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Sand Dollar Lounge transformed into Christmas ‘Miracle’

It’s shortly before 3 a.m. Monday, and the Sunday night shift is winding down at the Sand Dollar Lounge. The band wrapped up its final set nearly an hour earlier, and the crowd has left for the night. But there’s a bit more afoot than the usual post-show routine.

As staff members wash glassware and mop the floor, owner Anthony Jamison’s wife, Magdalena, is walking the perimeter of the bar, pulling oversized Santa hats over the backs of the barstools. A few minutes later, while the team from Bright Light Holiday Company begins unloading more than 5,000 Christmas lights and other decorations from a trailer in the bar’s parking lot, loyal customers Korey Replogle and David Yett begin drilling a candy-striped stripper pole into the ceiling near the door, in front of a mural of elves twerking.

When they finish, Yett takes it for a spin, testing to see if it will support his body weight as Replogle poses for a photo “tipping” him with dollar bills.

They’re all just part of the group of Sand Dollar employees, contractors and friends who will spend more than 12 hours transforming the interior of the bar at 3355 Spring Mountain Road into a uniquely Las Vegas winter wonderland.

“I told the decorating company that I wanted it to look like Hunter Thompson mixed with Christmas: a psychedelic over-the-top Vegas Christmas,” Anthony Jamison explained.

Half a day later, at 3:15 p.m., the place has the manic, magical vibe of a North Pole workshop on Christmas Eve morning — if Santa’s helpers were a bit taller and had a naughty streak.

While a barman prepares ingredients for the holiday cocktail menu, and three to four others vacuum and sweep the glitter-strewn floor, a duo struggle to pull red fuzzy pants onto a still-headless Santa mannequin. The bar’s stage area has been transformed into the front yard of a psychedelic gingerbread house inhabited by hard-partying elves, while its raised VIP viewing area is now a blue and white Hanukkah corner. Striped stockings and elf hats swing from a makeshift mantle near the pool table. Oversized ornaments and several constellations’ worth of lights hang from the ceiling.

About 15 minutes before the scheduled opening of a five-week holiday pop-up unlike anything Las Vegas has ever seen, the team gathers near the bar for a grand opening holiday toast. After downing their whiskey and dimming the lights, they head outside to watch former Playboy Playmate and Strip headliner Claire Sinclair cut the ribbon to officially open Miracle on Spring Mountain.

As the first guests file in, many pose for photos in front of the stripper pole, which serves as the centerpiece of a selfie space labeled Santa’s Twerkshop. Others head to the bar to sample one of the 10 signature Miracle cocktails, or three infused shots. Even those who aren’t imbibing seem to be impressed by the presentations, which include a koala bear clutching the coupe glass holding the Koala-La La La, La LaLa La, a snowball-cooled Old Fashioned, and a holiday-attired dinosaur mug for the SanTaRex.

Jamison is quick to point out, however, that what goes into each glass is even more impressive than the manner in which it’s served.

“They’re labor-intensive, all of them,” he says of the drinks, which were designed by the Miracle Bar home office in New York, but customized here in Las Vegas. “It took two of us nine hours just to (make) the syrups.”

Miracle on Spring Mountain is a spinoff of a concept that was born in New York City’s East Village in 2014, and has since expanded to more than 90 locations around the world. And it marks the first time Las Vegas has hosted one of the events.

“We felt we needed a really strong partner for Las Vegas,” says Miracle Bar CEO Greg Boehm. “One thing about Miracle is it has to look great and be over the top, kind of like Christmas vomited everyplace. But the drinks have to taste delicious.”

The Sand Dollar, which caters to local food and beverage professionals as well as music fans, has prided itself on its cocktail program since Jamison and his partners purchased it in 2015. Nonetheless, they traveled to New York for cocktail (and decorating) training. And, as what may be the first Miracle Bar to have live music every night of the pop-up, the team pulled out all the stops on that front as well.

“We’ve booked pretty much our best bands every night instead of saving them for Friday and Saturday,” Jamison says.

Miracle on Spring Mountain will be open every night between now and December 31, from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. It’s 21-and-over, with a touch of adult content in the decorations, and non-smoking before midnight.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

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