Our visit to Pittsburgh's Miracle bar was two years in the making.
To call this holiday pop-up bar popular would be an understatement, as seemingly everyone wants a piece of the action. We tried to visit the Miracle on Liberty pop-up in 2016 twice and were met with lines out the door that barely moved.
Dejected and not wanting to wait outside in below freezing temperatures, we waited until 2017's pop-up (which was in a new location that was twice the size, aptly named Miracle on Market) to get in to try the seasonal creations. We made it our mission to visit this one on a Thursday night, hopeful for smaller crowds, and arrived to yet another packed house.
But with a bit of persistence and luck we made it to the bar fairly quickly to order a few rounds of holiday themed libations.
Note: The below is from our visit to the Miracle on Market concept in 2017. In 2018, the bar returned to Liberty Avenue and is aptly named Miracle on Liberty. We will update this post once we visit the concept this year to report on new things to keep in mind; however, we expect it to be quite similar to last year other than the location change.
The Miracle Bar is an International Pop-Up
Before we dive into the drinks, we need to take a step back to talk about the pop-up itself.
This one is an international pop-up bar that can be found throughout the USA as well as select cities in Canada and Europe.
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The bar itself is manned by local bartenders (in Pittsburgh it is managed by the folks at The Warren), but the menu and general setup of the bar is the same no matter where you go (even down to the glassware they use).
A cut of the profits are donated to local charities, and in Pittsburgh a percentage of proceeds goes to 412 Food Rescue and the Tree of Life Foundation- drinking with a good deed mixed in!
Visiting the Miracle Bar in Pittsburgh
The first think you'll notice when visiting the Miracle bar (which for 2018 is back to Liberty Avenue for the Miracle on Liberty name) is that it is floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall Christmas. There is quite literally no space that is not covered with ornaments, lights, tinsel, upside down Christmas trees, and ample holiday themed glasses- of course.
We enjoyed watching people walk into the bar because everyone's reaction was always the same. They looked in, looked at the ceiling, and mouthed ‘wow.'
You probably will, too.
The second thing you'll notice is that it is packed. Even on our Thursday night visit there was hardly much walking around room until about 7pm when the happy hour crowd started filing out.
Somehow we got lucky and found a space to the side of the bar nearest to the door (and next to Krampus), which has bar seating but is also where dirty dishes collect to be washed and some of the messier drinks are prepared.
It seemed like most people were avoiding this area as a result, but we saw it as an opportunity for getting our drinks quickly- so we pounced on it (and we were right, the bartender paid close attention to us all night and received a solid tip for it as well).
Delicious Holiday Themed Cocktails
During our visit to the Miracle bar in 2017, we ended up trying four cocktails from their menu.
Our first round featured our two favorites of the evening- the Run Run Rudolph (a tequila-infused hot chocolate) and the You'll Shoot Your Rye Out (with pumpkin rye whiskey, Budweiser-Marshmallow syrup, and egg white).
The Run Run Rudolph is a lot like what you'd expect a spiked hot chocolate to be, but like what it'd be like if I made it (read: boozy and full of spices). The whipped cream on top was surprisingly dense and rich, and our only regret was that we wanted more of the booze and more of the whipped cream.
The You'll Shoot Your Rye Out was more of a traditional spirit-forward cocktail that had a nice marshmallow and spice flavor that was not too overpowering (with thankfully no discernible Budweiser flavor to be had).
Our second round I would say was not as good as the first, if only because the bar was pretty high to begin with. We opted for the Muletide (a mezcal heavy cocktail with sherry, allspice, ginger, and lemon flavors) as well as the Bad Santa (a traditional and intensely fortified mulled wine).
The Bad Santa itself is a fairly standard mulled wine (served in a Santa head mug, of course), but like the above cocktails was on the boozier side which does my heavy hand proud. The tawny port and orange liqueur balanced the spices nicely, too.
Finally, the Muletide was probably our least favorite of the four cocktails we tried as the predominant flavor was the smokiness from the mezcal, and it was a bit of a jolt to our palates after the previous sweeter and spice-heavy cocktails we'd had. However, if you love mezcal or if you're only having one drink, this one just might be for you!
Overall, we enjoyed the cocktails and the festive ambiance at the Miracle bar and highly recommend you check it out if you are making a visit to the Christmas festivities in Pittsburgh this year.
A Few Notes for Visiting Miracle on Liberty
As we alluded to at the beginning of this article, the Miracle pop-up bar is an international phenomenon that seemingly everyone wants a part of.
The popularity is great regardless of its location, with waits hours long to match (something we've heard about occurring at their pop-ups all over the world.
We visited on a Thursday night around 6pm and were met with a pretty large crowd inside, and the bulk of the patrons began to filter out around 7pm such that those coming in could get a drink within minutes.
As we were curious about how long the waits are on prime weekend hours, we asked our Facebook fans for comments. We received several responses that noted lines out the door on weekends, but generally everyone got in and served within 20 to 30 minutes. Those who had waits on the longer end of the spectrum also noted that they got free shots for being patient (however this could've been a one-time thing)!
With all this, we have to give credit where credit is due and note that the bartenders at the Miracle bar did a fabulous job with crowd management when we were there, and is most appreciated.
Keep these points in mind when planning your visit, put on your best ugly Christmas sweater, and plan for a night out with some festive cocktail creations. You won't regret it!
Miracle on Liberty is located at 717 Liberty Avenue. It is open from 4pm to 2am (or sooner if crowds die down) every day of the week from Black Friday until New Years Eve (including Christmas). Expect long waits.
For more things to see during Christmas in Pittsburgh, click the previous link! Or if you're looking for more holiday bars, check out Tinsel Town Cocktails at Harris Grill downtown, Jingle Bar, or Auld Lang Syne!