Whoville pop-up bar brings ‘The Grinch’ to Oakland


Punya Bhasin | Contributing Editor

Whoville: A Grinch-Themed Pop-up Bar at the Hilton Garden Inn on Forbes on Saturday.

By Punya Bhasin, Contributing Editor

With shiny ornaments and glistening snowflakes, the holidays are in Oakland and the Whoville pop-up bar is providing some Christmas spirits — literally. 

The Whoville pop-up bar, located in the Hilton Garden Inn on University Place, opened its doors on Friday to the public and with it lots of holiday cheers. “Whoville” refers to the setting of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” where the Grinch — a fictional character who hates Christmas — tries to steal the Christmas spirit from the residents of Whoville. The pop-up bar features curated Grinch-themed drinks in addition to Grinch-themed food as well. The pop-up event will last through Dec. 23. 

The drink menu features cocktails, seasonal brews and “who shooters.” All of the drinks follow a creative name and flavor profile that aligns with the Grinch and holiday theme. Drinks include “The Grinch,” “Mayor Maywho Christmas Manhattan,” “Cuddly as a Cactus,” “Cheermeister Punch,” “Sweet as Cindy Lou Who,” “Charming as an Eel,” “Martha May-Tini,” “Max’s Mule” and “Bad Banana.”

One of the popular drinks, “The Grinch,” which the pop-up menu describes the taste as “green and tart like the Grinch himself,” consists of a melon martini with a cherry vodka heart. 

Another fan favorite is the “Sweet as Cindy Lou Who,”’ which the menu describes as “sweet as a cookie and just boozy enough to warm even the coldest of hearts.” It features Irish cream, butterscotch and cinnamon whiskey. 

Mark Miller, the director of food and beverages at Hilton Garden Inn, said he tried to amplify the traditional holiday flavors while still keeping it “fun.” 

“We wanted to really sort of encompass all of the best flavors from the holidays, so we have things that are sweet, as well as a little bit more sophisticated,” Miller said. 

Dawn Greygor, the Hilton Garden Inn sales manager, said this is the second time the Hilton Garden Inn has hosted the pop-up, with the last time occurring in 2019 before the pandemic.  

“So this is the first year that we were able to bring it back to life since the pandemic,” Greygor said. “We had so much fun the last time that we decided we should do it again.”

The pop-up bar also provides a variety of food options coined a “Who-Feast,” which features “Grinch Fingers,” “Who-Hash” and “Buffa-Lou-Who Wings.”

Miller said he highly recommends the Mt. Crumpit Meatloaf featuring Kobe beef and said attendees can look forward to a variety of holiday flavors. 

“We really wanted to focus on … we take our food seriously but that doesn’t mean it has to be serious,” Miller said. “We wanted to find something that was going to be fun and enjoyable but also delicious.” 

Jill Curry, the general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, said the decoration ideas 一 which include the wrapping paper tablecloths, snowflake streamers, Grinch signs and ornaments 一 are a team effort with a strong emphasis on staying true to the “Grinch” theme. 

“It’s a collaboration of people coming together being as creative as we can,” Curry said. “We watched and rewatched the movie, playing on the words looking at a wall and saying, ‘It’s too empty,’ and then going to the store and finding something that fits.”

Helena Kraniou, the director of sales and marketing at Hilton Garden Inn, said the room is divided into two sections with one of the sections embodying the Grinch’s lair. 

“So when you come in you’ll notice the lair theme, and the Grinch has spaces on the wall where on the TVs, the Grinch is blinking, and it’s to emulate a cave with windows and Mount Crumpit in the corner and if you look real close, we’ve got Max the dog and the Grinch at the very top,” Kraniou said. 

Kraniou said the other side of the room matches the Christmas cheer of Whoville, filled with wrapping paper tablecloths, colorful lights and glittery snowflakes. 

“So there is that side of the bar and when you go to the other end, we tried to do the complete opposite of the Grinch’s lair with bright colors, pastel wrapping paper and family pictures of the Whos,” Kraniou said. 

Curry said she hopes college students stop by to enjoy the food and drinks as well as take advantage of the holiday decorations for a fun Grinch-themed social media post. 

“It’s convenient, it’s fun, energetic and it’s overall a good vibe,” Curry said.