‘Tis the season for mistletoe, colorfully-wrapped presents and, as a new tradition has it, cocktails in Christmas-themed bars around the world. Perhaps you weren’t aware that your town had so many Christmas-themed bars — and for most of the year from New Year’s to Thanksgiving, it doesn’t — but chances are that Christmas cocktail bars are popping up all around you this time of year.
It all started in December of 2014 when, on advice from his mom, a New Yorker named Greg Boehm decided to dress up his new bar in Christmas cheer. He called it Miracle on 9th Street, and it was a smashing hit. Decked out in tinsel, sparkling lights and Santa hats, the bar served specialty holiday drinks to the background sounds of Christmas carols.
The next year, Boehm tried out the idea at another of his NY bars, as well as at a friend’s bar in Connecticut. Again, people lined up for Christmas cocktails served in kitschy glassware. Boehm and his team knew then that they were on to something good, and now the idea is branded everywhere as Miracle Pop-Up.
In addition to dressing up the bar in lights like a Christmas tree and serving up winter wonderland-themed drinks to scarved, sweatered and Ugg-booted customers, Miracle pop-up bars offer their popular glassware for sale at a discount. The idea is, you can go out for cocktails and come home with presents to give to you and yours.
Bars pay a flat-fee for Miracle’s services, which includes the mugs and other pieces of glittery and snow-flecked glassware. For the bars, the increased patronage easily covers their costs, and they benefit from all the ideas that have worked in the past, so it’s plug-and-play. They get recipes for cocktails, suggestions for decoration, a playlist of theme music, printed menus and artwork, marking assistance and online advertising.
As for the most important detail, the drinks, here’s a small sample of what’s on some of the menus.
- Gingerbread Flip: Bourbon, Gingerbread Syrup, Elemakule Tiki Bitters, Whole Egg, Nutmeg, Gingersnap Cookie Crumbs
- Bad Santa (Served Hot): Hot Milk Punch with Barbados Rum, Trinidad Overproof Rum, Batavia Arrack, Pineapple Juice, Lemon Juice, Almond Milk, 8 Spices, Coconut Water, Coconut Oil
- Snowball Old Fashioned: Butterscotch Rye, Spice Brown Sugar, Wormwood Bitters, Orange Zest
- And a Partridge in a Pear Tree: Reposado Tequila, Pear Brandy, Mezcal, Spiced Brown Sugar, Lime, Egg White, Club Soda, Angostura Bitters, Cinnamon
As you can tell, these drinks aren’t your average homemade spiked eggnog and hot buttered rum. The needed ingredients number to almost 150 items, which is quite a lot to stock. Not only that, but they take a bit of experience and talent to mix and serve in a tasty and attractive way. According to Paul Michaels, CEO of National Bartenders, “People may not realize that some of the more complex cocktails require the talents of chef making an entree.” Not only that but in the case of a Christmas pop-up bar, the bartenders need to learn a dozen new recipes by the time the Thanksgiving leftovers are in the fridge.