These days, it's not enough to show your holiday spirit by simply donning knit abominations to fashion. Bars are now joining the spectacle by layering on an XXL equivalent of the ugly Christmas sweater and decking every wall, stool and tumbler in over-the-top ornamentation.
One of this year's new seasonal pop-ups is Miracle (422 SW Broadway, 503-228-1212), the temporary title of Kimpton Hotel Vintage's Bacchus Bar that at any other time of the year is just another sleek, lobby-adjacent watering hole. But through New Year's Eve, the space will be strewn with a hodgepodge of holiday kitsch—somewhere a Dollar Store's shelves have been raided of every Santa, snowflake and stocking.
Sadly, all this adornment turns out to be a bit of a letdown—like racing down the stairs on the big morning and unwrapping a pair of overpriced socks. The impressive entrance, with its grand tree and inflatable Santa soaring skyward with his reindeer, give way to less-inspired décor toward the back, mostly consisting of wrapping paper taped to the walls. No one even bothered to cover the creepy rendering of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and his pierced nipple in the rear.
The bar is essentially an all-too-costly experience you could've gotten for less somewhere else. The high prices make more sense once you learn that this Miracle is just one in a larger chain of bars that pay a fee to participate and pony up for themed mugs and glasses. In a way, it's as if a business-savvy Grinch stole Christmas to slap a brand name on it and sell it back to holiday-drunk Whos.
And you'll definitely pay a premium for any of the cocktails. Of course, it's easier to pick up the tab when your bartender is dressed as Buddy the Elf and just as cheery—ours even belted out a few "falalalalas." Wintry spins on classic concoctions like the Christmapolitan ($14), finished with a spritz of absinthe, were solid. The grapefruit-hued mix tiptoed between sweet and tangy with a pleasing acidic kick thanks to spiced cranberry sauce and lime before ending on the woody notes imparted by a sprig of rosemary slapped by the bartender to wake it up and release the oils.
The only real disappointment was the wonderfully named but oddly flavored Yippie Ki Yay Mother F****r! ($13). Served in a Santa pants mug—which can be yours for an additional $11—the sweet potato snowcone was also too much work to consume. I couldn't figure out if you were supposed to eat the mound of ice plopped in the middle of watery rum or wait for it to melt and then drink up.
There's a short list of snacks you'd expect to find at, say, a Christmas party for a financial adviser firm. We did not spring for the $85 caviar and instead opted for the most festive menu item: the Christmas cookie plate ($10), with not a gingerbread or chocolate chip in the bunch, but oddly a tiny, aberrant cupcake with frosting that tasted like it had been squeezed out of a tube of toothpaste. Beyond that peppermint punch in the mouth, though, the assortment of pingpong ball-sized confections—while very pretty—were hit and miss. It'd be a true miracle if Santa could choke them all down.
I get taking Christmas to the extreme and even find it pretty fun. But the prices for what you get can be tough to justify. So if you go, take that $14 cocktail upstairs to the city's best-kept-secret game room. There you'll find a pool table, a shuffleboard, an Xbox and a Wii that don't cost a dime to play. Now that's a Christmas miracle.