11 National Bars Serving Standout Holiday Cocktails

Covering 11 standout national holiday cocktails around the US at Liquor.com, you’ll find my top national drinks on menus at these bars/restaurants:

— Tavernetta, Denver, CO
— Henley, Nashville, TN
Michael Mina, San Francisco, CA
— Pesce, Washington, D.C.
— The Barrow House, Clifton, NJ
Watershed Kitchen + Bar, Columbus, OH
Aziza, San Francisco, CA
Salt Rock Kitchen, Sedona, AZ
Hotel Jerome, Aspen, CO
Thompson Seattle, Seattle, WA
Hell or High Water, Louisville, KY

Tavernetta, Denver

The holidays evoke a range of flavors, whether the comfort of ginger and baking spices, the lushness of vanilla and cream or the decadence of chocolate and coffee. These bars/restaurants have beautifully showcased 11 cocktails imparting holiday cheer, served from coast-to-coast.

Can’t make it to any of the bars? Try making The Morning After from New Jersey’s The Barrow House at home.

Thief’s Alibi (Tavernetta, Denver, CO)With its setting by Denver’s iconic Union Station train station, the rightly-acclaimed Tavernetta (from the James Beard Award-winning team of Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine) is arguably Denver’s most world class restaurant with fine dining-worthy pasta, crudo, dishes and wine list. Cocktails are likewise expertly-crafted… and delicious. 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 and Chai (Henley, Nashville, TN)
At Nashville’s Henley, Chef Daniel Gorman works with local farmers as he shapes his southern-influenced menus 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 Champagne and 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.

Aziza, San Francisco — Flavor Basket cocktail

Hathor’s Pumpkin (Michael Mina, San Francisco, CA)The original Michelin-starred Michael Mina restaurant is better than ever with tasting menus from chef Mina and Raj Dixit calling on Mina’s Egyptian childhood in Middle Eastern spices, ingredients and flavors alongside new pastry chef Nick Muncy’s intriguing desserts. Lead bartender Anthony Attanasio keeps in step with winter cocktails like Hathor’s Pumpkin. Infusing Chairman’s Reserve rum with pumpkin, further holiday spice is gained from 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.

The Earl of Puffin (Pesce, Washington, D.C.)
D.C. seafood destination, Pesce, showcases what’s fresh on the daily chalkboard menu from chef Andrew LaPorta. The 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.

The Morning After (The Barrow House, Clifton, NJ)Egg-topped pizzas, pot pies and lobster mac ‘n cheese define Barrow House, a modern tavern in a rustic wood-and-stone barn-like building in Clifton, NJ. Lead bartender Shawn Gorga created a bold after-dinner cocktail, The Morning After, 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 chili spice, earthiness and chocolate undertones from Xila Chili Liqueur, cold brew coffee and chocolate bitters.

Milk Money (Watershed Kitchen + Bar, Columbus, OH)
Watershed Distillery distills gin, bourbon, nocino, vodka and apple brandy in Columbus, OH. They also house Watershed Kitchen + Bar with a cocktail program led by beverage director Joshua Gandee. His clarified milk punch, Milk Money, takes on the holidays with a two-day process, steeping orange and lemon zest, vanilla, cloves, cardamom, allspice, coriander, star anise in their 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, it’s topped with soda water and a paper straw.

Flavor Basket (Aziza, San Francisco, CA)
Michelin-starred chef Mourad Lahlou (of Mourad) revived his longtime original restaurant, Aziza, this October in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond ‘hood. Lahlou’s ever-brilliant Cal-Moroccan food is enhanced by a Mediterranean-heavy wine list and cocktails like 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.

Michael Mina, San Francisco

Emperor’s Horchata (Salt Rock Kitchen, Sedona, AZ) 
Sedona’s Amara Resort and 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 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 Liquor 43 for subtle citrus notes, all milk-washed for a silky-smooth texture.

Fire & Ice (Hotel Jerome, Aspen, CO)
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.

Hacienda Flip (Thompson Seattle, Seattle, WA)
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 Patron Anejo tequila, Patron XO tequila and Mancino Secco vermouth, the drink goes full-flip-creaminess with a whole egg. Cinnamon and mole spices make it a full Mexico winter tribute.

Give Me S’more (Hell or High Water, Louisville, KY)
Louisville’s romantic, multi-room 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.