” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
The holiday-themed cocktails include Peace, Love and Jewish Donuts, which tastes like a jelly donut and is concocted with egg whites, Boyd & Blair Vodka with lemon juice and strawberry jam, and topped by powdered sugar; Christmas Morning, comprised of bourbon and cereal-infused milk; and Man, Oh, Manischewitz, a Manischewitz-based sangria with a holiday flavor. The cocktail recipes were created by Zelinsky.
“Man, Oh, Manischewitz has been a long time on my bucket list,” he said of the crowd-pleaser. “And it is a lot better than I expected it to be. It’s delightful.”
Zelinsky also has been surprised by “how many people have been willing to roll the dice on my Chinese food-based cocktail.” That one is called Death Cab for Cohen and is a gin martini that incorporates duck sauce.
In addition to cocktails, locally brewed beer and non-alcoholic drinks are available.
Since its soft-opening on Nov. 20, Chrismukkah has already earned back almost all of its startup costs.
“I’m surprised by how many people have come in and are happy to see Chanukah-themed cocktails,” Zelinsky said. pjc
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at