Salt Lake City gets its first Miracle pop-up bar filled with Christmas kitsch and holiday cocktails

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Justin Buck, with Modern Display, creates a holiday-themed reflection for Instagram and social media selfies inside the Hotel Monaco. The display is part of The Miracle Bar, a Christmas-themed pop-up with holiday drinks and decorations.

Salt Lake City is about to get a miracle.

Actually, Utah’s capital is one of 90 sites around the globe that will host the Miracle Bar — a Christmas-themed pop-up with kitschy décor and holiday cocktails. It opens Friday and runs through Dec. 31 at the Hotel Monaco, 15 W. 200 South.

For the monthlong run, the downtown hotel has transformed its Vault Bar into a gift-wrapped lounge with twinkling lights, wintry scenes and a 12-foot nutcracker geared for the Instagram and selfie crowd.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Christmas-themed suite on the 15th floor of the Hotel Monaco is decorated with lights, Christmas stockings and a tree. It's being offered in conjunction with The Miracle Bar.

Employees at the bar — temporarily renamed Miracle on Second Street — will dress in red and green and spread Christmas cocktail cheer.

Billed as “the best office party you’ve ever been to,” Miracle launched in 2014, when its New York owner Greg Boehm was working on his new bar in the East Village.

His mother — probably hoping her son could pocket extra cash for the holidays — suggested he stop construction, decorate the unfinished space for Christmas and serve winter cocktails.

Mom clearly knows best. Crowds swarmed the pop-up bar and friends persuaded Boehm to re-create the holiday magic in other cities. The next year, Miracle expanded to four locations and, in 2016, it went worldwide with pop-ups in Greece, Montreal and Paris.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tommy Girrbach, the food and beverage manager at the Hotel Monaco, transforms the bar into a Christmas–themed pop-up with holiday drinks and decorations, including a 12-foot nutcracker.

This is the first time Utahns can experiences the spectacle, said Tommy Girrbach, general manager of Bambara, the restaurant inside the hotel. “It’s a huge undertaking, and we’re excited to see how the community reacts to it.”

December already is a busy month for the Hotel Monaco. It’s a popular stop for those traveling downtown to see the Christmas lights on Temple Square or enjoy performances of “The Nutcracker” at the Capitol Theatre across the street.

While those events may be geared toward older and younger patrons, Girrbach believes Miracle Bar’s casual atmosphere offers something for 20- and 30-somethings, although everyone from millennials to baby boomers can enjoy the cocktail culture.

Guests can sip a variety of cleverly named cocktails served in cheeky barware — think Santa mugs and shot glasses — such as the Snowball Old Fashioned, made with gingerbread bourbon, bitters and lemon zest; as well as And a Partridge in a Pear Tree with tequila, pear brandy and spiced syrup.

(Courtesy photo) The Miracle Bar is a Christmas-themed pop-up with kitschy décor and holiday cocktails, like the "And a Partridge in a Pear Tree" made with tequila, pear brandy and spiced syrup.

All 90 Miracle Bar pop-ups will have the same cocktails made with premium liquors, so expect to pay a bit more. Shots are $6; cocktails range from $15 to $18.

Girrbach said the bartenders did have to tweak the national recipes to fit state law. In Utah, cocktails can contain up to 1.5 ounces of a primary liquor (think gin, vodka or tequila), but bartenders can add secondary alcohols as long as the beverage doesn’t exceed 2.5 total ounces of spirits.

Guests also can order appetizers and entrées off the Bambara menu, like the signature blue cheese house-cut potato chips ($8) or — if they really want a holiday splurge — the seared loin of elk for $45.

To complement the Miracle Bar, the Hotel Monaco also has created a Christmas-themed suite on its 15th floor. It is decked for the holidays with lights, Christmas stockings and a tree with homey ornaments. Guests can watch holiday movies, listen to holiday music and indulge in a tray of holiday cookies and hot cocoa each evening.

“It’s the nicest suite in the hotel,” said hotel General Manager Ric Tanner. “We’ve had quite a few notable guests stay in this room, including actors, musicians and political types.” Sorry, he’s not naming names.

Tanner said guests who stay in the suite also will receive an express pass that allows them to bypass the wait lines expected at Miracle.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Christmas-themed suite on the 15th floor of the Hotel Monaco is decorated with lights and a tree.