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Popular East Austin bar surfs into holidays with tiki-themed pop-up
For some Austinites, Thanksgiving night is an excuse to embrace the holiday spirit; for others, it’s time to hit the bar. Now, locals can combine both with a visit to Sippin’ Santa at beloved east side bar Nickel City. The tiki-themed holiday pop-up opened November 25 — right on time for post-Turkey Day festivities.
Nickel City co-owner Travis Tober says he decided to give the already over-the-top concept a little something extra.
“We definitely wanted to up the game this year and get a little more island vibe,” Tober tells CultureMap, which means decorations in every corner and a slate of special events.
New features also includes a tiki transformation of Cash Only, the bar-within-a-bar window at the back of the space. The boozy hut is outfitted with a hot drink station and will serve shooters from a surfboard “shot-ski.”
The bathrooms also get in on the campy fun. One is an ode to Elvis Presley’s series of Hawaiian movies while the other sports an Instagrammable pink flamingo motif.
Among the special happenings in December are a special Home Alone trivia night with Austin’s Get It Gals on December 10 and a Cash Only Cousin Eddie takeover benefitting Emancipet featuring Tromba Tequila and Pabst Blue Ribbon on December 22-23.
There will also be live music on December 17 as local act Spliff Kazoo and His Fronds headline a psychedelic cruise ship party complete with outrageous tiki drinks.
The concept was born in 2015 as a companion to the Miracle bar pop-up series, replacing the wintery decor mix with tropical kitsch. Although 2018 was the first year for Nickel City's Sippin’ Santa, Miracle has been running at 307 W. Fifth St. bar The Eleanor since 2017.
As with the other 26 Sippin’ Santa locations in major cities across the U.S. and Canada, the Nickel edition will also carry cocktails created by award-winning bartender Brad Smith and tiki legend Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The list includes approachable drinks like the Kris Kringle Colada and the cheeky Christmas Eve of Destruction with dark overproof rum, herbal liqueur, nutmeg syrup, lime juice, and angostura bitters.
Sippin’ Santa will run at Nickel City until the end of December. Reservations for mini-holiday parties are available through the bar's website.