The concept of a non-alcoholic holiday drink sounds like a paradox. The concept of a non-alcoholic holiday drink in New Orleans sounds like a sinister conspiracy from a horror film. Yes, apple cider and eggnog swirled with a little something extra certainly add some fun to the Christmas party at the accounting firm, some solace to a long day of holiday shopping, some sanity to nutty Aunt Ida’s antics.
But sometimes you’ve got an important meeting at 9 AM, piles of wrapping to do when you get home, a liver you’d like to hang on to through 2014… If you find yourself in a situation when your drink should err towards ‘nice’, here’s a little something to sip on:
1. Apple honey soda at The American Sector. You find yourself here after work, during happy hour, and think Yeah, I’ll order just one. You are lying. At $3 a piece, you’ll likely hoard these things like cashmere on clearance. So if you plan on rising at any point the following day, the apple honey soda is a smart and festive (think chilled, spiced apple cider) alternative. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
2. Beet and orange shrub soda at Noodle and Pie. It’s never to early to preemptively begin detoxing, in anticipation of many cookies, nog, and ham. Noodle and Pie offers rotating batches of house made, seasonally flavored sodas. The beet and orange variation highlights earthy fall flavors in the healthiest of ways.
3. Ginger beer at Bar Tonique. It’s Sunday evening and you’re still a little queasy from one too many hot buttered rums last night; Bar Tonique’s non-alcoholic ginger beer (house made ginger and gum syrups, lemon and lime juices, charged water) is your ticket. Bar Tonique offers an entire temperance menu — a handful of non-alcoholic cream sodas, classic sodas, and phosphate sodas — which offers choices that are nearly as satisfying as options from the alcoholic menus.
4. Gingerbread latte at Gracious Bakery. Okay, so you don’t usually sip on wine while enjoying your morning croissant (hopefully), but the list would be incomplete without some form of an traditional holiday flavor profile. And since that flavor a has nothing to do with pumpkin, this drink automatically earns a couple extra points.
5. Peppermint hot chocolate from Sucré. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’ve dodged temptation. There’s a batch of eggnog chilling the fridge that most definitely going to interfere with that work report you still haven’t finished. Opt out for Sucré’s hot chocolate. The patisserie allows patrons to bring their fantastic hot chocolate (made with Venezuelan chocolate) home with gift packs that includes two canisters of hot chocolate mix — peppermint stick and extra dark chocolate — and a bag of their homemade vanilla marshmallows ($39).
Chelsea Lee is associate editor of NolaVie. Email comments to her at email@example.com.