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The Best Holiday Drinks In LA, Circa 2018

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Every year in the autumn months, we're bombarded with seasonal drinks. Here is a small -- by no means exhaustive and highly subjective -- list of a few of them.

Dark Chocolate Orange Mocha - Peet's
Starbucks is a coffee chain for people who don't actually like coffee. At this point, it's basically a purveyor of milkshakes and flavored syrups. -- and I have no problem with that. But I want caffeine in my coffee so I go to Peet's, the Norcal-based chain that owns Stumptown and Intelligentsia. Their Dark Chocolate Orange Mocha isn't simply the best holiday beverage I've tried this year. It is the Best Holiday Beverage In The History Of The World, no hyperbole whatsoever. Why? Because orange and dark chocolate is my favorite flavor combo ever and has been since I tried Swiss Orange Chip ice cream at Swensen's when I was five years old. I think Peet's invented this beverage just for me... and maybe you.

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Cookie Butter Latte -- The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

One moment, you'd never heard of speculoos. The next, it was in everything at Trader Joe's -- cookies, candy bars, ice cream, salad dressing. CBTL has done a fine job translating the hard-to-describe flavor into a warm, wintry beverage.

Cranberry White Mocha -- Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen

Fruity yet holidayish, this is a great seasonal drink that plays on winter flavors without making them overbearing. The Windsor Hills cafe also makes a mean gingerbread latte.

The Sexual Chocolate cocktail at E.P. & L.P. (Courtesy of E.P. & L.P.)

Sexual Chocolate -- E.P. & L.P.

The rooftop at this fancy West Hollywood spot is a good place to sip this twist on a Mexican hot chocolate, created by bartender Sergio Gonzalez. It's Café de Olla spiked with spiced rum, coffee liqueur, coffee bitters, amaro, cinnamon syrup, cacao powder, chocolate, almond milk, and torched marshmallows.

Holiday Scoundrels -- The Walker Inn

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In Koreatown inside the Normandie Club, there's a secret back door that leads to the Walker Inn. If you make it into the speakeasy, you can try its Holiday Scoundrels cocktail menu. I haven't actually tried them, because these days, I almost never drink anywhere besides my apartment, but they sound great: "Thoughtful, intricate and outrageously fun drinks named after holiday-movie villains and antiheroes." They're available Wednesdays through Saturdays, until New Year's.

Eggnog -- The Hungry Cat

I'm not a big eggnog fan -- but the once or twice a year I drink the stuff, I want it to taste like a high-octane, liquid Snickers bar. Hungry Cat's version, using a recipe from chef/owner David Lentz's dad, hits the spot. You'll pay $12 for a glass, or $40 for a 1-liter bottle. It's a helluva lot more than what you pay for a grocery store eggnog, but this stuff is a helluva lot better than those thick, gluey concoctions.

Peppermint Bark MilkQuake -- Milk Bar

Since opening an outpost in L.A. in September, Milk Bar keeps cranking out the hits. For those who prefer something sweet and cold, they're offering a limited-edition milkshake made with Cereal Milk soft-serve, peppermint pieces, hot fudge, and double chocolate cookies, topped with a mini candy cane. Baby, it's cold inside.

Whole Pint Milkshakes -- Salt & Straw

The Portland-based chain with outposts in downtown L.A., Studio City, West Hollywood, Venice and Larchmont will happily make you one of their whole pint milkshakes with any of their holiday flavors, which include Sugar Plum Fairy, Cinnamon Coconut Eggnog, Gingerbread Cookie Dough, Apple Brandy & Pecan Pie, Peppermint Bark Cocoa.

Circa 1850: Mr. Micawber making punch after the dinner party given for him by David Copperfield in the novel "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens. Artist: Fred Barnard. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Blood Of Your Enemies

The quality of mercy is not strained -- unless it involves squeezing fresh limes into a boozy libation. This holiday season, if you aren't lucky enough to see your adversaries brought low, make this drink and pretend.

I spotted the recipe for this delicious gingery pomegranate punch years ago in Real Simple and I've been making it ever since. I like to sip it slowly and visualize my enemies devastated and weeping. Oh... is that just me...?



  • 4 cups pomegranate juice, chilled
  • 4 cups vodka, chilled
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 cups ginger beer, chilled
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced


  • In a large bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, vodka, and lime juice.
  • Chill for up to 12 hours.
  • Just before serving, add the ginger beer, pomegranate seeds, and lime slices.

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