The Bad Santa cocktail might put you on the naughty list.
The Bad Santa cocktail might put you on the naughty list.
Photo courtesy of Spring Street

Holiday Cocktails Around Houston

It’s time for merry making and cocktail shaking and no one does it better than Houston’s friendly mixologist elves. We reached out to some restaurants and bars in town to see what Santa’s little helpers are crafting for the good little boys and girls this year. From posh to dive-y, we have a wintry mix of boozy beverages. So find a designated driver for the sleigh and hit some of these stops for a celebratory drink or an evening of peace and goodwill with friends.

Houstonians love their sangria in the summer, but Sonoma Wine Bar, 801 Studewood and 2720 Richmond, is offering a more seasonal variation for December. Its mulled sangria is a tasty blend of red wine, simple syrup, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, juniper berries and fresh fruit. The drink is available for $6/glass or $24/ carafe at happy hour, daily, from opening to 6:30 p.m. The restaurant is also offering some new wine flights for the holidays, perfect for pairing with the cheese boards or delicious entrees. The Richmond location has a cozy indoor fireplace, while the Heights bar offers an outdoor fireplace on its upstairs patio for Houston’s mildly cool nights.

Irish coffee and a hot toddy at Cafe Azur will keep you warm.EXPAND
Irish coffee and a hot toddy at Cafe Azur will keep you warm.
Photo courtesy of Cafe Azur

Cafe Azur, 4315 Montrose, may be a Provencal-inspired restaurant, but with the cooler December temperatures in Houston, you can warm up with their Irish coffee ($7) or a hot toddy, a mixture of whiskey, honey, cinnamon and hot water. The restaurant is also offering Les Torts Couronnes “ Cotes du Rhone” at $5 a glass, for a limited time; a good French wine for a Joyeux Noel.

The New Potato, 3519 Clinton, is also serving its take on a traditional hot toddy and an authentic Irish coffee, considering the owner is Irish. If the weather is amenable, the large outdoor green space is a good place to take the pup for an evening out, to watch the winter sun set over the Houston skyline. This is a neighborhood bar with the East End locals.The staff says that “This season’s holiday cocktails at The New Potato invoke a cozy sense of home, no matter where you hail from”. That’s a nice sentiment in today’s crazy world.

Holiday Wine Thyme at Perry's Bar 79.
Holiday Wine Thyme at Perry's Bar 79.
Photo courtesy of Perry's Steakhouse

Perry’s Steakhouse has six Houston area locations and 14 nationwide. The upscale steak and seafood restaurant is celebrating the season with a new cocktail, Holiday Wine Thyme ($9). Made with their signature Perry’s Reserve Cabernet, Hennessy VS Cognac, fresh lemon juice and a sprig of thyme garnish, it is available in Perry’s Bar 79. The Memorial City location has undergone major remodeling and the Champions location at 9730 Cypresswood is undergoing a $3 million renovation after receiving flooding damage from Hurricane Harvey.

The bartenders at Spring Street Beer and Wine Garden, 1920 Houston, have come up with some cocktails that aren’t just delicious, but have creative names as well. Sonia the Bar Elf and bartender Natalie have created an assembly line of holiday cocktails including The Dirty Grinch, a mix of vodka, Kahlua, half and half, ginger syrup, ginger liqueur, whipped cream and caramel. If you have ever wondered where Rudolph gets his fuel for the long Christmas haul, it could be the house-infused cherry bourbon, Rudolph’s Gasoline. The Christmas offerings also include the Bad Santa, made with the house-infused spicy vodka and Tis the Season, a vodka and cranberry concoction featuring key lime pie beer and ginger beer. Remember- Always. Be. Cocktailing.

Sassafras, 5022 Pinemont, is ready for those who want to go a-wassailing. Bartender Holly (yes that’s her real name) has a drink named after her called Holly’s Wassail. This Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhood hangout has a coin-operated pool table and a Monday steak night. Though there is no food menu, there are occasional food trucks. You can enjoy Holly’s wassail under the handsome gaze of Houston’s much-missed Patrick Swayze, from his gilt-framed portrait. You never know, you might also meet up with Ivy, Carol and Noel.

Celebrate Christmas brunch with Champagne spritzers at Urban Eats.
Celebrate Christmas brunch with Champagne spritzers at Urban Eats.
Photo courtesy of Urban Eats

Urban Eats, 3414 Washington, has holiday specials for the brunch crowd this month. With $3 mimosas, Bellini, and spritzers, they won’t break the holiday budget. The Champagne spritzers come in several flavors: blackberry, mango and ginger. For a real party, carafes are $10. If you need something a little stiffer to handle the holiday crowds, bloody Marys and micheladas are $5 during brunch. Urban Eats will be open for Christmas Eve brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and New Year’s Eve brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Hugo Ortega and Brock Wagner bring milk chocolate stout to Houston.EXPAND
Hugo Ortega and Brock Wagner bring milk chocolate stout to Houston.
Photo courtesy of Saint Arnold Brewing Co.

For holidaymakers who prefer beer to cocktails, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons, has released its Icon Blue-Chocolate Milk Stout. Marketing director, Lennie Ambrose, got the idea while brunching at Hugo’s, the self-named restaurant of Houston’s own icon, Hugo Ortega. The Mexican hot chocolate served there gave him the idea to use the Mexican chocolate tablets in beer. The collaboration between Saint Arnold founder and owner, Brock Wagner, and James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur, Ortega, resulted in a delicious dessert beer. The Icon series has a limited release of typically three months and can be found on tap around Houston. It is available in other parts of Texas and Louisiana and in six packs at retail stores. Saint Arnold's Christmas Ale, Cut It With Bread Pudding, is available for a limited time, also. You had better write that letter to Santa before it’s all gone.

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