'Tis the season for holiday-themed drinks and Instagram posts. Among the many markets and events in the Twin Cities, there are a few places that bring all of that indoors.
The ceilings are crowded with ornaments, there are Christmas lights everywhere and even a few Hanukkah-inspired drinks to lift your spirits. For a few weeks out of the year, places like Betty Danger’s Country Club and Lawless Distilling Company transform into what can only be compared to Santa’s workshop.
Betty Danger’s Country Club, temporarily called Mary’s Christmas Palace, is decked out with decorations everywhere you look. There are Santa hats on every figurine, the waiters are dressed in their best holiday attire and stockings are hung above the bar.
This year is the second that the restaurant has embraced the holiday spirit, and it was accompanied by their fourth annual Bizarre Bazaar. Mary’s Christmas Palace started spreading holiday cheer as early as Oct.1.
These holiday-themed bars and restaurants are a place for people to gather with their loved ones for a cheerful night out, especially if they’re spending the holidays away from home.
“There's something about holiday lights that I just adore … all the twinkling lights and how every single picture just turns out phenomenally,” said Gabe Nyen, a junior at the University of Minnesota studying plant science.
It’s easy to get just the right shot at Mary’s Christmas Palace, especially by holding the bar's Jingle Ball Cocktail, which is served in an ornament placed in a cocktail glass.
The festive drinks don’t stop there. Lawless Distilling has partnered with Miracle, a Christmas-themed pop-up bar, for its holiday season. Miracle hosts locations nationally, but it came to Lawless three years ago.
“That initial year, we didn't really know what to expect,” said Nathan Karnitz, owner of Lawless Distilling. “We just opened our little 50-seat bar and the masses have kind of descended on us. We’ve just had to hustle to keep up with all the people coming in.”
The bar mimics the mood at Mary’s Christmas Palace, but in a more urban sense than a country club setting. Some of Lawless’s usual decorations remain, while wreaths are hung from the walls.
“The last couple years, we've just been trying to find ways to make it bigger and more accommodating to more people,” Karnitz said. They’ve opened up their distillery space and with about 30 volunteers, have hung roughly 2,000 Christmas bulbs from the ceiling.
The distillery’s cocktail glasses are also designed with dreidels and lounging Santas to create an effect that doesn’t just end with twinkling lights on the ceiling.
“It was the first time I ever saw it and there were hundreds of ornaments hanging from the ceiling. It was so beautiful,” said Gabriella Sonnenschein, a senior studying strategic communication at the University of Minnesota. “I could go there with anyone and be super happy.”
The drinks at Lawless Distilling range from spiked hot chocolate with mint and a toasted marshmallow on top, to a snowball old fashioned, served with a large spherical ice cube.
“They did it in a really good way where it was just for fun,” Sonnenschein said. “They weren’t doing it because this is Christmas, and everyone needs to celebrate it. It was all just pure joy.”