Three years after the first Miracle Christmas pop-up bar launched, the concept is spreading rapidly. It started with Miracle on 9th Street, which opened at Mace in 2014 in New York. It expanded to four locations around the country in 2015 and went global the following year, with pop-ups in Greece, Montreal and Paris.
This year, 50 locations in the U.S. and around the world care creating Miracles. The bars launched the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, to offer seasonally themed cocktails in a festive setting through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.
Miracle manager Joann Spiegel and bartender Nico de Soto of Mace and Danico created the roster of Christmas concoctions served at all Miracle locations, from favorites such as the Snowball Old Fashioned (Gingerbread bourbon, wormwood bitters, lemon zest) to newcomers including How The Gimlet Stole Christmas (gin, sage, pine and caraway cordial) and the Run Run Rudolph (blanco tequila, coffee liqueur, iced hot chocolate, Mexican spices).
All cocktails will be served in Cocktail Kingdom’s custom Miracle glassware, from mugs to coupes, highballs and rocks glasses. New in 2017, select locations will have this glassware available for purchase with 10% of all sales donated to Action Against Hunger.
Other holiday pop-ups in New York include Donner and Blitzen’s Reindeer Lounge, open Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, and “Sleyenda” from Latin cocktail bar Leyenda in Brooklyn, which weaves in a touch of Beyoncé into its holiday theme. (At the other end of the spectrum, anti-holiday pop-up bar Jingle Hell ’s temporarily took over The Skinny Bar & Lounge last week.)
The 65-seat speakeasy-inspired craft cocktail bar Westbound in Los Angeles is a Miracle pop-up participant this year. It’s transforming into a kitschy winter wonderland called Miracle on Santa Fe. The Westbound bar team created five original cocktails to complement the originals from the Miracle team.
Like all Miracle participants, Westbound decked the halls with lights, garlands, ribbons and tchotchkes inspired by nostalgic vintage Christmas decorations. Those celebrating Hanukkah won’t be left out, as Westbound is featuring a two-foot tall Menorah. Holiday festivities throughout the month will include visits from Santa and Manischewitz Punch Pong.
Every Miracle set up is different, says Westbound owner Sarah Meade. “It is about knowing your customers and staying true to your bar while getting into the crazy-over-the-top holiday spirit.” Unlike the majority of Miracle pop-ups, which will close on Christmas Eve, Westbound’s will continue until Jan. 1, 2018.
Any tips for those taking on a holiday pop-up bar? Simplify everything, Meade says. Batch ingredients and cocktails, and complete any prep work that can be done in advance. “Both your employees and customers will thank you,” she notes.