Even in the eclectic dining scene that is contemporary New Orleans, Mister Mao is unabashedly quirky. Billing itself as a “tropical roadhouse,” the relative newcomer to Uptown has won acclaim since opening in July 2021 with an ever-changing menu playful enough to accommodate duck confit, Alabama corn pudding, and habanero octopus aguachile. Creative impulses extend to the bar, especially around the holidays. Case in the point: the Mistle-Toe-Up, available through Christmas Eve.
“I enjoy serving cocktails that make guests feel festive, warm, and fuzzy,” says head bartender Juan Cardona. “One of my personal favorite cocktails is a swizzle, so Mistle-Toe-Up is a rendition using fruit, chartreuse, and herbs to bring out the nostalgia of celebrating Colombian Novena, the nine days of Christmas. It’s a bit piney, with hints of clove and licorice—all things I love.”
Mister Mao owner Sophina Uong also loves the Mistle-Toe-Up for those attributes, though she might imbibe it for a different reason. “Holiday cocktails are about the garnishes and all about the flair, and if it sparkles, all the better” she says. “We believe the booze should be stiff enough to ease any family-induced holiday anxiety—at least in our family.”