Christmas time is here, not that you’d know it from the weather outside. But that’s one of the challenges of living in Los Angeles, right? How to infuse your day-to-day with holiday cheer even when, at first blush, it just looks like every other day of the year. One idea: cocktails!
A bevy of local restaurants and bars are crafting seasonal drinks for happy hour, pre-dinner and late nights. Options are all over the place, from eggnogs to Old Fashioneds, tequila spritzers to bubbly. Some of L.A.’s best cocktail creators are stepping up their game to infuse a little winter spirit into 72 and sunny.
So gather with a couple of friends, sample a few of the libations below, and make a toast to the new year. Santa would definitely approve.
1. Westbound (Downtown Los Angeles)
DTLA’s Westbound hosts “Miracle on Santa Fe” all throughout December, A take on NYC’s original Miracle on 9th Street, Westbound’s pop-up holiday bar stands on its own with a month-long festive holiday cocktail menu, over-the-top holiday music, decor, lights, stockings, nutcrackers and a massive Christmas tree and two-foot tall menorah. But what about the drinks? Enjoy Christmas flavors and cocktails like Czech It Twice (Becherovka Herbal Liquour, cream of coconut, OJ, pineapple and bitters) Cotton Headed Niny Muggins (Elyx Vodka, Fino sherry, vanilla, falernum and lemon juice), Snowball Old Fashioned, How The Gimlet Stole Christmas and a Christmopolitan. -> More information
2. Good Housekeeping (Highland Park)
Good Housekeeping in Highland Park hosts a Wednesday night (December 20 & December 27) “Nightmare Before Christmas” pop-up cocktail menu. Bar Director Alex Barbatsis and Head Bartender Lauren Pool are serving some delightful cocktails worthy of Christmas Town. The Cranberries “Zombie” is Christmas in a glass, served with a bright red bow, and made with Old Tom Gin, Spiced Cranberry, fresh lemon juice, and tonic. For those craving eggnog, try the Pumpkin King Eggnog, made with Rittenhouse Rye, Smith & Cross Rum, eggs, sugar, cream, and pumpkin spice. Finally, for those wanting a little bubbly, sip on Carnival of Souls, made with blanco tequila, lemon, bubble gum syrup, sparkling Cava, and topped with cotton candy. -> More information
3. Big Bar (Los Feliz)
Cari Hah, Big Bar’s bar manager and resident tiger mom, has dreamed up an impressive selection of seasonal delights. In fact there are three different menus: One for the winter at-large, one for the holidays, and one just for New Year’s Eve. A favorite on the winter menu is the Plums Away featuring plum tea, Smooth Ambler whiskey, and Monkey Shoulder scotch rounded out by ginger beer and foam. And the award for cutest cocktail in L.A. (winter 2017) has go to the Fireside Chats, a flavorful blend of brown butter washed Tequila Tapatío reposado, Highland Park Magnus scotch, Benedictine, Smith & Cross rum, Miracle Mile Toasted Pecan Bitters, and Angostura bitters, all served on a faux bearskin rug. The holiday cocktail menu features six drinks including the Nog a Log made with toasted coconut Jack Daniels You could also try the Gnome Alone, the Hot Cider House Rules, or Krampus cocoa. Finally, a special menu will be available on New Year’s Eve only, as Big Bar will throw a nautical-themed party to ring in 2018. -> More information
4. The Raymond 1886 (Pasadena)
The Raymond 1886 honors the macabre with a tribunal Final Solstice Cocktail Menu. Sip on a Zombie Apocalypse, created by Jesus Gomez and Adam Vaughn, which is an elevated Tiki classic comprised of a blend of whiskeys (Deanston 12, Bowmore 15, Laphroaig 10) mixed with Orgeat, Falernum and house-made lemongrass syrup, pineapple and lime juices, and mint. Inspiring imbibers to get in touch with their brooding side, the drink is topped with a special zombie apocalypse garnish. The Final Solstice Cocktail menu will feature eleven different drinks on the menu. -> More information
5. The Walker Inn (Koreatown)
The Walker Inn, a cozy speakeasy tucked inside The Hotel Normandie, has a pop-up Holiday Scoundrel menu now until NYE. This year’s holiday selection is both “naughty” and “nice” featuring a candy cane pina colada, a pumpkin-spiced Mai Tai, the Heat Miser, and the Grinch. More information
6. ROKU + Sushi Roku (Multiple Locations)
Whether you are in WEHO or in SAMO, ROKU and Sushi Roku respectively, will make you feel merry over the holidays. Each bar is mixing new winter cocktails for guests to sip and mingle. At ROKU, bartenders offer Silent Smoke, a warm blend of El Silencio mezcal with Japanese yuzu (citrus fruit in the family Rutaceae) and fresh winter grapefruit. On the other side of town at Sushi Roku, they’ll be serving a Ginger Snap which fuses Wild Turkey honey whiskey, ginger, Peuchaud’s bitters, lemon and mint.
7. Casa Vega (Sherman Oaks)
Casa Vega has a new pomegranate and ginger paloma specifically for the holiday season. Designed by Christy Vega, the restaurant’s second generation owner, this festive cocktail is made with 1800 Silver Tequila, ginger beer, grapefruit juice, lime and fresh pomegranates. Keeping up with Casa Vega’s 61-year tradition, you can get all of the Christmas feels at the bar, which is decked out with a ton of tinsel, lights and cheery decor. -> More information
8. THE FLATS (Beverly Hills)
THE FLATS has a seasonal cocktail menu to warm up any Scrooge. Head barman Shaun Summers has collaborated with Template Consulting’s Marcos Tello to blend top shelf spirits with local ingredients. Notables include the Carrot White Russian crafted with vodka, espresso liqueur and carrot cream, and the Blood Orange Margarita made with Mescal, blood orange Curacao, fresh lime and blood orange juice. -> More information
9. Bar Tintotera (Silver Lake)
Mezcal is the special ingredient for Bar Tintotera’s holiday cocktails. The Silver Lake restaurant and xbar is making a Mezcal Verde using mezcal, ancho reyes, peppermint, an aperol appertif and fresh lime juice. The mezcal and ancho reyes together give the drink a slightly smoky piquancy, while the peppermint and fresh lime makes this beverage refreshing. Tintotera is known for its exclusive selection of agave distillates including raicilla from Southwestern Mexico, Bacanora of Sonora, Mexico and Sotol distilled in Northern Mexico. -> More information
10. WP24 (Downtown Los Angeles)
Head Downtown to the Ritz-Carlton for seasonal drinks and a spectacular view of Los Angeles at WP24. Be nice with Brown Sugar, a specialty cocktail of Courvoisier V.S. Cognac, Busnel V.S.O.P., Calvados, Cointreau Orange Liqueur, Demerara and lemon, or get a little naughty by sipping Love Lust Lace, a citrus champagne cocktail made with Grand Marnier, Angostura, lemon bitters and brown sugar. WP24 is also offering Cozy Cabana service featuring privacy, plush throws, pillows and a cabana butler pouring a seasonal punch. An Asian-inspired caviar-tasting menu is offered as well. Cabanas must be reserved, and available for $300. -> More information
11. THE Blvd (Beverly Hills)
THE Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire has a legendary atmosphere for holiday cheers. The illuminated onyx bar and where-to-see-and-be-seen patio provides the setting, while four distinct seasonal cocktails are available to quench your thirst. First is the Festive Ol’ Fashion created with a house-spiced Glenmorangie 10, Angostura bitters and charred cinnamon. Next is an elegant Sparkling Ford comprised of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne, homemade cranberry syrup and fresh cranberries, Then… An Apple A Day…made with Hennessy VSOP Cognac, homemade apple cinnamon syrup, fresh lemon, and Gala apple. Finally there’s a warming Ginger Bee with Ron Zacapa 23yr rum, homemade ginger syrup and honey. The drink specials run now through Christmas from 6 to 8 p.m. Guests can also catch a snowfall and taste roasted chestnuts during this time. -> More information
12. The Proud Bird (Westchester)
The Proud Bird’s Mile High Club Bar and Lounge is an ideal layover destination for wintery cocktails. Whether you are arriving, outbound, or with holiday visitors in tow, two cocktails you’ll want to try at this bar are Great Balls of Fire Cider (hard cider, amaretto, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, apple, caramel and cinnamon rim) and a Pumpkin Spiked Latte (Starbucks PSL and Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey). The Mile High Club Bar is adjacent to LAX which makes it a perfect stopping point before or after flight. No passports needed here. -> More information
13. E.P. & L.P. (West Hollywood)
Share a beautiful California Christmas overlooking the Hollywood Hills and the Sunset Strip with your favorite people at E.P. & L.P.’s rooftop bar. E.P. & L.P. Beverage Director Dustin Shaw has a winter cocktail called Holy Smokes, featuring extreme festive vibes courtesy of baking spice notes and apple bitters. This hand-crafted cocktail is made with Ilegal Joven Mezcal, Velvet Falernum, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, Dashfire Spiced Apple bitters, honey, lime juice and garnished with grated cinnamon and a sprig of rosemary. -> More information
14. Clifton’s Republic (Downtown Los Angeles)
Clifton’s Republic is the oldest surviving cafeteria-style eatery in Los Angeles. They’ll offer a signature eggnog for the holiday season crafted by Cocktail Ambassador Beau du Bois. The rich and creamy drink is made of Demerara Rum, cognac and traditional ingredients including vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cream and egg. -> More information
15. Source Craft Cocktails
Lastly, for those entertaining at home, Sourced Craft Cocktails is a local company that delivers a custom cocktail experience. These guys offer an extensive menu of spirits. They bring you everything you need — the recipes, spirits, ingredients, knowledge, barware, proper ice cubes and even mixologists at request. Or, if you want to leave it all to an expert, Cocktail Academy services both private and public clients that include Victoria’s Secret and Netflix. They’ll come to you and make unique holiday cocktails everyone will enjoy. Think, Mezcal Eggnog with shaved smoked chocolate chip cookies. Cheers!