There’s no stealing Christmas for local bar owners as they prepare to unwrap various holiday-themed pop-up experiences — despite a Grinch of a pandemic that’s upended sales for much of the year.
Sippin’ Santa is expected to return to Westport-crafted Julep Cocktail Club as a reimagined, curbside pop-up next month, Keely Edgington told Startland News.
“If there was ever a time for holiday cheer, wouldn’t 2020 be the year for it? It’s been a tough year for so many people in our community and for the Julep family. Keeping to what we had already put on our calendar is a reminder that [the pandemic] is just a season and that seasons change — thankfully,” added Edgington, who co-owns Julep with her husband, Beau Williams.
When the pop-up launches Nov. 6, masked guests will be allowed to take selfies inside Julep’s holiday tiki bar while picking up their orders, but traditional seating has been put on ice.
Sippin’ Santa cocktails, glassware, inspired food, and Julep’s expanded whiskey bottle program will be available to customers 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and noon to 6 p.m Saturdays and Sundays.
Why bring back the Christmas concept?
“Our survival depends on it,” Edgington said, describing why the mid-pandemic experience makes sense for Julep.
“We’ll be concluding this year’s patio season on either Halloween or Nov. 1 — weather depending. We’re hoping to sell enough Sippin’ Santa cocktails, whiskey and food to get us through the cold months or until a vaccine is widely available.”
All drinks available on the Sippin’ Santa menu are new for 2020 and include such creations as Edgington’s personal favorites: “Run Away Sleigh,” a mix of gin, sage, cranberry, and lime; and the “Brah Humbug,” made with blended scotch, mulled wine, drambuie, and served warm.
In search of a Miracle
A collaborative effort that partners New York City-based Cocktail Kingdom with bars and restaurants around the world, Sippin’ Santa poured its first Kansas City pop-up at Julep in 2019, following the wild success of its sister concept — Miracle Pop-Up Bar — at The Rockhill Grille in 2018.
The 2020 status of Miracle at Rockhill is expected to be announced next week, the Rockhill Restaurant Group told Startland News.
A second Miracle location — Miracle on the Plaza — launched in the former home of The Oliver on the Country Club Plaza in 2019. A representative from Cocktail Kingdom could not be reached for comment about the status of the location or plans for additional metro locations in 2020.
“They’ve been very helpful and understanding. They’re going through this too [in NYC] and have a very compassionate perspective and are helping us pivot to an exclusively to go service,” Edgington said.
“We’ll be including very specific directions on how to achieve the Sippin’ Santa experience at home and including garnishes as well. When people come into the space to pick up we hope they feel celebratory and excited for the season.”
Additional incarnations of the Cocktail Kingdom pop-ups have already been announced in such cities as Houston, Galveston, New York City, and Atlanta.
Tinsel for Tom’s Town?
In the Crossroads Arts District, Tom’s Town won’t legalize another year of its prohibition-inspired pop-up with Crossroads Hotel, said Steve Revare, co-owner.
Instead, the bar will focus its efforts on a socially distant supper club — Nighthawk, ready to serve Nov. 10 in partnership with chef Kara Anderson, Verbena; Dec. 2 with chef Celina Tio, The Belfry; and Dec. 12 with chef Mark Dandurand, Canary Bar + Bistro.
Additional chefs and dates are expected to be announced through the end of the year, Revare said. Tom’s Town also plans to continue its curbside cocktail service.
Click here for information on another Tom’s Town event –– Holiday Cocktails at KC Culinary or here to learn more about Distillery Dinner in partnership with The Stillwell restaurant at the Lowes Hotel.
Finding ways to retain the impact of holiday pop-ups could mean the difference between a successful 2021 and closing for good, Edgington said of the current landscape for bar owners working to strain the effects of the pandemic.
“[The boost from 2019’s Sippin’ Santa] was the sole reason we were able to survive the shutdown. We remain hopeful that there are enough passionate tiki drinkers and those who love some holiday cheer to help us hold over through the winter,” she said.
“After Sippin’ Santa ends on Dec. 31, we’ll be closed for renovations that include a large patio space and we’ll be open again once warmer weather arrives back in KC — or [when] the positivity rate in KC is under five percent.”