Imagine that, for a whole month, a bar transforms into a venerable winter wonderland—not just putting up a Christmas tree and lights—but going the full Dickens. And along with this ambiance it rolls out a specialty cocktail menu with names like the Snowball Old Fashioned and Christmas Carol Barrel.
That’s Miracle, a Christmas-themed pop-up bar that launched in 2014 in New York City. Celebrating its five-year anniversary, Miracle has gone global with 80 locations spreading good cheer, while its tiki-focused companion pop-up Sippin’ Santa has grown as well.
So, if you haven’t seen what the buzz is about, there is still time to experience it. And lucky for you, we’ve done the heavy lifting.
Daiquiri Time Out
It’s a bit of a drive to Galveston but, heck, why not make a day of it? The space has been converted to an inviting living room with a tree next to a fireplace, and the cheerfulness brims throughout, with lights strung up on the ceiling, oversized ornaments, mini upside-down Christmas trees, and caricatures of Santa in a series of compromising positions.
But how are the drinks? My personal favorite was the Snowball Old Fashioned, consisting of butterscotch rye, spiced demerara, wormwood bitters, and orange zest. It reminded me of a sugary, icy raspa, but with booze. You can buy specialty glassware from the bar (and some of the other Miracle or Sippin’ Santa bars), with a portion of the proceeds going toward Action Against Hunger.
Julep looks like something that came out of a child’s imagination. Lights are strung everywhere, with stockings hung up behind the bar and a train set surrounding the scene, plus cottonballs to mimic a snowy frontier. Both Christmas music and non-holiday music play, keeping things relatively sane.
The festive cocktail menu is the same as at DTO, but you cannot purchase glassware. Of note, the cocktail And A Partridge in a Pear Tree smells like Christmas, straight up. Made of reposado tequila, pear brandy, mezcal, spiced demerara syrup, lime, egg white, club soda, angostura bitters, and cinnamon, this treat will sneak up on you.
Lei Low is doing Sippin’ Santa, and they’re doing it right. Cocktail personality Jeff “Beachbum” Berry created some specialty cocktails for the pop-up, such as the Kris Kringle Colada with dark Jamaican rum, Cynar, allspice, lime, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut. There’s also the title drink—Sippin’ Santa—with aged demerara rum, amaro, lemon juice, orange juice, and gingerbread mix.
The cocktails are amazing. Meanwhile, the music darts from vinyl exotica music to an exotica spin on traditional Christmas songs. The décor? Imagine Santa took a day off and plopped down in paradise. From an inflated hula-dancing Santa to the bulbous Christmas lights strung up behind the bar, it’s the perfect match of holiday spirit and Polynesian relaxation.
Sippin’ Santa will be featured at Lei Low until December 22, while the Miracle events at DTO and Julep are sticking around until the 31st.