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Celebrate the Holidays with an Allegheny River Bar Crawl

Expecting visitors this holiday season? We have you covered with a crawl that includes karaoke, wine, beer and history.

photos by cory morton

During the holidays, bars welcome weary travelers seeking a relaxing drink after a long trip, old friends reuniting over beers during the long winter evenings and any number of different kinds of people looking to escape the family pressures of visiting with relatives. For those returning to Pittsburgh for the season, there will be plenty of holiday cheer to be found in the city’s bars. Here are a few of the places out-of-towners can pull up a stool for an entertaining holiday bar crawl along a stretch near the Allegheny River.

If you’re looking for Christmas cheer and a bar that looks like it was decorated by St. Nick himself, start at Bob’s Garage in Blawnox. Bob’s zeal for decorating for holidays is a year-round draw, but Christmastime is by far the most over the top. The square bar is a place where $5 can go farther than most and the atmosphere is cozy and warm. Round up family and friends for their karaoke nights which run Wednesday through Saturday for some potentially embarrassing fun.

After finding success in Mount Lebanon, Hitchhiker Brewing Co. opened a second location in Sharpsburg in the fall of 2017. The new space is cavernous but manages to still be welcoming with a friendly bar staff and pleasant yeasty smell of brewing beer. Lots of seating and quality beers that span multiple styles make this a great place to bring large groups out for holiday cheers-ing. Tours of the brewery are offered on Saturdays and the kitchen turns out adult and kid-friendly snacks like hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches from local ice cream makers, Leona’s Ice Cream sandwiches.


Nied’s Hotel Bar and Restaurant on Butler Street in Lawrenceville is a classic Pittsburgh dive that’s been welcoming patrons since 1941. The employees decorate for the holidays so you can drink your Yuengling bathed in the glow of red and green lights. With a still distinctly blue-collar vibe, Jimmy Nied’s family-run bar claims to have the best fish sandwich in Pittsburgh as well as frequent live music and old-school hospitality. Nied’s doesn’t charge a cover, so enjoy the tunes for the price of a beer.

Allegheny Wine Mixer, located about a block from Nied's, is named in homage to the Catalina Wine Mixer in the 2008 Will Ferrell comedy "Step Brothers," but don’t expect any family drama to follow you here. Tucked into a Lawrenceville rowhouse, this wine bar offers an intimate space to catch up over a stellar wine list. Each season, AWM chooses a different region to pull  their wine selections from; for the holiday season, expect to see the tail end of the bar’s journey to South Africa and then dive straight into a multi-country mini focus on some of the best sparkling wine around the world. The holidays are, after all, a time for some extra sparkle. Snack on gourmet chocolate or fine cheeses. If you’re lucky you might even get to sip some traditional eggnog or wassail whipped up by bartender Sean Rosenkrans. Although traditionally closed on Mondays, AWM will be open for New Year’s Eve.

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