The Basics Drinking Out

11 Holiday Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now

Milk Money at Watershed Kitchen + Bar in Columbus, Ohio. Image: Greg Davis

The best holiday drink menus evoke the flavors of the season, from the comforts of ginger and baking spices to the decadence of chocolate and coffee. These bars and restaurants across the country do just that, going above and beyond to deliver the gift of good drink. These are the 11 holiday cocktails to drink in bars now.

Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great holiday drinks? Try making The Morning After from this list at home.

  • The Morning After (The Barrow House, Clifton, N.J.)

    The Barrow House

    Egg-topped pizzas, pot pies and lobster mac ’n’ cheese define The Barrow House, a modern tavern in a rustic wood-and-stone barn-like building in Clifton, N.J. Lead bartender Shawn Gorga created this bold after-dinner cocktail that sings of wintery holidays with a caffeinated twist. Camus Intensely Aromatic Very Special cognac gains subtle bitter and earthy layers from Averna amaro and Mr. Black coffee liqueur. Look for chile spice, earthiness and chocolate undertones from Xila chile liqueur, cold-brew coffee and chocolate bitters.

  • Thief’s Alibi (Tavernetta, Denver)

    Virginia Miller

    Tavernetta is arguably Denver’s most world-class restaurant, with fine-dining-worthy pasta, crudo, dishes and an impressive wine list. Cocktails are likewise expertly crafted and delicious. The Thief’s Alibi starts with a Wheatley vodka and Vecchio Amaro del Capo base, with minty-anise notes of the amaro enhanced by ginger, coconut cream, turmeric and black pepper, lush with egg white.

  • Champagne & Chai (Henley, Nashville)

    Emily Dorio

    At Nashville’s Henley, chef Daniel Gorman works with local farmers to shape his Southern-influenced menu, featuring dishes like tasso ham spring rolls or “duck & dumplings” (duck confit and gnocchi). Head bartender and Nashville native Benjamin Rouse continues the seasonally inspired theme in his cocktails, like the Champagne & Chai. Both bubbly and silky, the Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac-based cocktail gains texture from his spiced squash cordial of lightly roasted squash, pureed and laced with chai spices, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, sugar and salt, then fortified with vodka. Allspice dram and ginger syrup further embolden the chai spices, while lemon juice brings acidic balance.

  • Hathor’s Pumpkin (Michael Mina, San Francisco)

    Virginia Miller

    At the original Michael Mina restaurant, lead bartender Anthony Attanasio serves inspired winter cocktails like the Hathor’s Pumpkin, which calls on pumpkin-infused Chairman’s Reserve rum, allspice dram and a house peppercorn syrup. The pumpkin’s silky texture is even more silky with fluffy egg white, while lemon keeps it bright and not cloying.

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  • Earl of Puffin (Pesce, Washington, D.C.)

    Andrew LaPorta

    D.C. seafood destination Pesce showcases what’s fresh on the daily chalkboard menu from chef Andrew LaPorta. They carry it on in the drink side with a Lambay Irish whiskey cocktail. Lambay is aged in Camus cognac barrels on a tiny Irish island where coastal breezes and sea air impart briny flavor profiles—the right kind of partner with seafood. Floral, malty, nutty and subtly sweet, Pesce’s Earl of Puffin cocktail marries the whiskey’s cognac notes with Earl Grey tea and rosy hibiscus syrup for a wintery refresher.

  • Flavor Basket (Aziza, San Francisco)

    Virginia Miller

    Michelin-starred chef Mourad Lahlou revived his longtime original restaurant, Aziza, this October in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond. Lahlou’s ever-brilliant Cal-Moroccan food is enhanced by a Mediterranean-heavy wine list and cocktails like the Flavor Basket. It’s like Cal-Mediterranean winter (with Uncle Val’s gin and Italicus bergamot liqueur) meets a crisp, cool Scandinavian winter (with a touch of aquavit), layered with nutty-floral orgeat, lime and Peychaud’s bitters.

  • Emperor’s Horchata (SaltRock Kitchen, Sedona, Ariz.)

    Salt Rock Kitchen

    Sedona’s Amara Resort & Spa houses SaltRock Kitchen, with stunning red rocks views from an outdoor patio and dishes like carnitas tacos and forbidden rice-stuffed squash. Head bartender Eddy Rocha’s cocktails call on the seasons and his Mexican heritage in the Emperor’s Horchata. He steeps the rice milk base with cinnamon, vanilla and forbidden rice, which imparts a vibrant purple hue. The horchata is mixed with Plantation rum, cognac and Licor 43 for subtle citrus notes, all milk-washed for a silky-smooth texture.

  • Fire & Ice (Hotel Jerome, Aspen, Colo.)

    Hotel Jerome

    Sink into leather or velvet armchairs and sofas by the fire at The Living Room at Hotel Jerome in Aspen where they serve different flavored hot chocolates by Hotel Jerome’s pastry chef Benjamin Kunert. Or go the boozy route and try the Fire & Ice, for a spirituous play on their popular hot chocolate. They warm rum in a Turkish coffee pot alongside hot chocolate, a marshmallow and a scoop of chocolate sorbet in a mug. Then flaming rum is poured into the mug and dusted with cinnamon, while the uniquely heat-resistant chocolate sorbet does not immediately melt when doused with hot rum.

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  • Hacienda Flip (The Nest at Thompson Seattle)

    Thompson Seattle

    On a clear day, you can see the Olympic mountain range from the rooftop of The Nest at Thompson Seattle hotel. As you gaze over Pike Place Market and Elliott Bay, snack on bar bites like shrimp Louie lettuce cups or local oysters. Fireplaces keep it cozy in the winter, ideal for a Hacienda Flip. With its base of Roca Patrón añejo tequila, Patrón XO coffee liqueur and Mancino secco vermouth, the drink takes on a full-flip-creaminess with a whole egg. Cinnamon and mole spices make it a tribute to a Mexican winter.

  • Give Me S’more (Hell or High Water, Louisville, Ky.)

    Jonathan Cherry

    Louisville’s romantic multiroom Hell or High Water is a cozy holiday choice with its red velvets, dark woods and multiple nooks and corners. The Give Me S'more cocktail begs for chilly nights and childlike delight, inspired by the beloved campfire dessert. Bar manager Sean Gardner mixes bourbon and cacao liqueur with orange, coriander, Frangelico and a biscotti cookie and marshmallow for a S’mores-meets-chocolate-pastry flavor profile.

  • Milk Money (Watershed Kitchen & Bar, Columbus, Ohio)

    Milk Money at Watershed Kitchen + Bar in Columbus, Ohio. Greg Davis

    This clarified milk punch from beverage director Joshua Gandee celebrates the holidays with a two-day prep process, steeping orange and lemon zest, vanilla, cloves, cardamom, allspice, coriander, star anise in Watershed’s Bourbon Barrel gin and Nocino, mixed with fresh lemon and orange juices, Earl Grey tea and cinnamon milk. Served in a glass milk bottle over crushed ice, the drink is topped with soda water and a paper straw.