Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven describes himself “as pretty numb to the holidays” after years working at hotels. But by participating in Miracle, a series of pop-up bars with set seasonal cocktail menus held in over 50 locations, the bartender is losing his Scrooge-like attitude.
Pacific Cocktail Haven, or PCH, is the first San Francisco home for Miracle, which began as a one-off pop-up in New York City called Miracle on 9th Street. It starts the Monday after Thanksgiving, when PCH will don its Christmas apparel, pause its typical menu, and become Miracle through Christmas Eve. And while PCH is the only Miracle location in San Francisco — some cities have several outposts — it won’t be the only holiday pop-up bar. Another, called Deck the Halls, is headed to North Beach and the former The Square space.
Before deciding to join the holiday fray, Diedrich wasn’t visited by three ghosts — he just heard from friends in the cocktail industry who had participated in years past, and was asked to join the group by Miracle creator Greg Boehm.
“It definitely started just as a one-location thing,” Boehm explains. He hadn’t yet finished construction on what’s now his New York cocktail bar Mace, and the first 2014 pop-up was held to fund the final phase of of the buildout. “We knew it would help us pay for construction, but that was about as far as we thought.”
But because Boehm also owns the barware sales website Cocktail Kingdom — he describes it as “a hobby that got out of control” — he’s one of the best-connected bartenders in the country. After Miracle’s success, he shared the playbook with other bartending friends, building the network of pop-ups that San Francisco now joins through PCH. Naturally, Cocktail Kingdom creates the custom Miracle glassware — mugs, coupes, highballs, and rocks glasses — all for sale at Miracle bars as commemorative items.
Miracle drinks like You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out (pumpkin spiced rye whiskey, Budweiser-marshmallow syrup, egg) and a Snowball Old Fashioned (gingerbread bourbon, wormwood bitters, lemon zest) are crowd-pleasers, and taking the recipes list is easier than creating 18 holiday cocktails from scratch, Diedrich explains. Decor, however, is left up to bars, and Diedrich says he’s getting... creative.
“My staff is calling me Clark Griswold, I’ve got extension cords everywhere,” the bartender says, referencing National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “It’ll be insane, the walls covered in wrapping paper, tinsel, fake snow.”
PCH is conveniently located near Union Square, the closest place in San Francisco to the North Pole with lights, shopping, and an ice skating rink. “Being in a shopping district is great,” Boehm explains, and Miracle could lure non-cocktail geeks into the lifestyle. “The cocktail nerds may already know PCH and know about Kevin,” Boehm says, “but a lot of people who aren’t traditionally cocktail drinkers will come in for the Christmas kitsch.”
One group who might be attracted to the bar, but perhaps less welcome: Participants in Santacon, an citywide bar crawl popular with young 20s day drinkers. Fortunately, Diedrich still knows how to be a grinch, when necessary.
“We’re trained professionals,” he says, “we know how to cut people off.”