There’s nothing more festive than a holiday toast when New Orleans is done up in its seasonal finery. Stands to reason that Christmas cheer abounds in the city where the cocktail was invented and strolling with a drink in hand isn’t just legal but encouraged. Most bars around town strut out seasonal libation specials, with an emphasis on bubbles and brown-based cocktails, (think whiskey, bourbon, cognac and dark rum), zesty flavors like ginger, coffee and chocolate, warming hot toddies and social punches geared to pleasing a crowd.
With lobbies done up in their holiday best, the city’s hotel bars are a perfect fit for festive toasting. The revolving Carousel Bar in the Monteleone, a favorite gathering spot since 1949, is the perfect jumping off point for a celebration. Order the Reveillon Punch for starters. SoBou in The W on Chartres Street boasts a strong seasonal cocktail program year-round, including a crackling riff on s’mores called a Boxcar Campout featuring whiskey, black walnut bitter, crème de cocoa and a house made marshmallow.
Chris Hannah doesn’t just make a perfect French 75 at the romantic bar by the same name next to Arnaud’s in the French Quarter. His James Beard Award-winning bar program dazzles at every turn, including an outstanding take-off on the traditional Old Fashioned using locally crafted El Guapo bitters, along with Jim Beam, Amaro and Demerara. Or try his warm holiday Wassail, a spiced cider spiked with rum.
The Roosevelt New Orleans, dripping with holiday lights and decorations, is home to The Sazerac Bar, renowned as a favorite of Governor Huey P. Long’s, pours an array of naughty and nice drinks including Santa’s Candy Cane, Mrs. Claus’ Cookie, Cajun Buttered Rum, and the Holiday Fashioned. Bask in the light of some 25,000 white lights in the Windsor Court lobby, adorned with a 19 foot Christmas tree. And have a drink with seasoned mixologist Kent Westmoreland at The Cocktail Bar, the place for one of the best Corpse Reviver No. 2s in town.
Restaurants beyond hotel borders salute the holidays with seasonal sips. At Toups South inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, special pours include the Cold Toddy Oddy made with Cathead pecan vodka and spiced syrup and Porkchops & Applesauce, a pork-washed whiskey with apple and aromatic bitters. Then there’s her Caribbean-inspired Cajun Coquito, a blend of coconut, spiced and dark rum with citrus-forward Liqor 43 and homemade Coquito mix.
Further Uptown, Cure on Freret Street has long led the charge when it comes to innovative cocktails. For the season, there’s a daily punch, Waltz#2 is a spiced sparkler made with champagne, honey, pear and cardamom and A Die Hard Reference is a take on a Sazerac made with vanilla, dark chocolate and peppermint.
And it goes on from there. Everywhere you turn during the holiday season, from corner pubs to swank hotel bars and indie restaurants there’s a special cocktail just waiting to be tippled. To find out more, visit FollowYourJoy.com.