A famous jolly old man with a white beard is gearing up for his annual appearance to spread good tidings and cheer this week. However, there’s another distinguished gentleman with a white beard and colorful garb who has already created enough spirited revelry to last well into 2020.
Of course, we’re taking about Tiki historian, author and bar owner Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and his festive Sippin’ Santa surf shacks, an offshoot of the popular Miracle holiday pop-ups. Our previous story explored the story behind both concepts, including info on the 28 Sippin’ Santa locations in the United States and Canada. Miracle has exploded like Christmas tinsel to 108 locations worldwide.
Launching the week of Thanksgiving, both of these over-the-top, kitschy concepts have become a seasonal ritual and show no signs of slowing. The bars are fully immersive and can be enjoyed on many levels, from the snobbiest cocktail enthusiast to newbies just looking for seasonal fun, food and frivolity.
The drinks are definitely not frivolous. Miracle and Sippin’ Santa are owned and run by the successful Cocktail Kingdom, which also produces Berry’s top-of-the-line barware and published his two latest books, Sippin’ Safari and Potions of the Caribbean.
We caught up with “The Bum” during a break from his busy schedule making personal appearances and overseeing the Sippin’ Santa empire. His flagship bar, Latitude 29 in New Orleans, is in good hands under the leadership of “Mrs. Bum,” Annene Kaye, along with head bartender and GM Brad Smith, who did most of the heavy lifting in creating the latest Sippin’ Santa menu.
5 QUESTIONS WITH JEFF ‘BEACHBUM’ BERRY
There seems to be an insatiable demand for holiday-themed bars nowadays. Why do you think this has become a trend?
Tiki bars give you a tropical mini-vacation, and when you pile Christmas vacation on top of your tropical vacation you get two holidays in one: twice the atmosphere, twice the flavors, and hence twice the fun.
How do you think Sippin’ Santa differs from Miracle?
Miracle is strictly a Christmas pop-up, while Sippin’ is just as Christmasy but with an added Tiki overlay.
How much input do you have on the drinks, and how much is Brad?
It varies year to year. Last year the drinks were some mine and some Brad’s, but this year the recipes are all Brad’s. I did some tasting and some tweaking, but in most cases Brad’s “first draft” was the one we went with. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!