If you want to really immerse yourself in the holiday spirit, you have to check out Rolf’s on the corner of 22nd and Madison. Sure, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I can promise you won’t be the only premature C.O.P (Christmas Obsessed Person) in the room. Or in my case, J.O.C.P (Jewish Obsessed Christmas Person) in the room.
This place takes the holidays to a whole new level, decorating the entire bar and restaurant from top to bottom in lights, ribbons and ornaments. I’ve never felt more cozy in a bar before and it wasn’t just because of the Spiked Warm Apple Cider.
If you were one of the people who contributed to the Starbucks red cup fiasco, this is not the place for you. Rolf’s lacks representation of everything other than Christmas inspired decor, but I can’t imagine anyone being mad about it. After all, the feel here is more festive than religious. But then again, I’m sure Starbucks had the same mentality regarding the color red. So Christmas haters, stay away. So far away, you can’t smell the cinnamon scented cocktails or bask in the warmth of the twinkly lights.
When you walk in you will immediately feel like you’ve been transported to the North Pole’s local pub. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Santa himself showed up for an eggnog.
The original owner, named Rolf, (no surprise there), started decorating like this for the holidays in 1968 and the new owner has kept the tradition alive ever since. Rolf’s atmosphere won’t be your only warm and fuzzy experience; their signature cocktails will also be sure to warm you from the inside out. I decided to change up my usual glass of red wine for a warmer version- Rolf’s Famous Warm Gluhwein, a sweet German wine garnished with a cinnamon stick (that you can’t see at the bottom of the glass). Let’s just say I drank every last drop and I’m now officially disappointed that other bars don’t typically offer it on their menus.
The energy of this entire place couldn’t have been more perfect. In addition to the magical atmosphere, the staff is super friendly and the people drinking by your side won’t hesitate to engage is casual bar banter. I will definitely be coming back in the near future to try out one or more of their signature German dishes and another glass of Warm Gluhwein.
Don’t be disappointed if you can’t make it here over the holidays. I mean you should be, but they also decorate just as aggressively for October Fest. So you have two seasons to see the magic and all of them to enjoy the Schnitzel.