You, like me, probably have very high expectations for what a properly decked-out holiday-themed bar should look like.
It should be an all-out explosion of Christmas decorations, oozing with kitsch and unbridled joy, and clearly designed with merry (but precise) abandon. It should have twinkly lights all over the place, a regal tree in the corner and at least one jolly-looking Santa Claus — don’t you think?
Yes. Oh, yes.
That’s the magnificence you’re getting at Austin’s Miracle on 5th Street pop-up bar this holiday season, which set up shop in the Eleanor event space downtown the day after Thanksgiving and has gone full-bore on delivering us Christmas cheer through Dec. 31. The team behind the Eleanor, which also owns the Roosevelt Room cocktail bar next door, did not disappoint us with their decking-the-halls skills.
Rows upon rows of colored string lights hang along the ceiling amid carefully wrapped presents, poinsettias don nearly every table and the usual barware of copper mugs and delicate coupe glasses has been replaced by outlandish Santa-shaped cups in this boozy wonderland. A Christmas tree twinkles across the room from a large, fake Santa standing sentry near the door.
And on the ceiling — as one of my favorite decorations — is an old-school sleigh with reindeer, the kind that none other than Clark Griswold himself in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” displayed in his blindingly bright yard. (Griswold’s enthusiasm is on full display here at Miracle, without any of his endearing mishaps.)
Oh, and there’s Ralphie’s dad’s beloved leg lamp, too. That you can see from the street from its position in the front window. Just like the old man in “A Christmas Story” would’ve wanted.
The drinks hold up, too, as I found last night when I tried a few with a couple of friends.
One of the declared favorites is the Run Run Rudolph with Olmeca Altos Blanco Tequila, Borghetti Espresso Liqueur, iced hot chocolate, whipped cream, cinnamon and cacao powder, served in a Collins glass adorned with an image of Santa’s sleigh and eight reindeer. It’s a dangerous whipped cream-topped chocolaty confection. Dangerous because booze? What booze? You don’t taste it.
Another popular cocktail is the Yippie Ki Yay Mother F****r! with Appleton Estate Rum, Leblon Cachaça, Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum, purple yam-coconut orgeat, pineapple and mint. It’s just not because of the name that people continued to order it — the drink comes served in a mug shaped like Santa’s bottom half, with boots and belt and red suit. In a place where literally every surface is Instagram-friendly, that glassware is especially so.
One of Miracle on 5th Street’s many festive drinks is the Fa La La La La, La La La La with Hendrick’s Gin, Linie Aquavit, hazelnut liqueur, cardamom, vanilla, orange flower water, lemon, egg white and club soda.
Photo: Arianna Auber / American-Statesman
But beware one thing: Miracle is going to be busy. We showed up promptly at 6 p.m., when it opens daily, and the small line at the bar for drinks turned into a 15-minute wait by the time we’d gotten our first round. The wait got even longer at 7 p.m. And that was on a Monday. Chances are, it’s only going to get busier later on in the week.
That shouldn’t scare you off, though. The bar staff is working as efficiently as they can, and while you wait, they’re a joy to watch, a study in how a craft cocktail den can turn out complex drinks closer to the speed of a high-volume bar.
The bottom line is this: Miracle on 5th Street, at 307 W. Fifth St., is worth visiting at least once this month. I doubt even Scrooge would be able to keep the smile off his face at its unabashed Christmas cheer. Just keep in mind that it’s occasionally closed for private parties, and keep up with the schedule at facebook.com/miracleon5thst.