Each year, holiday lights, cocktails, decorations, music and ugly sweaters take over bars across the country at Miracle Bar and Sippin’ Santa pop-up events. The holiday pop-ups started in New York City in 2014. Since then, the concept has exploded and Miracle Bars can be found in cities around the world.
This year the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has resulted in restrictions and regulations on restaurants and bars that put the viability of the pop-up events in question.
But fans of drinks like Jingle Balls Nog, the Fruitcake Flip and Christmapolitan may be happy to hear that despite the challenges of 2020, Miracle Bar and Sippin’ Santa are happening.
In metro Phoenix, two downtown Phoenix bars will host Christmas-themed pop up events for the 2020 holiday season.
The Hilton Garden Inn’s rooftop bar Floor 13 will shine bright this holiday season and Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, which recently reopened its doors to the public in October, will take a tropical turn for the holidays with the Sippin’ Santa tiki pop up.
Miracle bar at Floor 13 opens on Nov. 18 and Sippin’ Santa at Bitter & Twisted starts on Nov. 24.
Here’s what you need to know about holiday pop up bars in the age of COVID-19.
What safety precautions are the pop-up bars taking?
Rules regarding bars’ ability to open and at what occupancy vary around the country. But in Arizona bars that serve food and can function like restaurants may be open at less than 50% capacity, according to Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Both Bitter & Twisted and Floor 13 serve food and therefore meet this requirement.
Both bars are also making efforts to helpmitigate the risks of coronavirus transmission. Floor 13 is a rooftop bar and 90% of the space is outdoors, Director of Sales Angie Horney says. At Bitter & Twisted, owner Ross Simon installed what he describes as “Pentagon-grade” air scrubbers that work to clean the air inside the bar.
Masks are required at both Bitter & Twisted and Floor 13 and will continue to be throughout the holiday pop ups.
The elevator used to get to Floor 13 has stickers inside directing people where to stand when riding to the roof, Horney says.
Arizona’s numbers of coronavirus cases and resulting deaths have been increasing again this fall. As of Nov. 16, the numbers of new cases have been more than 1,000 for 17 of the past 20 days with seven days totaling at more than 2,000 new cases. Spending time among other people at a bar or otherwise presents risks this holiday season.
Here’s why the pop-up moved to Floor 13
Previously, Miracle Bar popped up at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails inside the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, a few blocks south of Floor 13. But this year, Miracle is moving to Monroe Street and trading cozy booths for fresh air and city views.
In the age of coronavirus, experts have repeated recommendations that eating and drinking outside is a safer option,something Horney says worked in their favor.
Floor 13 also hosted a Halloween celebration that had “huge turnout,” Horney says.To handle the crowd with the limited capacity, the bar used a text wait list, which Horney expects they’ll use again with Miracle Bar.
Holiday revelers should note most of the Christmas decorations aside from lights and wreaths will be inside the small indoor portion of the bar in case of wind or weather on the rooftop. But Christmas sweater-clad servers will bring cups of holiday cheer out to the deck.
When Floor 13 initially opened, it was a sun deck for hotel guests only. Last year, it began welcoming the public and now, Horney hopes that Miracle Bar will bring more people up to see the views.
“It’s really exciting for Floor 13 to have it’s shining moment,” she says, explaining that she hopes this will be the start of a new tradition.
“It’s all new to us so we have to see how it works,” she says. “But we 100% want to have it next year.”
What’s on the Miracle Bar and Sippin’ Santa menus?
At Miracle Bar and Sippin’ Santa locations around the world, the menu is the same each year and local bartenders at each pop up learn how to make the cocktails.
Each cocktail at Miracle Bar sells for $16 and this year’s cocktail menu includes:
- Jolly Koala made with gin, vermouth and pine-cardamom-sage cordial.
- Snowball Old Fashioned made with rye, gingerbread and orange essence.
- Christmas Carol Barrel made with tequila, coffee liqueur and spiced chocolate.
- Bad Santa served hot and made with mulled wine, port, orange liqueur and Christmas spices.
Naughty, Nice and Miracle shots of rum, bourbon and rye respectively mixed with a variety of spices are also available for $8.
Light food options provided by Floor 13 include hummus, firecracker shrimp, chicken wings and a pepperoni flatbread.
Miracle Bar at Floor 13 will work on a first come, first served basis with a maximum of 40 guests at a time, Horney says. Customers can add their name to a wait list upon arrival.
For Sippin’ Santa at Bitter & Twisted, the menu blends traditional holiday flavors with tiki tastes and each cocktail is $13. Customers must make a reservation online at bitterandtwistedaz.com.
The Sippin’ Santa menu includes:
- North Pole Punch: Served in a red tiki glass, this cocktail is made with bourbon, a mixture of rums, creme de banana, maple and cinnamon syrup.
- The Brah Humbug is served hot and made with Scotch, Drambuie and mulled wine syrup.
- The Parrot in a Pear Tree made with tequila, pear liqueur and apple brandy.
The Sippin’ Santa menu includes one $7 shot that includes pineapple and overproof rum with coffee liqueur.
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