The sound of a cork popping, that impossible-to-imitiate thwonk, is so synonymous with New Year's Eve that it gives paper hats and noisemakers a run for their holiday-symbolic dominance.
But while sparkling wines and the last day of the year are an iconic twosome, lively libations also make a strong showing slightly earlier in the month. We speak of the drinks of Christmastime, those festive sips that cameo on menus in the days leading up to the yuletide.
Where to find such liquid displays of adult-ready whimsy, if you yourself don't want to play mixologist at home? Look to some of the swanky restaurants around Southern California, places that have added panache-filled drinks to the roster as a tribute to the season. These include...
Nick + Stef's Steakhouse: This fine-dinery has a Whiskey Apple Collins on the menu, as well as a Barrel-Aged Maple Boulevard and Kir Royale. In fact, a number of the Patina Restaurant Group are doing it up in the December drinks department, including Maple at Descanso Gardens, Kendall's Brasserie, Ray's and Stark Bar, and Café Pinot. As the artisan behind the bar what's special for the season before you order.
Yamishiro: If the final few days of the final month of the year is 100% steeped in nogly longings for you, but nogly longings of the adult-libation sort, best head up the hill, in Hollywood, for the historic eatery's take on the creamy concoction. The Nutmeg-nog includes Iwai Traditional Japanese Whiskey, egg nog, cinnamon sugar, and a roasted marshmallow (plus nutmeg, natch).
Killer Shrimp: Goslings Rum is the star of the Yuletide Sour, a pre-Christmas drink that also includes honey syrup, fresh lime juice, and Angostura (the merest hint, as in a dash). This is a week-before-Christmas libation, so if you miss it, worry not: There's a New Year's Week drink called the New Year's Cooler. The Killer Shrimps in Marina del Rey and Hermosa Beach will feature both, as well as The Mermaid and The Hamburger Hamlet.
The Spare Room: Egg-luscious libations are a hallmark of the holidays, and this bowl-beautiful Hollywood establishment has a rich offering that reflects that. It's the Banana Flip, a spicy, rummy, creamy treat that includes both Jagermeister and an entire egg. And over at Winsome in Echo Park, more rich delights abide. Try The Western Belle, a cream-rich beverage that has a lot of pear-based lusciousness.