Beverage consultants and bartenders Spencer Warren and Carrie Clayton have a Christmas present for Pittsburgh. Although they’ve been busy building menus and training staff in bars around the city, when the opportunity came to pop-up a holiday bar for a month, they set to work. Miracle on Liberty opened on Nov. 25 to much fanfare. “We did $4,000 in sales on the first Saturday,” says Clayton.
The bar is part of a concept from the company Cocktail Kingdom, purveyor of industry-standard tools and barware. Two years ago, the company opened a pop-up Christmas bar in New York City. Last year, the Miracle concept expanded to a few other Northeastern states. This year, it’s gone international. Locations include Athens, Greece; Paris; and West Coast U.S. cities.
All the bars are named “Miracle” plus their location. All are Christmas-themed, although Miracle on Liberty adds a Hanukah Hideaway. Pittsburgh’s Miracle is unique because the space was previously empty. “The thing that pushed us through last week, when we were exhausted and sleeping in the office, was when we looked at the list of all the other places doing this, they all went to existing bars. We didn’t get keys to this space until about a week ago,” says Clayton.
Much of the space is donated. A friend, Sean Enright of the Carrick Lit Club, provided the animatronics. Half the decorations were donated by the Club, including ice wells and racks. Poros provided patio tables, and Warren and Clayton built much of the shelving themselves. Local bartenders also gave their time. “Without that happening, it would have been damn near impossible to get this place open in a week,” says Clayton. “We realized the only thing we could do was make it look like Christmas vomited everywhere. There have been guests who offered to bring stuff in and we’re like, ‘Here, I’ll give you thumb tacks. Go nuts.’”
Cocktail Kingdom requires every Miracle bar to buy glassware from the company at cost, and there is a universal menu that must be used, but there isn’t outright promotion of the brand. Individual establishments are allowed to feature specials in order to showcase their creativity. This week, look for Winter White Negronis. A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to a different charity every week.
If you’re looking for something non-alcoholic to drink, Clayton’s daughter Adeline Whitlock will be opening up a hot-chocolate stand and donating some of her proceeds to charity. Bar snacks will also appear in the form of Crockpot cocktail weenies, haluski and “pretty much the most Pittsburgh holiday foods you can think of,” says Clayton.
Warren and Clayton might decide to extend the hours for the week post-Christmas, but for now the bar is only open through Christmas Eve. Enjoy the good cheer and a stiff drink while you can.