New Orleans mixologist Chris Hannah—who owns and leads the bar program at Jewel of the South, following fourteen years heading up Arnaud’s James Beard Award–winning French 75 Bar—loves a holiday sipper. At Jewel, he serves up the Spiced Blackberry Bishop, featuring sherry, blackberry cardamom Vinho Verde, and a pop of lime. At home this time of year, he’s partial to the Suissesse, a New Orleans cocktail heavy on absinthe and crème de menthe. And on Christmas Day, you’ll find him in Jackson Square, stirring up mulled wine with the other restaurant industry workers who gather there informally on the only day nobody works.
Hannah has other suggestions, too: Below, he shares the recipes for two easy-to-make holiday cocktails, one sweet and one sour. The former is a twist on one of his favorite classics, the Stinger. “When it’s cold out, people sometimes want something a little sweeter,” he says. “This has cognac, sherry, and crème de menthe that mixes with the baking spice notes of caraway and cumin.”
On the other hand, his Yule Thyme is “a fun seasonal apple brandy sour.” It leans on Calvados, Chartreuse, and lemon juice, with assists from thyme liqueur and bitters. “It has a full mouthfeel and it’s warming,” Hannah says, “but still refreshing.” It, or the Harvest Stinger—or mulled wine—are perfect for strolling through a decked-out New Orleans. “It’s always a pretty city, but people don’t know how great December is, when it’s all decorated, and the streetcars are draped with garlands and bows. I love to just walk around and admire everybody’s decorations.”