’Tis the season of holiday music and ugly sweaters, and one popular Midtown haunt is getting in the spirit in a big way.
Selected to host a Miracle pop-up bar, the Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar underwent a makeover for this Christmas season, complete with decor, music and a drink menu meant to evoke Christmas nostalgia.
More than 50 bars worldwide are becoming Miracle bars this holiday season, including Athens, Hong Kong and cities throughout the U.S. Each location is hand-picked by the Miracle team, headed by Greg Boehm. The concept began in 2014 when Boehm experimented with a New York City establishment he’d just purchased by turning it into a Christmas bar for the month of December.
At Red Rabbit, 2718 J St., the month-long Christmas party started Sunday and is only going to get better, said Matt Nurge, one of Red Rabbit’s owners.
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“It’s one thing to say ‘we’re having a month-long Christmas party,’ ” Nurge said, but it takes a certain spirit to make a Christmas party truly great.
“It’s more of a feeling, I guess, and people really brought that along with them,” he said. “It was a joyous celebration.”
The bar’s interior was redone as a Christmas wonderland with a modern feel, with appearances from Christmas characters such as Santa Claus and elves.
Starting at 3 p.m., the restaurant is serving a truncated dinner menu, paired with Miracle’s signature cocktails, like the Snowball Old Fashioned with gingerbread bourbon and the Jingle Ball Nog, which features cognac, sherry and peanut butter, among other ingredients. The cocktail menu is printed on Christmas cards and served in signature glassware, such as Santa Claus heads.
“I think fans of the Red Rabbit will be surprised because of the decor, and everyone will be wearing ugly sweaters,” Nurge said. “Miracle has kind of their own following – they have fervent fans who drive miles and miles to find one.”
Boehm said Red Rabbit came on the radar due to the name’s similarity to the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York City.
Miracle team member Joann Spiegel used to work at the Dead Rabbit, and patrons would ask her if there was any connection between the establishments. There wasn’t, but when Miracle was looking for partners for the 2017 Christmas season, Red Rabbit came to mind.
“The cocktails are pretty intense,” Boehm said. “We have to make sure there’s someone on that side who can manage the cocktails.”
Miracle started in New York City in 2014 shortly after Boehm purchased a bar in the East Village. He was planning to keep it closed through December for an interior remodel, but his mother convinced him to open a Christmas-themed bar for a month instead.
It took off.
“We weren’t even ready for it,” Boehm said. “The success combined with the stress was one of the reasons we started doing this with other people ... we prepare them for what’s coming next.”
He said he works every day from Nov. 24 through Dec. 24 flying around to various cities to help bars with their pop-ups, but the smiles and enjoyment of the patrons keeps his energy up for the month.
“(Miracle) really ends up being an experience,” he said. “The mood of the place ends up being a Christmas experience more than decor.”