Better Days in Brickell found its niche by creating an vintage, intimate bar vibe unlike any other in Miami. This holiday season, it's making good on that promise by bringing a northern Christmas to Miami.
Partner Will Thompson describes Better Days as a bar that's very "to ourselves" — for the locals, that is. Holly Days is no different. For the month of December, Thompson and company have turned the bar into your out-of-state grandma's kitschy living room, but with specialty drinks, holiday events, and, of course, free popcorn.
“We wanted to create a spot where everybody, no matter where you’re from, can feel comfortable and homey at," says Thompson, referring to Brickell's many transplants that stumble upon the bar. "We found that the holiday pop-up idea brings everybody together."
Holly Days' cozy and silly vibe complements louder holiday pop-ups in Brickell, like Fado Irish Pub's. This month, Better Days has already hosted several special holiday events, like an ugly sweater party, as well as impromptu gift giveaways, and santa hats for all. The bar's popular retro arcade games, like Pac-Man, will be free for the month of December in the spirit of the season.
At the bar, you can order quirky wintry drinks ($10) like the Dead Flamingo (the bar's mascot), a vegan twist on Puerto Rican coquito, using Chartreuse lit aflame instead of crème de menthe and Flor de Caña rum. (Non-vegan classics can be made upon request.) You might also try the Dead Burrito Sabanero, a fusion of coquito and a grasshopper, adding a house cinnamon syrup, nutmeg, and peach bitters. For the less peppermint-inclined, Kris Kringle’s Cranberry levels up the vodka cranberry with the bar's house rosemary-cranberry simple syrup.
With Holly Days, Thompson seized his chances to indulge unabashedly in the silliest parts of Christmas. “We play different styles of Christmas music, whether it’s the classics, the carols, the corny ones, the remixes, the hip-hop versions, the rock versions.” (DMX's modern classic cover of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," anyone?) The bar is decked with all manner of tinsel and holly, and Thompson even jokes about getting an open fire going.
"It's as if Santa's Enchanted Forest threw up decorations in there," he laughs, nodding to another deep-cut Miami holiday tradition.
On Christmas Day, Holly Days will go all out with Christmas karaoke to send the season off with a bang until its big New Year's Eve party. Scrooges and grinches unwelcome.
Holly Days. 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Through December 31, at Better Days, 75 SE Sixth St., Miami; 786-220-7690; betterdaysmiami.com.
Stefanie Fernández is a freelance music and arts writer for Miami New Times. She received her BA in English from Yale University in 2017. She is always lying on the floor listening to the Replacements' "Unsatisfied."
- Stefanie Fernández
- Twitter: @matervamami