As I sat in a room with plastic doughnuts hanging from the ceiling and a giant gingerbread man on the wall, I found myself craving sweets.
“I thought you guys were serving fresh-baked cookies,” I said to one of the bartenders at Miracle on Seventh Street, a Christmas-themed pop-up bar in Shaw. “No cookies tonight,” the bartender said, “but we do have a cookie dough drink.” That’s how I ended up tasting a $14 cocktail called Snow Angels, Ice Skating, Cookie Dough and Snuggles, which is made with cookie dough-infused vodka and garnished with an actual blob of cookie dough.
“This bar is a ‘one-and-done’ kind of situation,” observed a sensible woman sitting next to me. “Why?” I asked. “The drinks are really expensive and really sweet,” she said. Four drinks and one roaring headache later, I regretted not taking her advice.
Miracle on Seventh Street — which is back for its third year and will stay open through Dec. 31 — consists of five densely decorated, Instagram-friendly rooms where you can get pricey cocktails in novelty glassware. The pop-up debuted in 2015 in a space formerly occupied by a sherry bar. It turned out to be much more popular than its predecessor, attracting throngs of people willing to wait for hours just to get inside. Over the past year, the owners have used the space for a series of bars with seasonal and pop culture themes.
I finally got around to visiting the place last Friday. My friend Dave and I met outside the bar at 7:30 p.m. with our pockets full of hand warmers, ready for an epic wait. In less than 10 minutes, we were inside and seated comfortably at one of the space’s four bars. “That wasn’t bad at all,” Dave said.
The first room we entered immediately impressed us with its creative decor. An homage to the venerable Jewish tradition of Chinese food and a movie on Christmas Eve, the room is wallpapered with movie posters and Chinese restaurant menus. Another room is dominated by an antique sleigh that you can sit in, plus a mural of Beyonce in a Santa hat, her middle fingers extended in a double bird, with the caption “I sleigh all day.” There are also more traditionally decorated rooms, dripping with red and green Christmas balls and thickets of twinkling lights.
If only the drinks were as good as the decor. The first one I tried, Elf’s Breakfast, involves a complicated formula of Earl Grey tea, maple syrup and four types of alcohol. The bartender took a break from dancing to DMX’s version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to ask me whether I was enjoying my drink. He looked so jolly, I just couldn’t tell him the truth.
“It’s great!” I lied.
In reality, my Elf’s Breakfast tasted exactly like a drink I made by accident last Christmas, when I dropped a candy cane into a cup of watered-down vodka and left it out overnight. The next morning, I drank that minty mess and claimed it counted as brushing my teeth. (Don’t judge. I have my way of dealing with holiday stress, and you have yours.)
I asked the bartender if I could try something that wasn’t quite so sweet, and he suggested a rum-based drink called Maccabeats by Dreidel. That one tasted like diluted, slightly alcoholic apple juice. Later, I tried a scotch-based concoction garnished with gumdrops. I took one sip of the foul-tasting liquid before pawning it off on Dave.
“The gumdrops are, by far, the best part of this drink,” he said after a sip.
It was time to give up on the cocktails, so I went in search of photo backdrops. Thanks to an impromptu consultation with a roving band of selfie experts — which is to say, millennials — I ended up with a fantastic photo of myself in the sleigh.
“This will be perfect for my Christmas card,” I said, as if the 20-somethings had any idea what I was talking about.
Another thing I liked about Miracle on Seventh Street is that the whole place is already infused with holiday spirit. There we were, just one day into December, and the bouncers were merry, the bartenders were helpful, and strangers were chatting with each other like it was no big deal. If the line stays reasonably short, this Christmas bar is well worth a visit — though you might want to skip the cocktails and get a regular hot chocolate instead ($7).
Before I left, a woman in a Rudolph sweater asked me to take her picture in front of the Beyonce mural. She scowled and extended both her middle fingers in imitation of Queen Bey’s pose.
“Are you having a good time?” I asked. She broke out into a bright smile.
“This is all I ever wanted as a kid — plus alcohol,” she said.
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