Where To Sip LA's Best Winter Holiday Cocktails
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Maybe not for your wallet or your waistline or your ability to stay calm around your COVID-denying, anti-mask wackadoo relatives. But it is the most wonderful time of the year!! It really is!!! And if it isn't, at least we have boozy winter and holiday-themed cocktails. Sip frozen hot chocolate, a pomegranate margarita or peanut butter and banana nog. Need to warm up? Try a soul-warming Irish coffee or a hot tequila cider. With California's loosened takeout alcohol laws, many bars and restaurants are offering a wealth of wintry libations to-go.
Akasha's Light the Menorah
For the second year, Akasha's annual Vodka and Latkes Hanukkah menu is available for takeout and it includes four holiday cocktails (12-ounce bottles, $25 each). Choose from the Jelly Doughnut with apricot jam and cranberry-infused vodka or the Light the Menorah, a take on a lavender lemon drop.
- 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City.
AOC's Christmas Vacation
The Brentwood and 3rd Street locations of Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's restaurant, AOC, just debuted winter cocktails by new head barman Ignacio Murillo. His Christmas Vacation ($16) — made with tequila, mezcal, pomegranate, house velvet falernum and lime — is an homage to his grandmother who used to make a punch with pomegranate juice, cinnamon and cloves. His grandfather was the rascal who topped it with tequila. “I knew I wanted to recreate something similar for the holidays," Murillo says. "To get that great spicy component, I made a house velvet falernum — a traditional Caribbean liqueur that adds zippy flavors of clove, ginger, and allspice — to the drink."
- 8700 West 3rd St., Beverly Grove.
- 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood.
Bar Bohémien's Winter Solstice
Take in the sunset and atop Culver City's Citizen Public Market while sipping this refreshing Bar Bohémien cocktail. Made with vodka, pear juice, spiced pear liqueur, lemon and soda, the Winter Solstice ($15) goes down easy and is perfect for quenching that post-shopping spree thirst.
- 9355 Culver Blvd., Culver City.
Big Bar's Strawberry Nog
For an L.A. holiday vibe, Big Bar's Strawberry Nog ($16), made with strawberry brandy, is meant to be enjoyed on an 80-degree December day. If you're looking for something to take home, Big Bar has brought back its holiday cocktail kits, which were popular last year. Their martini, Old Fashioned and mezcal margarita kits make a great hostess gift, even if you're only hosting yourself. Baby, if it's cold outside, grab a seat at the Los Feliz bar and order a hot toddy, an Irish coffee or a hot tequila cider.
- 1929 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz.
Corner Door's Grandma's Marmalade
Corner Door is reopening on November 27 but only on Fridays and Saturdays, at least for now. The Culver City spot is decked out in festive decor and serves eggnog, mulled wine as well as original cocktails. We're partial to Grandma's Marmalade ($15), a mix of bourbon, lemon, rosemary, marmalade and orange-maple foam.
- 12477 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City.
El Granjero Cantina's Tis the Season Margarita
Holiday shopping is thirsty work. Take a margarita break at El Granjero Cantina in the Original Farmers Market. The casual Mexican restaurant, which has Redbird ties, is conveniently located where the market ends and the Grove begins. It's celebrating the holidays with a five-drink menu featuring a Tis the Season Margarita ($15) with mezcal, pomegranate, grapefruit and Grand Marnier. There's also the Mrs. Claus' Martini with blanco tequila, coffee liqueur and pumpkin spice syrup.
- 6333 W. 3rd St., Fairfax.
Employees Only's Scout’s Honor
It doesn't feel like Christmas without peppermint. Employees Only has just the thing. Its Scout's Honor ($17) drink is a potent and decadent mixture of scotch, bourbon, mint Fernet and orange bitters topped with a citrus cream float and dark chocolate shavings.
- 7953 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood.
Fanny's LA Confidential
Since fall is a great time for Black Mission figs, Fanny's at the Academy Museum makes them into a jam. Then, barman Julian Cox uses it for his LA Confidential ($19), a cozy vodka drink with cinnamon and nutmeg. "Barrel-aged bitters also add complexity and more warming flavors, reinforcing the whimsical feel of holiday eating and drinking," Cox says.
- 6067 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile.
Genever's Summerbabe (Winter Version)
Inspired by the old Pavement song, bar director Kelso Norris created a seasonal White Negroni variation. "I feel like the title is perfect for Los Angeles, where our winter is like the most beautiful summer everywhere else," she says. She describes the flavor profile as warm citrus, saffron, ginger and EG Xmas Gin, which "gives it an extra wintery boost with frankincense and myrrh."
- 3123 Beverly Blvd., Historic Filipinotown.
Here & Now's Eight Crazy Nights
Holiday pop-up Blitzen's has once again taken over DTLA bar Here & Now with snow flurries on the patio, live carolers and holiday burlesque. Fueling the festivities are cocktails such as Eight Crazy Nights ($16), made with tequila, East India Solera sherry, hibiscus warm fruit punch and orange.
- 300 S Santa Fe Ave., Suite N, Downtown L.A..
If it's an L.A. winter, it might be too hot to sip a steaming cup of mulled wine. Thankfully, Hippo in Highland Park has turned the traditional holiday tipple into a refreshing spritz. Blotto ($14) is made with the usual suspects — seasonal spices, a bold red wine and dry curaçao. But where it earns its name is that boost of vodka and cava.
- 5916 1/2 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park.
Lanea's Mistletoe Mule
Take a load off and pull up to the bartop at this Third Street Promenade-adjacent bar where you can fuel up on tacos, holiday tamales and tequila. For a holiday pick-me-up, order Lanea's mistletoe-garnished mule comprised of vodka, mezcal, lime and cold pressed ginger.
- 217 Broadway, Santa Monica.
Lilly Rose's World's Best Cup of Coffee
If you're a fan of Elf, the best Christmas movie ever, you're going to love this drink. Lilly Rose at The Wayfarer Downtown L.A. has included a boozy nod to Buddy (Will Ferrell) on its holiday menu, which features 12 seasonal libations. This bourbon cold-brew coffee cocktail is sweetened with maple syrup and garnished with "chocolate spaghetti," just how Buddy would have made it.
- 813 Flower St., Downtown L.A.
Lock & Key's Peanut Butter and Banana Nog
Bored with traditional eggnog? Lock & Key in Koreatown offers an unusual take starring two lunchbox faves, peanut butter and bananas, powered by Caribbean rum. If nog's not your thing, there's also a Cindy Lou Who vodka and cranberry drink served in a coupe.
- 239 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown.
Lost Cove's Holiday Tiki Gift Sets
Improve any holiday party drink situation with Lost Cove's hot buttered rum gift set ($45). The kit comes with a 375ml bottle of rum, a half pint of Lost Cove hot buttered rum batter as well as a rum barrel mug, Christmas straws and stirrers. There's also a kit ($65) with a trio of nog, a Dark & Stormy variation, that tub of hot buttered rum batter and ginger beer.
- 609 N. La Brea Ave., Fairfax.
Melrose Umbrella Co's Eggnog
If you're looking for one of the best eggnogs in town, stop by Melrose Umbrella Co where the ethos is "the best ingredients make the best drinks." You can't go wrong with an eggnog featuring a bourbon-cognac-rum blend, Madagascar vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg ($14). Take a seat by the fireplace or on the outdoor patio and enjoy. Or grab a 32-ounce jar ($35) to go.
- 7465 Melrose Ave., Fairfax.
The Ordinarie's On Dasher
This year, Long Beach tavern The Ordinarie is the only bar in L.A. County doing Miracle, a national Christmas-themed cocktail pop-up bar with holiday-inspired drinks served in fun glassware, such as a T.rex wearing a Santa hat. For the pop-up, try the On Dasher ($16), a new drink that combines gin, vanilla liqueur, toasted marshmallow, cardamom, black pepper, lemon, cream and egg, topped with soda. The pop-up runs Nov. 26 -Dec. 30. Make your reservation now.
- 210 The Promenade N., Long Beach.
Downtown's Redbird just debuted its new holiday cocktails ($16 each), a diverse collection of traditional and modern drinks. You can go old-school Christmas with a Tom & Jerry, coquito or glogg or you can try a new aquavit take on the Appletini. Stop by at the bar during happy hour (Wednesday-Friday 5-7pm) and a few of the drinks are $10.
- 114 E Second St., Downtown L.A.
Ronan's After the Frost
Ronan After the Frost winter cocktail ($15) is meant to evoke an early winter morning on a farm where the scents of grass, fruit and vegetables are muted by the frost. That's a lot to ask for a drink but the combo of vodka, Aperol, blanc vermouth, lime, pressed grape and celery leaf has a subtle fruitiness anchored by vegetal undertones.
- 7315 Melrose Ave., Fairfax.
Sparrow's Ama La Vita
Hotel Figueroa's new Sparrow restaurant boasts beautiful drinks and this season it presents the winter-inspired Ama La Vita ($17). The rum and amaro cocktail, created by beverage director Carla Lorenzo, features Earl Grey honey, allspice dram, apple butter and winter spices.
- 939 S. Figueroa St. Suite 200, Downtown L.A.
Upstairs' Frozen Hot Chocolate
When it's warm out, the last thing you want is a scalding hot chocolate. So how about a frozen one? The version at Upstairs ($13), Ace Hotel DTLA's rooftop bar, will cool you down and it's made with coconut milk and coconut cream instead of milk. Don't skip vegan whipped cream topping.
- 929 S. Broadway, Downtown L.A.