Christmas pop-up transforms Calgary bar into festive lounge

Proof Cocktail Lounge has transformed into a Christmas pop-up called Miracle on First Street. Complete with plaid tablecloths and wrapping papered-walls, the bar has a "very thorough" themed drink and dinner menu.

Proof Cocktail Lounge is pouring only festive drinks amid over-the-top decorations

Proof Cocktail Lounge is serving a full menu of Christmas-themed drinks and dishes until Dec. 23. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

A craft cocktail bar in Calgary has decked the halls and poured the festive drinks.

Proof Cocktail Lounge has transformed into a Christmas pop-up called Miracle on First Street, based on its address. Complete with plaid tablecloths and wrapping papered-walls, the bar has a "very thorough" themed drink and dinner menu. 

Faux icicles hang from the bar, and Santa hats cover the bar stools. Ribbons, tinsel, fake snow and red and green lights complete the atmosphere. The staff, of course, sport their best Christmas sweaters.

"Kind of created a fairly cozy ambiance for everyone here," bar general manager Makina Labrecque said.

  • Listen to the sounds of the Christmassy cocktail bar:

The lounge has gone through 60 litres of eggnog. Staff have been making it by the 20-litre batch, using more than 600 eggs so far.

Labrecque says it felt like they bought all the Christmas decorations being sold by Canadian Tire and Dollarama. They've been planning it since July.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of tinsel and sparkles laying around afterward but it'll be good for New Year's," she said.

Makina Labrecque is the general manager of Proof Cocktail Lounge at 1302 First St. S.W. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

The Christmas bar idea is part of an international effort called Miracle. The idea was started by man in New York who found he couldn't get his new East Village bar open in time for the holidays. So at the suggestion of his mother, he transformed the unfinished space into a pop-up holiday-themed bar.

That drove enough business to get him through — and garner requests from other bars to do the same. Now his project has expanded to more than 80 cocktail bars from Greece to Canada.

Proof Cocktail Lounge staff are getting into the holiday spirit during the bar's Christmas pop-up. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)

Bars worldwide adorn with kitschy decor and pour tasty drinks for a couple months leading up to Christmas. Proof is the only one in Western Canada, with others in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City this year.

"I'm just enjoying the sheer volume, of course. It's been very busy. So it keeps us going, and then also just the fact that it's really interesting to see the staff adapt," Labrecque said. "As a team, we've been really kind of crushing it."

Bar staff have learned to make new drinks, like the Koala Lalala, which is a riff on a daiquiri with eucalyptus syrup and lime. It's an easy-to-drink Australian Christmas cocktail.

The bar staff went to the dollar store and Canadian Tire to stock up on as many Christmas decorations as they could. Their cocktails are now served in sometimes campy festive mugs and glasses. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Another, the Yippee Ki-Yay is a silky tropical Christmas drink with dark rum, tiki spices, lime and sweet potato. There's also a Snowball Old Fashioned with butterscotch-infused rye.

On the menu, the lounge is serving a hot turkey sandwich, Christmas trifle and a Buddy the Elf cold Christmas chocolate pasta, based on the popular movie Elf.

"That's a really fun one, as well, that people have been loving," Labrecque said.

Miracle is open until Dec. 23.

For future years, any bar can apply to be considered as a host for the festive pop-ups. 

With files from Danielle Nerman, Anis Heydari and the Calgary Eyeopener.