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Holiday-themed pop-up bar, 'Helliday Inn,' offers grinches a place to 'be grumpy'

With an angry Santa Claus and entertainment each night, The Skinny is your anti-holiday destination.

Brooklyn resident, Mark Resnik, poses for a portrait

Brooklyn resident, Mark Resnik, poses for a portrait as the Angry Santa at The Skinny Bar and Lounge's pop-up, "Helliday Inn." Photo Credit: Bryan Bennett

It's not sparkling ornaments, perfectly wrapped gifts and a jolly old Saint Nick at The Skinny this year, it's a scant and ratty tree, old toys hanging from the ceiling and an angry Santa barking out complaints.

The Lower East Side bar and lounge is taking a different approach to the holidays with a celebration that looks like it came from the Grinch.

The anti-holiday themed-pop up, dubbed "The Helliday Inn," features a Christmas gone wrong with a gaudy ceiling with dripping lights, garland, Barbie dolls, Beanie Babies and empty beer cans; a wall full of stuffed deer heads; a visiting Santa Claus with an attitude problem; and a "Wheel of Misfortune," where patrons can take a risk and win a grab bag of goodies or pay for someone else's drink.

It's ... well, a lot. But that's the point, according to The Skinny's owner, Jim Carrano, who closed the bar for six days to get it completely decorated.

"A lot of the bars do these holiday themes and they're more about enjoying the decor and relaxing with a drink, but we wanted to let people feel a bit of the Lower East Side — things are going to happen," he told amNewYork. "It's not just a place to go to but something you did."

The schedule is packed with entertainment almost every night: Tuesdays will host a burlesque dancer, Valentina; Wednesdays are for drag shows; and the miserable, angry Santa visits Wednesday through Friday from 6 to 11 p.m. and on weekends starting around 2 or 3 p.m.

"He's a good old grouch," Carrano said. "He looks mean, but when people sit on his lap and take pictures, he's very cool." 

The "roughed up" Santa's coat is pinned with old "crusty" toys and stuffed animals and his hair is scraggly, Carrano said.

"He barks at you and yells things," he said. "He likes singing Radiohead's 'Creep' during karaoke, too."

Still being Santa, however, the jerky Claus helps man the Wheel of Misfortune, which will collect donations for numerous local charities, and will hand out winnings.

The bar's "Krampus Karaoke" is led by Broadway veteran DeMone Seraphin of Queens, who plays holiday tunes on the piano but also sneaks in dirty carols from time to time, Carrano said.

Patrons can sing along with provided sheet music Thursdays through Sundays.

And to push the envelope past the point of no return, Carrano is planning speed dating nights, "Goodfellas" Christmas-themed nights and other absurd events.

The pop-up wouldn't be complete without a special food and drink menu, either. Here's what you'll be able to order:

Drinks include the "I Saw Putin Kissing Santa Claus" raspberry vodka; "Grandpa's Secret Stash" bourbon or rye with apple brandy liqueur, ginger syrup and lemon juice; and the "Flying Elf," a frozen grasshopper made with Feret Menta, green creme de menthe and white creme de cacao among others.

Bites include "Wings... of an Angel," "Crabby Christmas" deviled eggs, "Sweet & Porkly" pulled pork, "Sleigh Beets Are Ringing" veggie burger and a "Raiding the Fridge" holiday leftover sandwich.

The bar's huge transformation is Carrano's way of trying to make the holidays an enjoyable thing for everyone in an unorthodox, Lower East Side way.

"Some people like b----ing about things they hate and want to be contrarians — I am the same way,"  he said. "Holidays have become this mandatory time to buy gifts for people and all about how much you're going to spend. It's not because you even want to anymore. It's not natural. We feel that people who don't like Christmas can be grumpy and miserable at this place and people who love Christmas will love it, too."

If you go: The pop-up will be up through January with the Angry Santa stopping his visits just before New Year's Eve. The Skinny opens at 4 p.m. on Mondays through Wednesdays, 2 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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