This January, explore New Orleans’ newest cocktails and drinking dens!
Araña Taqueria Y Cantina
This Magazine Street newcomer features authentic dishes and drinks from Mexico’s Yucatán region, including drunken horchata cocktails (made from ground almonds and rice) and meats slow-simmered in banana leaves. “We’ve developed a cocktail program that pays tribute to the Mexican cantina,” says bartender Kelly Crown. “Our goal is to use flavors and combinations that stay true to Mexico, while adding our own spin.” Don’t miss half-price tacos, sangria, margaritas, beer, specialty drinks and wines by the glass during the bar’s upbeat happy hour, Monday-Friday, from 3-7 pm. 3242 Magazine St., (504) 894-1233, facebook.com/arananola
Following the December reopening of this French Quarter institution, customers will find power lunches, curious tourists and Champagne sabering by beverage director and sommelier Drew Brandwein each Friday at 5 pm — all in an effort to kick off the weekend in high style, of course. In addition to a classic-leaning cocktail list with a DIY Sazerac project (choose your own Rye, absinthe and bitters), the wine cellar boasts an astonishing 7,500 bottles (and counting!). 417 Royal St., (504) 525-9711, brennansneworleans.com
Latitude 29 — Bienville House Hotel
Exotic drink guru and cocktail-book author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry launched his temple to tiki, Latitude 29, in November. And with Steve Yamada manning the bar, expect nothing less than pleasing Polynesian-influenced drinks, like the Mississippi Mermaid (with vodka, tamarind, lemon, allspice and banana). 321 N Peters St., (504) 609-3811, latitude29nola.com
Davenport Lounge — The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans
Fancy yourself a trumpet player after a few drinks? Byron Buck, resident mixologist at The Ritz-Carlton’s Davenport Lounge, makes a mean Pimm’s Cup, while headline trumpeter Jeremy Davenport takes the stage (debuting in 2015, private trumpet lessons with Davenport will be available to guests with musical leanings). If you’d prefer to just hang in the audience, swing by The Ritz-Carlton for its Bites, Barrels and Jazz program every Wednesday evening: There’s live jazz and a specialty menu of small bites (think crab-cake sliders or crawfish quesadillas) alongside tasting portions of small-batch American whiskeys and select wines. 921 Canal St.; (504) 524-1334, ritzcarlton.com
It may be known for its killer (and cheap!) happy hour (go 3-7 pm Monday-Friday, and you’ll find all mussels, flatbreads and drinks half off), but Salú bartender Jeff Toler takes his cocktails seriously. “We’ve expanded our cocktail menu by creating our own house-infused spirits,” he says. “From vodka to gin, our customers love adding a new twist to traditional mojitos and other specialty cocktails.” 3226 Magazine St., (504) 371-5809, salurestaurant.com
In October, chefs and TV personalities John Besh and Aarón Sánchez debuted their Latin-influenced, local ingredient-driven CBD collaboration and dios mio, the results are delicious. You’ll want to keep coming back to the buzzy bar for inventive libations like El Jefe (with Bulleit Bourbon, xocolatl mole bitters and orange) or the Mexico City Michelada (the refreshing combination of Pacifico beer and tomato juice will quickly replace your go-to brunch order). 930 Poydras St., (504) 304-6615, johnnysanchezrestaurant.com
Polo Club Lounge — Windsor Court Hotel
In addition to offering cocktail classes to local drink enthusiasts, head mixologist Kent Westmoreland is debuting several new sips with fun, historical back stories at the Windsor Court in 2015 — like the Miss Eleanor’s Secret. Ok, we’ll spill: Made with Grand Marnier No. 2 peach-raspberry liqueur and Champagne, the drink was named after a 125-foot schooner called The Eleanor Joan that was known to smuggle Canadian whiskey and Champagne (the vessel was captured by the Connecticut Coast Guardsmen in 1930). 300 Gravier St., (504) 523-6000, windsorcourthotel.com
Wine of the Month
The Pour – 2009 ONEHOPE Santa Barbara Reserve Chardonnay
The Palate – Most of us will start 2015 with good intentions, so follow through and drink wine for a great cause this January. In addition to delivering big citrus-fruit notes on the nose and intense flavors of apricot and apple, the proceeds from this Chardonnay benefit the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
The Place – Stop by Wine Institute of New Orleans for a one-ounce sip ($1.70) or a full bottle ($17) of this winsome Chardonnay. 610 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 324-8000, winoschool.com