Forget Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras, the best time to go to New Orleans is the winter. While locals are chilly, December is actually fairly moderate with daytime highs in the 60s. A change from the summer when the heat and the humidity can be at brutal levels.
The chance of a white Christmas is, however, very low, but it’s incredibly fun to shop for last-minute holiday gifts in the French Quarter while sipping boozy to-go cups. But Nola’s drinks history is much more than just frosty concoctions, over-sized Hand Grenades and electric-red Hurricanes. In fact, the Vieux Carré, the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac are, amazingly, all local creations.
And beyond the Daiquiri bars along Bourbon Street, there are now a number of excellent joints to get a well-mixed drink. The turning point came in 2009, with the opening of Cure, which has done more than just about any other bar in the city to raise the quality of the cocktails in New Orleans. Located a few miles away from the Quarter in an old firehouse, the establishment helped usher in a new era in Nola drinking. Owners, Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal, have gone on to open several more bars and inspired a generation of bartenders.
Another of advantage of going to Nola now, is that Cure has a new menu of delicious drinks. Here are the five cocktails that you should try.
From the Bee’s Knees and Bramble to the Jack Rose, Cure offers dozens of beautifully executed classic cocktails. But the new winter menu also includes a number of creative original drinks, like the Picard that features a base of tea-infused tequila, Armagnac and rhum agricole.
Garnet & Gold
Maybe it’s the tropical temperatures, but Daiquiris are extremely popular in New Orleans. If you’re going to have one, try this wintery version of the traditional recipe with cranberry, five spice and caramelized dark sugar.
It’s hard to find a bar these days that isn’t serving a Negroni. The simple yet elegant mix of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, serves as inspiration for the Count Camillo that calls for amaro, Curaçao and Luxardo Bitter.
If you’ve gotten your fill of Eggnog, try the City Club that is made with a whole egg. The creamy and rich drink is like a boozy Thin Mint with dark chocolate bitters, the herbaceous Fernet-Branca and Evan Williams Bourbon.
If you want to skip right to dessert, try the Looking Glass that combines American brandy with peach liqueur. According to the menu, it’s the “liquid version of peach pie on the beach.”