Christmas is generally associated with the arctic, not the tropics. However, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is on a mission to change that. His national Sippin’ Santa pop-ups are back for a third year with the promise to fuse tiki with the yule season providing an epic combo unseen since Bing Crosby teamed up with the Andrew Sisters to record “Mele Kalikimaka.”
A dozen bars (listed later) across the U.S. will makeover their decor and add special menus to transforming outposts of Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack. “It’s a mashup between tiki and Christmas,” the Beachbum himself told NP. “The bars will mix over-the-top Christmas decor with over-the-top tiki decor. The tiki drinks are also a mashup of Christmas spice and flavors in tiki recipes.”
The seven drinks on the Sippin Santa menu are a collaborative effort between Berry and Brad Smith, Head Bartender and GM of Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29.
“There’s a very distinct flavor profile associated with the holiday: heavy spices, cranberries, caramelized orange. And, there is a very distinct flavor profile associated with tiki: Polynesian and Caribbean flavors,” explained Smith. “We tried to to find a symbiotic relationship between these profiles.”
That fusion produced drinks like the namesake Sippin’ Santa (Aged Demerara Rum, Averna, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice, Gingerbread Mix) and the Kana Kaloka Swizzle (Plantation OFTD Rum, Lime Juice, Swizzle Syrup.)
However, the festive drink list is a little different than your typical tiki menu. “Look at the spirits represented, there’s lots of variety,” said Smith. “Most people who drink tiki drinks are okay with rum. But, we wanted to make this menu a more accessible for everyone with other spirits also.”
That philosophy begat the Grinch Grog (Blanco Tequila, Herbal Liqueur, Pine, Pear, Lemon Juice, ‘Krampus Syrup”), Mele Kalikimaka (London Dry Gin, Grand Marnier, Lime Juice, Cranberry Syrup, Allspice Liqueur, Herbsaint), and Hawaiian Milk Punch (Bourbon, Cream, Chai Syrup, Sarsaparilla and ‘Tobacco’ Bitters, Nutmeg).
Yes, there is (of course) a drink called the Blue Christmas (Vodka, Blue Curacao, Apricot Brandy, Lemon Juice, Cream of Coconut)! There’s also a low(er) ABV offering in Rudolph Shoots The Curl (Fernet Branca Menta, Averna, Dark Chocolate Liqueur).
Of course, tiki is about the full experience. Fortunately, drinkware royalty Greg Boehm of Cocktail Kingdom is a partner in the pop-up. (Yes, Sippin’ Santa is an offshoot of Boehm’s wildly popular Miracle pop-ups.) You can stir your drinks with special swizzle sticks in the shape of a surfboard—a surfboard with a shark bite that is.
The cocktails will be served in glasses and mugs created just for the occasion also. There’s a special red version of Danny “Tiki Diablo” Gallardo’s Beachbum Berry Bora Bora mug. The title drink comes in a mug that features Jolly St. Nick decked out in swimming trunks and clutching a surfboard. There’s also retro-looking rocks glass featuring the logo.
The Beachbum, himself, got excited when he told NP about the Santa Pants, a likeness of the Fat Man’s trousers and boots in mug form. “People love that one,” Berry noted.
The locations will feature decorations just as outlandish as the drinks. Each venue will receive some tiki-stockings and posters to get started and then from there, the sky (ocean?) is the limit. Expect lots of lights and lots of surf.
Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack will open on Black Friday (11.23) and run through Christmas Day (12.25). You can visit Shacks at The Jungle Bird (Sacramento, CA), Archipelago (Washington, DC), Bon Ton (Atlanta, GA), The Skip (Detroit, MI), Porco Lounge & Tiki Room (Cleveland, OH), Saturn Room (Tulsa, OK), Nickel City (Austin, TX), Lei Low Bar (Houston, TX), Boilermaker (NYC, NY) and Golden Girl Rum Club (Springfield, MO)., and of course, at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 in New Orleans.