The only thing as exciting as seeing all the holiday magic at Universal Studios Hollywood? Eating it. And drinking it. And taking photos of yourself eating and drinking it. And — OK you get it. The point is, the limited-time food and beverage offerings are huge parts of what makes the holiday season at Universal Studios Hollywood so unmissable. A sip of Peppermint Hot Cocoa and you’ll recover all your favorite holiday memories; a bite of the Whoville Spiral Croissant will transport you to Dr. Seuss’ joyous village.
Because at Universal, you don’t just get to meet the Grinch — you get to eat his face on a doughnut, too. And that’s the true meaning of Christmas, right? We sure think so.
We wanted to learn exactly how you take a beloved holiday character like the Grinch and turn him into drinks and snacks. So we caught up with Erick Massman, the creative mastermind behind the theme park’s beverage program. Erick gave us the backstory of this year’s yuletide concoctions.
Erick has a special place in his heart for the Grinch: it was the first movie his daughter ever saw in theaters. “She laughed her little head off,” he tells me. So when it came time to create a drink based on the lovable Seuss baddie — what became the Grinch’s Heart Lemonade — Erick’s heart grew three sizes.
But as a mixologist, the process presented an interesting challenge. You see, the Grinch isn’t just green. He’s Grinch green. You know it when you see it: it’s that yellow, almost neon green. It’s a specific hue. And when tasked with making a mocktail based on the iconic yuletide villain, Erick knew he had to nail that color.
So Erick began with green apple lemonade — a very Grinchy flavor indeed. It’s topped with three gummy hearts, for how many times the Grinch’s heart grows. Plus, the mocktail has an eye-catching addition: a red flashing ice cube, designed to resemble the Grinch’s heartbeat. It’s both fun and utilitarian — it helps bartenders differentiate between the mocktail and alcoholic drinks of a similar hue.
While Grinch green is undoubtedly a holiday color, many of the beverages focus more on holiday flavoring. Mrs. Claus’ Cinnamon Delight, however, accomplishes both. “You take a drink and you’re instantly taken to the holidays,” says Erick. But it also has this shimmery golden hue to really put you in the holiday spirit.
This crisp, refreshing drink is made with pear vodka, fire whiskey, maple syrup, apple juice and angostura bitters — that delightful golden color comes from the cinnamon whiskey and the maple syrup. The cocktail is topped with a dried cinnamon apple ring. In fact, you’ll notice all the holiday drinks have fun candy garnishes. While that makes them oh-so-Instagrammable, it’s not just for show. “We want the drink to present well,” says Erick, “But we want to make sure everything ties into the drink itself.”
You can find Mrs. Claus’ Cinnamon Delight at the Who-bilicious Treats Cart and the Plaza Coke Cart.
And speaking of garnishes, you’ll definitely want to bite into the little gingerbread man on top of the Make It Snappy Santa. This mocktail takes like the whole holiday season packed into one sip: it’s made of gingerbread syrup, lemon juice, pineapple puree and ginger ale, with a marshmallow and ginger snap rim. And that gingerbread man really looks like a cookie, doesn’t he? But don’t be fooled — that’s a gummy you’re looking at. You’ll just have to taste it to try. Find it at Who-bilicious Treats, Universal Tower Snack Bar and Hollywood and Dine.
That’s just a few of the holiday beverage offerings this year. Many more drinks — alcoholic and non-alcoholic, hot and cold— will be available for purchase all over the park. Those include Peppermint Hot Cocoa, Smores Hot Cocoa, the Sleigh Bells Irish Sour, Spiked Hot Cocoa, Hot Espresso Martini, Hot Apple Toddy, and more.
The holidays are about spending time with friends and family and getting in the spirit of giving. But it’s also about one very important thing: dessert. And Universal Studios Hollywood did not miss that message. The Grinchmas holiday offerings can be found all over the park, particularly in the quick-service carts around Production Plaza, the center of Grinchmas. Let’s take a look at a few of these ingenious treats:
First, there’s the 2 Sizes Too Small Cupcake. It’s a red velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting. The Seuss-inspired confection looks like the Grinch himself — cute, right? But take a bit and you’ll see…a cascade of sprinkles and a candy Grinch heart! In other words, make sure you eat this one over a plate. Things could get messy. You can find the 2 Sizes Too Small Cupcake at the Who-bilicious Treats Cart, Palace & Studio Cafe and Universal Tower Snack Bar.
And if messy is your thing, then you also won’t want to miss this treat.
The Dumpit to Crumpit treat is a spectacular knot of deliciousness. Named for Mount Crumpit (where the Grinch resides), this treat is made with Chex Mix, Fruity Pebbles, marshmallows, potato sticks, crushed peppermint candy and sprinkles, this confection will get you feeling as amped for Christmas as the inhabitants of Whoville.
That’s just a peek into the Grinchmas treats. Other desserts include the Gingerbread Whoopie Pie, the Who-bilicious Cinnamon Roll, the Apple Crumb Donut, the Spiral Croissants and lots of delightful cookies, to name a few. You can find them at various locations throughout the park, especially around Production Plaza.
And, wait — all your savory holiday cravings can be satisfied at Universal Studios Hollywood, too! The Slow-Roasted Turkey Sandwich is topped with cranberry aioli, arugula and provolone cheese. It’s like the perfect combination of Thanksgiving leftovers, but you can have it any day of the holiday season.
You can also find a variety of soups that’ll make you want to curl up by the fire. That includes Clam Chowder, Chili, and Butternut Squash Soup, all of which are served in bread bowls. You can find the sandwich at Palace & Studio Cafe, French Street Bistro, and Hollywood and Dine; the soups are on the menus at Mel’s Diner, City Snacks, Jurassic Cafe and Hollywood and Dine.
We didn’t mention everything here — we don’t want to spoil all the discovery for you. You’re just going to have to get to Universal Studios Hollywood and find all the holiday menu items for yourself!
That’s it for our look into the holiday food and beverage offerings at Universal Studios Hollywood. What are you most eager to get your hands on? Let us know in the comments below.