For many a hardened, city-dwelling grinch, holiday cheer is a nostalgic notion—that long-lost anticipation of presents waiting to be opened or the care poured into building a jolly snowman. But with Christmas lights thrown up even before Thanksgiving and the whole month of December devolving into one big shopping spree, it’s understandable that the season’s lost a bit of sparkle. Enter Miracle on Ninth Street, a second annual, through-December-24 takeover of Greg Boehm and Nico de Soto’s 30-seat East Village bar, Mace, brimming with liquid holiday fun.
ORDER THIS: Cocktails ($14) that upend seasonal clichés: off-season fig leaf and nuoc mam (pungent, Vietnamese fish sauce) are used as adroitly as gingerbread and pumpkin spice. De Soto tweaks Mace menu staples with festive results: A warm, clarified-milk Bad Santa riffs on the Pandan, soothing Trinidad overproof rum and Indonesian Batavia arrack with pineapple, coconut and eight-spice, while the Christmas Tree Gimlet swaps out a grass cordial used in the bar’s shochu-fortified Grass for a wintry pine-needle variety.
GOOD FOR: SantaCon-fatigued drinkers looking to class up the season with grown-up Christmas gaiety. At Miracle, you might have to queue up in the cold before warming up with a toasty mug, but it’ll be in good company at one of downtown’s finest watering holes, not stumbling through the streets with a horde of sloppy St. Nicks. Raucous Top 40 is swapped for velvety Christmas anthems (think mom-approved Michael Bublé), and the closest thing to a costume you’ll see is a chipper Santa hat perched on a bartender’s head.
THE CLINCHER: The space is fitted not only with plenty of Christmas nods—shelves strung with vintage cards, chairs enveloped in Santa-hat covers and ceiling rigged with gift-wrapped boxes—but also a menorah-crowned, blue-and-white Hanukkah Hideaway nook, perfect for cozying up to a chocolate-gelt-tequila Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel. Tucked away in this lavish snow globe of a pop-up bar, it’s hard not to feel like one of the chosen people, no matter which holiday you celebrate.