What to know about Miracle on 5th Street, the pop-up Christmas bar in Austin
Don’t get me wrong: Last year’s cozy little lockdown holiday was fine. I love my family, and Santa brought us two mice named Cookie and Baguette. The stockings were filled, and as I remember, we ordered an Easy Tiger charcuterie platter and enjoyed it in our backyard. We’d had our share of COVID-related scares, and after a fall of home-school and bad news, we were glad to be alive, eating pretzels and beer cheese.
But this is 2021. With vaccines available and Austin's hospital admissions rate as low as it's been in a while, we are ready to get out there. So when I read about Miracle on 5th Street, the Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar opening in downtown Austin, I pulled out my bright green holiday sweater and snowflake earrings.
Located at 307 W. Fifth St. inside the Eleanor event space, Miracle on 5th Street is the Austin iteration of a holiday experience that began in New York City’s East Village in 2014. This will be Austin’s fifth year of hosting the annual event. (Last year's Miracle on 5th Street was different than usual because of the pandemic — smaller capacity, seated guests and reservations available.)
I approached the red ropes on Fifth Street with a sense of excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time. I was downtown, going into a bar with other people. What exactly was a “multi-room, multi-level, over-the-top interactive Christmas pop-up experience”? I couldn’t wait to find out. I was greeted by a red-clad man with a big smile. He offered red face masks. (They are optional.) You cannot make a reservation for Miracle on 5th Street this year, and the lines can be long. On the website, miracleon5thst.com, you can purchase a “Dasher pass” to skip the line.
I paused as I entered to make use of the hand sanitizer (with a big sign reading “SANTA-tize your hands!”) and take in the décor.
All the décor (aside from the Miracle-branded items, such as the Cocktail Kingdom glassware, which is distributed to all Miracle pop-ups nationwide) is curated by the Eleanor and Roosevelt Room teams. This includes the mini ski lodge, which is unique to Miracle on 5th Street. The team goes in each November, a week or so before the pop-up opens, to fully transform the space.
There's a thrill to wandering through rooms of lights with friends, of posing in Santa’s chair or by one of the other photogenic wonders. Some of my favorite decorations included a wall of tinsel and lights, wrapped presents near the bar, vintage photos of mall Santas and multiple festive Christmas trees.
Suffice it to say: I had deleted Instagram from my phone to stop oversharing … but the snaps of my family and friends inside Miracle on 5th Street were so wonderful, I downloaded it one more time, just to share the holiday spirit — and my 18-year-old son’s red holiday suit. (He drank no-rum eggnog and tried every “nostalgic bite” on the menu, pronouncing the grilled cheese sandwich the best. We also loved the spiced nuts.)
Behind the main bar, a cheery staff in holiday garb twisted and shook, making cocktails like the Christmapolitan, the SanTaRex (in a dinosaur mug) and the Snowball Old Fashioned. The drink menu consists of eleven drinks and four shots, as well as beer, wine and soda. Most of the drinks come in amazing mugs and glasses, and all of the Miracle drinkware and merchandise is for sale.
Best of all, a portion of all to-go cocktail sales will be donated to the Austin Children’s Shelter (SAFE Alliance), Austin Pets Alive and the James Beard Foundation Open for Good Campaign, according to the Miracle organizers. Toy donations will also be accepted onsite for daily collection.
Is Miracle on 5th Street silly, simply a few rooms covered in lights and tinsel, a space filled with laughing people hoisting drinks with ridiculous names? Yup. That is correct. And right about now, in confusing but sunny 2021 Austin, I’ll take all the goofy, jolly, sitting-on-Santa’s-chair-and-smooching-my-husband joy I can get.
If you go
Miracle on 5th Street
When: Through Dec. 28
Where: The Eleanor, 307 W. 5th St.
Cost: Snacks from $6; holiday shots from $7; cocktails from $15.
More information: miracleon5thst.com