When holiday bars Miracle and Sippin Santa return to Atlanta next month, the kitschy cocktail pop-ups will include two new locations, an emphasis on outdoor seating, and a new set of rules for patrons to follow during the pandemic. All four Atlanta locations are expected to open the week before Thanksgiving.
This year sees Miracle departing its longtime home base at Tapa Tapa in Midtown, otherwise known as Miracle on Monroe. The pop-up returns for another round of Christmas kitsch and cocktails at Inman Park restaurant The Brasserie and Neighborhood Café at Parish on North Highland Avenue and at its brand new Atlanta Dairies location, Wonderkid on Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown. Miracle’s tiki-themed counterpart Sippin’ Santa takes over Midtown Viet-Cajun restaurant Bon Ton again, and pops up for the first time at Golden Eagle, just east of Miracle at Wonderkid.
The health crisis caused Big Citizen restaurant group co-founder Eric Simpkins to totally rethink how Miracle operates this year. Simpkins and business partner Darren Carr delayed opening the dining rooms for seating at Wonderkid, Bon Ton, and The Lawrence until summer. Despite the ability to open at full capacity, seating remains limited at all three, with Simpkins and Carr placing greater emphasis on the patios and takeout.
The move away from Miracle on Monroe, the holiday bar’s home base for the last four years, simply came down to lack of space and no outdoor seating. Tapa Tapa’s relatively low ceilings and cramped quarters make it difficult to keep air flowing naturally throughout the dining room and bar.
“Wonderkid will be both inside and out, and we will have limited capacity, with distancing, protective barriers, and more emphasis on reservations and other timing methods to reduce line formations,” Simpkins says of the pandemic precautions they plan to take at the Memorial Drive location.
Expect similar precautions and more outside seating options at Parish, Bon Ton, and Golden Eagle, including crowd-control measures like reservations with a two-hour time limit. Patrons of the pop-ups must wear masks when speaking to servers and bartenders or when not seated at a table. A 20-percent service charge will be added to each check.
“We are prepared to remove anyone for unsafe behavior.”
In addition to Wonderkid’s patio, Atlanta Dairies is allowing Miracle to create a sort of “Christmas district” in the Yard — the property’s greenspace adjacent soon-to-open brewery Three Taverns Imaginarium. Miracle at Wonderkid will also take advantage of the open-container policy at Atlanta Dairies by offering to-go cocktails.
Logistics for Miracle on Highland are still in the works. Simpkins hopes to utilize the entire space at Parish to provide more social distancing. This includes the restaurant’s downstairs cafe and grassy area out back along the Eastside Beltline trail, complete with fire pits and blankets.
Unlike Miracle on Highland and Miracle at Wonderkid, Sippin Santa at Bon Ton and Golden Eagle will operate during those restaurants’ regular hours. Tiki-themed holiday cocktails replace the traditional drinks menu at Bon Ton for lunch and dinner inside and on the parking lot patio and are available during dinner service in the dining room and the Beltline-facing patio at Golden Eagle.
While the final cocktail list for Miracle has yet to be released, the pop-up’s most popular drinks, like the Snowball Old Fashioned, a rum cocktail ode to “Die Hard” called Yippie Ki Yay Mother F****r!, and a yuletide take on the Moscow mule, are likely back on the menu. Cocktails come served in Santa mugs, holiday highballs, and rocks glasses adorned with reindeers.
For now, Simpkins is keeping a close eye on the state’s daily COVID-19 case numbers. He’s fully prepared to pull the plug on Miracle if Atlanta begins experiencing a spike in cases or people patronizing the pop-ups do not seem to be taking the health crisis seriously.
“Every step of the way we’ve been planning Miracle this year, we’ve kept our staff in mind and in the loop on what’s going on, and ask how they’re feeling,” says Simpkins. “I think we’re all hoping for a mild winter to keep Miracle outside as much as possible and to prolong patio season. If we can eke out a few more weeks of outdoor dining, that and Miracle may just be enough to sustain us through the winter.”
Miracle at Wonderkid and Miracle on Highland are 21 and up.