“I love Christmas,” says John Ennis, by way of explaining A Miracle on Seel Street – a pop-up bar and grotto just for the festive season that sits above Saltdog Slims and 81 LTD – and if that’s reason enough. And maybe it is.
No visitor to Miracle on Seel Street would doubt Ennis, founder of Graffiti Spirits (Slim’s, Saltdogs, Santa Chupitos etc) at his word. Clearly this is a place made by a man who has all the festive cheer of a post-haunting Scrooge.
Enter via a holly wreath-ed door at 83 Seel Street, previously unspotted as if there just for the occasion, and you begin the climb to the top floor up snow-drifted stairs. At the top a Christmas tree with sings showing the way to the North Pole, Home Alone house and Nakatomi Plaza… It’s Christmas again on Seel Street.
Inside there’s a cosy lounge and, well, a cosy bar. It’s all cosy, but it’s a nice reminder of how grand these Georgian terraces throughout Ropewalks are.
Original floorboards, wood-panelled windows and open fireplaces (alas, no roaring fire but you can’t have everything) make Miracle on Seel Street an intimate, almost olde-worlde festive setting. There are film nights too. And that’s before you get to the food and booze.
Graffiti Spirits – who own Saltdogs, 81 LTD, Santa Chupitos, El Bandito, Slim’s Pork Chop Express and Santa Maluco – have made cocktails one of their defining traits. So it’s no surprise to see a menu of Christmas spirits adorning the menu, ranging between £5-10.
Needless to say there’s mulled wine and, yes, there are the Old Fashioned and Gimlets of this world, but what about Homemade Irish Cream or a Martini with salted caramel, coffee liqueur and espresso?
There are also Pigs In Blankets, turkey sandwiches, Mac’n’Cheese and mince pies available as snacks, but really it’s the opportunity to warm the cockles (physical and spiritual) in the Dickensian-via-80s-films ambiance of Miracle on Seel Street.
Snowy New York, light-festooned suburbs, machine guns… Think of it as grotto for adults and grown-up kids and you can’t go far wrong.
There’s Bill Murray, Will Ferrell, Chevy Chase, umm, Bob Ross? Why not, we guess. Best of all is Andy Murray posing miserably in a Christmas jumper. We rate it to be probably the best thing he ever did.
Somehow we get different eras of Christmas. Victoriana is the benchmark here, but increasingly 80s America seems to be the time and place with which we associate Christmas. Snowy New York, light-festooned suburbs, machine guns… Think of it as grotto for grown-up kids and you can’t go far wrong.
Religion aside, Miracle on Seel Street is an evocation of whatever Christmas might mean to any of us – especially if that means food, alcohol and cult films.
• £10 booking buys entry, a goody bag and glass of home-made Irish Cream or Mulled Wine and a mini mince pie. Adults only after 7pm. Runs until 31 December.