Getting in the holiday SPIRITS

November 01, 2019
Cocktails and the holidays go together like lap sitting and St. Nick. Whether you celebrate with the pop of a champagne cork or a drink crafted for the season, cheers abound at this most festive time of year. Pop that cork at one of these New Orleans bars for a holiday experience both naughty and nice.

Carousel Bar
214 Royal St.

New Orleanians know that when the holidays commence, carnival season is just around the corner. What better place to celebrate than around (and around) the Carousel Bar, a pillar of the Hotel Monteleone, the elegant hotel founded by Antonio Monteleone in 1886. The bar’s ambulation dates to 1949, when the rotating carousel was installed. The 25-seat rotating bar makes one rotation every 15 minutes--just about the right amount of time to polish off a strong cocktail. Make it a Twelfth Night–the official day that carnival begins–a luscious take on the French 75 featuring Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, fresh lime juice, agave syrup and of course, bubbles.

Bar Marilou
544 Carondelet St.

What sexy Bar Marilou is not is a hotel bar, although it is right next door to Maison de la Luz, the first U.S. boutique hotel from Atelier Ace. The hotel is not open to the public–but guests can slip into the gorgeous neighboring establishment through a secret door hidden behind a bookcase. Other mortals enter through a wrought iron side gate, a portal into a world of Parisian decadence. The drink list comes by way of The Quixotic Projects, the brain trust behind red hot Parisian bars and restaurants like Candelaria, Hero and Le Mary Celeste. As you settle in against the bordello red velvet backdrop, celebrate the season with a beautifully composed Jardin de Meme, which gets its green hue from chartreuse and basil, shaken with St. Germain and a dash of absinthe. Aquafaba, standing in for the egg whites, supplies the creamy foam on top.

Belle Epoque
240 Bourbon St.

Go into the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon and head towards the back. You want the gold door, to the right of the fireplace. Open it and walk into Belle Epoque, a beautiful new absinthe bar run by Laura Bellucci, a bar maven who most recently commanded the bar at SoBou. Against a backdrop of faux green walls, tufted leather sofas, and lovingly restored 19th century crystal absinthe fountains, inspired drinks are poured. With the Green Fairy as her inspiration, Bellucci’s cocktails set a high bar, and chef Hayley Vanvleet tempts with creative French-inspired treats. Order a Lafitte Suissesse, the palest green creamy concoction made with Emerald Absinthe, Herbsaint, gin, crème de cocoa and Giffard Orgeat. Served in an elegant coupe glass, “it’s a foamy, creamy little guy,” says Bellucci. A grating of nutmeg and expressed orange peel adds the perfect finishing note.

The Franklin
2600 Dauphine St. (In The Marigny)

Who knew that libations could be so lofty? The drink list at the drop-dead gorgeous French-ish restaurant holding down the upriver corner of Dauphine at Franklin in the Marigny is just divine. The Franklin is all about a commitment to fine spirits, fresh ingredients, and plenty of precision, all of which go into the making of the Gustavo, a smoky shake of mezcal–the bacon of tequila–tinted green with bell pepper, spicy jalapeno and cucumber syrup, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Enjoy with raw oysters, always on the menu, and enjoy the elegant setting worthy of chef Dane Harris’ refined French-inspired seasonal cuisine.

Sazerac Bar
130 Roosevelt Way

Worship at the altar of sazerac at the impeccable Sazerac Bar in the gorgeous Roosevelt Hotel, where the 19th century original recipe is favored. Duck in from the lobby, which shimmers with what seems like millions of holiday lights and sit at the simply elegant African walnut bar bordered by original Paul Ninas' murals. As good as the Sazerac is-smoky, slightly sweet with just an insinuation of bitterness–bartender Matthew Seaman offers something so seasonal it’s tough to resist. Order Santa’s Candy Cane, an eye-popping minty dessert drink of heavy cream, Rumple Minze, and white crème de cacao. The wow is in the presentation–a chilled martini glass is striped with raspberry syrup; a connection made even clearer by the candy cane dangling off the rim.