Escaping dinner-table discourse? Home alone and anti-holiday? Or maybe you’re the full-on festive type who’s had their tree decorated since Black Friday. Whatever the case, ‘tis the season for a stiff one. Here’s where to drink your way through Christmas and the holiday season to celebrate—or avoid—the festivities this year. Eggnog and mulled wine—or coal cocktails and zero cheer—here we come.
If you’re more of a Buddy the Elf
We shudder to think of what Casa Vega’s electric bill looks like after the month of December. A kaleidoscope of floor-to-ceiling Christmas lights with garland and tinsel cover this throwback every holiday season, and have for more than 40 years—making it one of the most festive spots in town and a perfect perch for some classic and Mexican-inspired cocktails.
This Beverly Hills gem is reviving its 12 Days of Christmas menu, much to the delight of anyone who loves the idea of a boozy advent calendar. Each day, beginning December 13, find a different festive cocktail on offer—all at $12—counting down the days until Christmas. Sip punches and spiked eggnogs by the fire pit, or take in the festive décor inside.
You can find expert cocktails at Big Bar any time of the year, but during this season you can find multiple menus—and a bar staff clad in tacky holiday sweaters—to make your month a little more merry and bright. This year, the decked-out bar is slinging not one but two sets of drinks: the new winter cocktail menu—which includes so-seasonal concoctions such as the Fireside Chats (pictured here) and the California Winter—and the now-through-NYE holiday menu. It’s on the latter you can order cocktails like the Nog-a-Log, the Krampus Cocoa and the Gnome Alone. Don't skip the seasonal pastries at Alcove, next door.
Not only does the hotel’s bar, the Mixing Room, offer an entire menu of holiday cocktails, this year, the lobby’s centerpiece is a fully functioning 1,300-pound gingerbread bar called Santa’s Tavern. On select nights this month, the team will be offering free hot toddy and champagne tastings, plus giving away gingerbread cookies from behind the bar of the “tavern,” which, by the by, comes complete with its own gingerbread fireplace. Find more info right this way.
By now you’ve probably tried the NoMad’s food truck, where NYC Michaelin-starred chef Daniel Humm’s been previewing the food we might expect from the hugely anticipated L.A. NoMad Hotel. Fortunately, for those curious about the beverage program, we don’t have to wait until the early-2018 opening to get a taste of what's to come. Every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday through December 19, catch the NoMad’s beverage crew popping up at the Walker Inn. They’ll be slinging holiday-inspired drinks—all split into “naughty” and “nice” categories—at one of the city’s best cocktail bars, including a candy cane piña colada and a pumpkin-spiced mai tai. It’s a perfect, festive counterbalance to the Walker Inn’s own seasonal menu, but we’ve got more on that, below.
Now through New Year's Eve, this lounge transforms from Arts District hideaway to all-in North Pole watering hole with Miracle on Santa Fe, an entire month of tinsel, garlands, seasonal drinks, carolers, visits from Santa, and games (see also: Manischewitz-punch pong). One of 50 national offshoots of NYC’s original, kitsch-tacular pop-up—Miracle on Ninth Street—L.A.’s offers five additional cocktails to the “Miracle” brand’s standard 10. Plus, when you bring a quart bag of new travel-size hygiene products to donate to PATH, you’ll be greeted by a complimentary cup of punch; what’s not to love? Want more info on what to expect? We’ve got you covered.
If you’re more of a Scrooge
Trade one fictional being for another and ditch Santa for Bigfoot, where the pine trees are only there to make you feel like you’re in the damn woods. At both the Atwater Village and Palms locations of the perfectly kitschy Bigfoot Lodge, survive the holiday season without a guy in a red suit, but with the help of trivia nights, DJ sets, live music, stand-up and karaoke, not to mention daily specials and a low-lit cabin-like setting.
Without a doubt, Footsie’s Bar is one of our favorite dives—as well as Bad Santa’s (check out the film’s opening scene)—and it’s one so dimly lit you’ll barely be able to make out the decorations, not that there are many to begin with. The most festive this spot usually gets are dance parties of the “Joy Division to the World” variety, so grab a PBR tallboy and a hot toddy and dance or drink in the darkness. It’s also open until 2am daily, which means you can sneak off from your awkward holiday work parties and family obligations and still find this spot slinging cheap beer and charcoal-activated cocktails alike.
Forget the holly, the jolly and the mistletoe-toting bars, and opt for something darker, something brooding and something wholly sinister this season. 1886 Bar—which sits at the back of the Raymond—devotes this year’s winter menu to all things macabre with its “The Final Solstice” cocktails, delivering 11 drinks that signal what each of their bartenders thinks of when they hear the word “endtimes.” Whether you’re sipping on a Replicant, the Zombie Apocalypse, the Plagues of Egypt or the Dreamcatcher (named for Stephen King’s novel, naturally), you’ll be far from the cheery, feel-good revelry—and consumed by the end of the world.
Give in to your inner bah-humbugs and spend the season with the Grinch and Hans Gruber. Expect mixology magic and a little bit of festivity-focused ire from the Walker Inn, the Normandie Club’s speakeasy, as they bring back their beloved “Holiday Scoundrels” cocktail menu, now through New Year’s. These thoughtful, intricate and outrageously fun drinks named after holiday-movie villains and antiheroes will make you want to root for the bad guys (and order the whole menu). Drink with the scoundrels Wednesdays through Saturdays, including Cousin Eddy, the Sticky Bandits and more. If you’re feeling festive, don’t forget that you can stop by for the NoMad pop-up all other nights of the week.