Getting “merry and bright” in Jersey should be a little easier this year. Many bars will add holiday decorations, even a few special cocktails. Then there are places like these, where holiday décor and drink proportions/serving style are unabashedly festive. Not only do we have the return—and expansion—of the “Miracle” pop-up to a handful of bars and restaurants, with special touches from place to place. But we’re also just as happy to see the return of “Sleighs n’ Leis” at Cellar 335 in Jersey City, where the elements of Christmas kitsch are only outpaced by the ingredients in gorgeously complex holiday tiki drinks.
Here’s a short list of holiday pop-up bars in NJ to get you started.
New Jersey’s Miracle Bars:
The “Miracle” in question is a concept that grew out of a Christmas pop-up cocktail bar called Miracle in the East Village in 2014. Just five years later, the idea has spread across state and country lines, with tinseled-out, seasonal cocktail slinging bar and restaurants from Asia to Montreal to New Jersey. Among the drinks this year are the SanTaRex (served in a T-Rex mug, of course), a Kris Kringle Colada, and a shareable large-format Jingle Bowl rum punch. It’s kitsch and cocktails, so Jersey, naturally, has more than a few willing participants. Except for Iron Bar in Morristown, they’re all going jolly from November 25 through December 31. And everywhere there’s a Miracle, 10 percent of all sales are donated to Action Against Hunger.
Miracle on Centre
Cowan’s Public in Nutley is joining the Mircale Pop-up for the second year in a row, surrendering its typically sleek, relaxed to over-the-top jolly look and drinks like the “Run Run, Rudolph” (which is, per a friend who recently drank one, made with gin). If you want to check out Cowan’s and make a day of it, they’re a stop on the Sleigh Ride on December 7 (which departs from the Barrow House at 1pm and hits the Vanguard, too—see below). Cowan’s Public, 229 Centre Street, Nutley; 973-542-8151
Miracle on South Street
The Iron Bar in Morristown opened their Miracle Bar on December 3, but they’re kicking into high gear with an Ugly Sweater Party this Saturday night. Less a cozy spot for a seasonal sip and more of a party scene, with two floors and lots of music. Iron Bar, 5 South Street, Morristown; 973-455-7111
Miracle on Mercer
Franklin Social is a new Jersey City cocktail bar concept from the same people who bring you Cowan’s Public, the Vanguard, and the Barrow House. The actual bar is slated to open officially in January of 2020, and while they had a “Miracle on Mercer” Miracle Pop-Up Bar planned for November 25 through December 31, so far it seems like the miracle itself might be delayed. Chances are they’ll update their Instagram as soon as the sleigh bells are ringing and drinks are pouring. Franklin Social, 292 Barrow Street, Jersey City
Miracle at Catherine Lombardi
Catherine Lombardi started has been bringing the Miracle vibe to New Brunswick since November 25 and it’ll keep running all the way through to December 31 (not a bad time to check out the pop-up, since you’re also in a great spot to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks). Catherine Lombardi, 3 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick; 732-296-9463
The Vanguard in Harrison is doing what it calls “Sippin’ Santa, a Holiday-Themed Tiki Pop-Up” until December 31. It’s produced by the company started by tiki prophet Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, so drinks will likely be solid (witness recent Instagram post of the Shaka Kalikimaka, a gin-based tiki drink with allspice, Cognac, cranberry, and a bunch of other good things). The Vanguard, 705 Frank E Rodgers Boulevard South, Harrison; 201-292-3633
Sleighs ‘n Leighs
Completely unassociated with the Miracle Pop-Ups, and in fact its very own thing started by chef Jamie Knott and his Director of Operations “Tiki Pete” Arnone just last year, Cellar 335 brought back it’s “Sleighs ‘n Leighs” bar takeover for a second year, with its own riffs on tiki culture and Christmas kitsch (and their somehow incredibly delicious intersection in your cocktail glass). Cellar 335 staff did some impromptu neighborhood caroling to spread the word about their inaugural Sleighs n’ Leighs last year. We’re guessing singing wasn’t necessary this year (though that doesn’t mean some caroling won’t happen once you get a drink or two in you.) The drink menu is packed, like an over-stuffed Santa sack: you’ll get anything from the super-popular tiki Pete’s Frozen Hot Chocolate to a rum- and brandy-spiked “Parrot in a Pear Tree” to something seriously formidable called the “Ghost of Christmas Past,” with rum, tropical fruit, bitters, cinnamon, and absinthe (no doubt drinking more than one of those leads to intense reflection on the mistakes of your past.) Cellar 335, 335 Newark Avenue, Jersey City; 201-222-1422Click here to leave a comment