3 of a Kind: Holiday Cocktails
3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.
With the holiday season in full swing, bars across America are creating festive vibes with whimsical winter cocktails. The temperatures are dropping, making it the perfect time for eggnogs, mulled wines and punches. Beyond those warming staples, bartenders are getting creative with their wintry concoctions by pulling in innovative ingredients and putting together playful presentations. Here are a few places to sip spirits merrily.
Arts District newcomer Westbound had already been generating buzz with its craft cocktails and late-night brownies, but the bar has recently transformed into a full-blown holiday hot spot, thanks to its seasonal pop-up, Miracle on Santa Fe. Westbound partnered with New York-based barware company Cocktail Kingdom to turn the space into a winter wonderland, complete with fake snow, holiday-appropriate entertainment like Sugarplum dancers and, of course, cheery cocktails served in joy-inciting vessels. The Bad Santa, a hot-milk punch filled with rum, rum and more rum, comes in a jolly Santa mug. The Clove Actually, a vodka cocktail with sherry, clove syrup, lemon and gingerbread beer, is served in a shiny bronze gnome cup. And for those who want to take their night up a notch, naughty and nice shots are also available.
Nestled in a “wing and gable” house that dates back to 1895, Icenhauer’s is a swank yet homey spot that seems tailor-made for kicking back with a cocktail in hand. Settle into one of the bar’s midcentury modern armchairs with a drink from the seasonal menu to really get into the holiday spirit. Each cocktail was made with a festive film in mind. “Everyone loves a good holiday movie,” says Icenhauer's general manager Stuart Thompson, who notes that classics such as Miracle on 34th Street and Elf have served as inspiration for the bar’s spirited concoctions. Thompson’s favorite is the Thurman’s Merman, a Bad Santa reference made with clove-infused bourbon, cranberry liqueur, Angostura bitters and brut champagne. “The sparkling wine tops it off and gives it a good finish,” he says. For a creamier option, order the You'll Shoot Your Eye Out! Candy cane-infused, double-chocolate vodka is combined with Bailey's Irish Cream to create this indulgent drink whose name is a cheeky nod to A Christmas Story.
Mother of Pearl in New York City’s East Village is already a go-to for over-the-top cocktails. Beverage director Jane Danger’s tiki-tinged concoctions are some of the most-beautifully garnished in the city. For the holiday season, Danger has put together a Candyland-inspired cocktail menu that harks back to your childhood game night. Channel the season’s good cheer by choosing a festive option from the game-board menu brimming with color-named drinks. Purple comprises mulled hibiscus, orange, lime and a navy-strength rum blend. Blue brings together coconut, vanilla bean, a dry curacao blend and lemon. The tropical holiday vibe carries over to the decor, which channels Polynesia by way of a tiki-decorated Christmas tree.
Westwood and Mother of Pearl photography courtesy of Natalie B. Compton and Icenhauer’s photography courtesy of Elizabeth Icenhauer