“It keeps you jolly, quite frankly,” says bartender Ian Powers of the frenetically twinkling Christmas lights and oversized nutcracker soldiers that surround his workspace at the Miracle Bar, a pop-up holiday experience inside what’s usually the Funk Zone cocktail joint Pearl Social. As he slips heavily spiced cocktails such as the SanTaRex and Yippie Ki Yay Mother F****r! into Santa-hat-wearing dinosaur and Santa pants mugs, I’m poking a seared marshmallow away with my nose while slurping his On Dasher, a rich-yet-zippy fizz-like concoction of gin, cream, and egg that’s lifted by vanilla liqueur, cardamom, black pepper, and lemon.
Yeah, it’s complex, like 10 other drinks on the concise $13-$16 menu, which also offers two $8 shots (the “Nice,” with gingerbread-spiced rye, and the “Naughty,” with cinnamon bourbon) and seasonally appropriate snacks like a cheese ball, rosemary nuts, and peppermint bark. The dizzying decor is intentionally overwhelming, leaving no doubt that you’ve splashed into a yuletide orgasm, one that’s simultaneously occurring at more than 100 other bars across North America, London, Amsterdam, and Panama City. The sensory overload was such that I didn’t even notice the pumping carols until Mariah’s ubiquitous wishlist burst through the haze. Powers, who’s spent some time checking out the social media posts from other Miracles, said with confidence, “I think we have the best space.”
If you’re throwing up a little in your holidays-are-suspect woke mouth right now, swallow it down, and make a reservation to lift your cheer in this unending era of global dismay. You’ll need one to imbibe this much-advised dose of Christmas psychedelia — when I went at 5 p.m. sharp last Wednesday, there was already a line of folks waiting for their tables. Rest assured about that $5 reservation fee — it goes to the Santa Barbara High School band.
As for the dollars you drop on cognac-sherry-almond-milk or tequila-cocoa-coffee cocktails? Maybe you’ll finally make it onto Santa’s naughty list. I’m pretty sure I did.
31 Anacapa St., Ste. B; (805) 284-0380; pearlsocialsb.com
Sign up to get Matt Kettmann’s Full Belly Files, which serves up multiple courses of food & drink coverage every Friday, going off-menu from our regularly published content to deliver tasty nuggets of restaurant, recipe, and refreshment wisdom to your inbox.