By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 27, 2023 at 1:02 PM

Snuggle up with some holiday cheer as OnMilwaukee shares stories of everything merry and bright in the spirit of the season.

The OnMilwaukee Ho Ho Holiday Guide is brought to you by Educators Credit Union, Harley-Davidson Museum and MolsonCoors

Everyone knows the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear. But if there’s anything that comes even remotely close, it’s probably the “Elf”-themed holiday pop-up which will take place at Lost Whale, 2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Friday, Dec. 1 through Sunday, Dec. 31.

It is, after all, the 20th anniversary of the "Elf" movie, which has prompted a resurgence of love for Buddy the Elf and his madcap adventures in New York City. 

“I’ve watched the movie every year since the age of 13," notes Lost Whale General Manager Maria Westfall, who notes that the movie always re-enlivens her "love of candy and childhood happiness."

She says their goal is to make the 2023 Elf pop-up even more magical than ever with MORE candy, MORE cheer and – best of all – even MORE outrageous decor.

“We're really amping things up this year," she says. "The goal is to cover every single inch of the walls."


You can be assured that the stars atop the Christmas trees are the direct result of running and leaping off of couches. And the snowflakes that hang from the ceiling were all meticulously hand-cut from real paper and hung in the dead of night while the mall the bar was closed.

Suffice it to say,  there will be holiday magic (and a whole lotta tinsel) everywhere, even in the decor that you might ordinarily overlook.

For instance, few people know that the portrait of Co-owner Trip Duval's "Great Uncle Charlie" (which hangs on the back wall) is really a portrait of Santa Claus (and not-at-all like the smelly imposter from the movie who spends his days sitting upon his throne of lies).

Santa at Lost WhaleX

No. In fact, this Santa leaves the comforts of the North Pole each year to spend the balmy months of June and July whale watching along the coast of Washington State.

New festive tipples!

Yes folks, there will be cocktails. And every one will make liberal use of at least one ingredient from each of the major food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup.

In fact, guests can look forward to at least three new drinks, including two zero-proof options.

The first is as mysterious as the whereabouts of Buddy's dad; but I can give you some information on the other two.

CANDY CANE FOREST (zero proof)
Using a liberal dose of Ritual NA Rum, this cocktail also features coconut milk infused with rare peppermint sticks freshly harvested from the fourth level of the Candy Cane Forest. It's topped off with a hint of rare chocolate bitters, an element that not only rounds out the flavor profile, but makes it oh-so-easy to treat every day like Christmas.

Everyone knows that the maximum cookie capacity of a VCR is just 10 cookies.  But you'll appreciate that they went a little overboard on this vodka-based sipper featuring cookie-dough infused Wheatley Vodka, ginger liqueur, brûléed pear syrup and a topping of gingerbread cookie crumbles. And just in case you were concerned: no gingerbread houses were harmed in the making of this cocktail.

Elf Classics

While new drinks have their charms, there's something oh-so comforting about an amazing standard. So, for all of you who've attended Lost Whale's Elf pop-ups in the past, there will also be a menu of favorite cocktails from the past.

Fortunately – much like "Elf" – they're worth revisiting again and again.

This riff on a mai thai is sure to get the holiday spirit running through your veins thanks to a bit of rum, some housemade chestnut orgeat, cream sherry and root beer bitters. Best of all, it will be served poured atop a big ole handmade snow ball.

Son of a nutcracker

Is there anything more festive than an arctic puffin? Maybe not. But a grasshopper might be easier to drink. Lost Whale’s will feature the usual players like brandy, creme de menthe, creme de cacao plus house coconut blend and orange bitters. And yes, it will come topped with housemade whipping cream. But that’s not all, you’ll also get a bonus fudge pop tart and candy cane as garnish.

Arctic PuffinX

Oh, well. You’ll probably also smell like meat and cheese after you enjoy this quaff made with Old Forester 100 proof bourbon, Wisconsin maple demerara syrup, trinity and blackstrap bitters and a whiff of cedar smoke. After all, it’s served up with a festive garnish of a cheese curd and a Slim Jim.

You sit on a throne of liesX

Whether you're a cocktail nerd or not, you'll get a kick out of this spritely riff on the Spanish Calimocho, which features the Limited Edition Odyssea “Wintertide” Red Sangria. It's filled with warming spices like allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon, plus plenty of fruit from blood orange and cranberries. 

But that's not the best part.  It's also blended with (not quite a full liter of) Coca Cola and garnished with the best spaghetti on the planet (red rope licorice). 

Did you hear that? cocktailX

You’ll look so nice in your purpley holiday dress sipping on this warming tipple made with Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition Irish Whisky spiked with Stone Creek coffee and single bean origin hot cacao. It’s ultra creamy thanks to a bit of oat milk. And the chipotle cacao and cherry bark vanilla bitters offer complexity. It's literally overflowing with house-made whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles and mini marshmallows.

World's Greatest Cup of CoffeeX

If you think you should skip this round of holiday cheer, think again. Like cookie dough, it's made the old-fashioned way with real eggs before being spiked with house-made spiced rum, Spanish brandy and all the warming spices you’ve been craving. Best of all, it’s topped with gobs of red and green M&M’s. 


Everyone’s a member of the cotton-headed ninny muggins club when they sip on this creation. Gin meets fresh lemon juice and winter-spiced cranberry in this cocktail enhanced by Jamaican #1 bitters, Spanish Reserva Cava and a topping of cotton candy painstakingly harvested from the sea of twirly-swirly gumdrops.

Cotton Headed Ninny MugginsX

So put on your passionfruit spray, head over to Lost Whale and celebrate one of the greatest holiday films ever made by filling up on candy, candy corn, maple syrup and candy canes.

Just remember:  "Don’t eat the yellow snow."

The Lost Whale "Elf" pop-up takes place Dec. 1 through the end of the year. Hours are Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to bar close.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.