This Black Friday, those who cringe from shopping malls and jangling crowds have another way to kick off the holiday season: A mug of cheer, maybe in the form of an Old Fashioned iced with a snowball or hot almond-milk rum punch called Bad Santa.
Starting Friday, Rockville Centre's Cork & Kerry will be transformed into an immersive holiday-cocktail pop-up called Miracle on Long Island, the first time that the rapidly growing pop-up has landed locally.
Miracle on Long Island marries kitschy, absorbing holiday décor ("We decorate everything, from the deck to the roof," in addition to the interior, said Cork & Kerry co-owner Doug Brickel) with nearly two dozen seasonally themed drinks such as eggnog laced with cognac, sherry and brown butter (Jingle Bells Nog) and cosmos blended with spiced cranberry sauce and absinthe mist (the Christmaspolitan). Some drinks reference the darker side of holiday spirit, such as the twist on the mai tai made with sweet potato rum and marshmallow fluff that's meant to emulate a sweet-potato casserole.
Miracle, as it's called, was born in 2014 in an unfinished East Village bar whose owner, Greg Boehm, transformed it into a cocktail pop-up for the holidays. Miracle was so wildly popular that it spread to other cities over the ensuing years. In 2017, Miracle took place in 50 bars around the country; this year, 90 locations will remake themselves into Miracles, each one chosen and vetted by the umbrella Miracle organization (which also supplies drink recipes).
Cork & Kerry co-owner Doug Brickel said he was contacted in the spring to take part in the event, and it's involved months of intense planning. "Everything we're good at and practice comes into play with this [drinks] list," Brickel said, such as making things that include eucalyptus syrup (for the Koala-La La La, La La La La), marshmallow orgeat and brown-butter washed cognac to C&K's precise standards.
After Wednesday night draws to a close — it's one of the busiest bar nights of the year — Brickel and his team will spend Thanksgiving transforming the 50-seat Cork & Kerry into a "festive, warm and over-the-top" space full of pop-culture references (think "Die Hard" and fishnet leg lamps). "To us, it feels like opening a whole new bar," Brickel said.
Tiki-drink lovers should note that vintage tiki drinks expert and author Jeff "Beachbum" Berry created an array of drinks for this year's Miracle under the banner Sippin' Santa. They include the bracing Rudolph Shoots The Curl, with fernet, Averna, and dark chocolate liqueur.
Cork & Kerry's food menu will be scaled back during the pop-up, but two seasonal items will debut: Popcorn kissed with brown butter and cinnamon, and house-dehydrated beef jerky.
Cork & Kerry reopens as Miracle on Long Island at 4 p.m. on Friday, and will stay in character until Dec. 30 or 31.
Cork & Kerry, 24 S. Park Ave., Rockville Centre.