NEW YORK -- There are plenty of Christmas-themed bars and experiences this time of year, but those who celebrate Hanukkah may be feeling a little left out.
Maccabee Bar is a holiday pop-up bar in Manhattan's West Village that is entirely dedicated to Hanukkah. When you walk in the door, you're immediately hit with the warmth of the festival of lights, blue-and-white decor, and a 10-foot inflatable menorah.
"I want a little Jewish 21-year-old to walk in and get that same excitement that I assume every Christian kid feels when they see Santa for the first time," said Naomi Levy, founder of Maccabee Bar.
The experience she's curated here is "all about Hanukkah and Jewish flavors, playing some dreidel, eating some latkes, and just having fun."
When Levy was running the bar at the famed restaurant Eastern Standard in Boston, she worked Christmas every year, an experience she loved but that left her feeling "like a tourist," Levy said.
"I didn't grow up with Christmas. So as I saw this different kind of holiday bars, Christmas bars popping up, I thought to myself, 'What if I made one that was 100% dedicated to Hanukkah,'" Levy said.
This was back in 2018, and after just one week, it was clear that Maccabee Bar was something the whole community needed this time of year. From there, Levy expanded the pop-up from Boston to New York. For the second year, Maccabee Bar can be found at Ollie West Village until Dec. 31.
Levy is an award-winning bartender and has been working in bars and restaurants for 20 years. It's no surprise that the drinks on the menu are as creative as they come -- each with a unique story linked to Hanukkah.
"We highly encourage people to play dreidel. You can buy bags of gelt to gamble with. We have the rules if you need a refresher. And you can also just spin the dreidel to decide your cocktail," said Levy.
In addition to the festive cocktails, the menu has Hanukkah-themed treats such as potato latkes and fresh jelly doughnuts, delivered by The Doughnut Project Wednesdays through Sundays.
"I think it's so necessary right now. We're all carrying around this weight. And I hope when people walk in the door at Maccabee Bar, they can just feel a little lighter and just get to celebrate. No matter your background, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, Maccabee Bar is for everyone. And I think in these times, that's really, really important," said Levy.