Dec. 28, 2010 10:43 PM
20101229-livingind-0101

Keep the cocktails coming for a New Year's Eve to remember (if you can). by Mary Tutwiler

Popping fireworks and clinking glasses. Lounge lizard music, showers of confetti and big sloppy smooches. That's the ghost of New Year's past. New Year's Eve, present tense, is a little less crazy, and that's fine by me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Keep the cocktails coming for a New Year's Eve to remember (if you can). by Mary Tutwiler

                                          Photo by Robin May

Popping fireworks and clinking glasses. Lounge lizard music, showers of confetti and big sloppy smooches. That's the ghost of New Year's past. New Year's Eve, present tense, is a little less crazy, and that's fine by me.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not yet in the snooze-in-front-of-the-tube demographic; I do like a little tipple to ease the New Year in. Often I'm home, with the best bottle of champers I can muster, a sparkler in hand to amuse myself and conduct come-what-may into our collective future. That's one version of New Year's Eve I can tolerate.

But lately, with the cocktail revolution going on in town, it's a grand night to sample our local bartenders' skills, and believe me, they've been busy concocting.

Over at The Elephant Room, the bar welcomes the cold season with two traditional winter quaffs. Hot buttered rum and hot toddys are on the menu when the chilly wind blows. Charley G's bar says OK to the new year with a signature Oh Kai cocktail. Mix Kai lychee vodka with fresh lime juice, ginger ale and a cherry on top for an Asian bounce. If it's champagne you're after, Charley G's makes a perfect classic champagne cocktail, nicely balanced between the sweet and the bitters, just like the old year we're drowning.  

Jolie's Louisiana Bistro has a newbie, named for Grammy nominee Feufollet. Fresh squeezed Louisiana satsuma juice pairs with vodka; top the drink with a Heinerbrau Brewery head and you've got one of the most original cocktails in town. Pamplona is going all out with five new cocktails, sparkling for the ladies and a more manly duo, the Django, two fingers of bourbon jazzed up with splashes of passion fruit, lemon and black current, and the Rising Son, an Irish take on a Sazerac featuring Jameson's, raw sugar, lemon and a drop of Pechaud bitters.

Dozo offers a trip to the Orient in a glass, a signature ginger martini, made with Tyku vodka and fresh ginger juice. Marcello's Wine Market Café has a new star on its cocktail menu, Stella Nueva, made of gin, Strega (an Italian digestif with notes of mint, fennel and saffron), fresh squeezed oj and topped with prosecco. Village Café is pouring a flowery champagne spritzer scented with St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur, bubbly, and more bubbly in the form of San Pellegrino water to lighten it up, topped with a traditional lemon twist.

And then there are the old standbys, no slouch either. If you haven't been in a while, the bar at Don's downtown is a cozy retreat; Lafayette fave, the Old-Fashioned is always at the top of the drinks list. Don's Seafood Hut is the sleeper here: Its Old-Fashioned has just as much jolt for those who live mid-city and don't want to make the drive downtown. Tsunami is renowned for its chocolatey martinis. What better night than tonight to drink dessert first? Guama's has cornered the market on tropical thunder. Try the mango, guava and pineapple mojitos. Speaking of mojitos, Café Havana City does the Papa Hemingway special, a traditional mojito, to perfection, and happy hour chez Café Havana lasts all day every day.

I love slipping into the bars along restaurant row. That would be Pinhook between University and the Bayou Vermilion. Ruth's Chris pours beautiful martinis in the cozy bar that has the deepest armchairs in town. Blue Dog offers a long bar and a companionable crowd - go for the dirty dog martini, with lots of olives. Then there's Café Vermilionville, where the fireplace warms chilly nights, and the mint juleps are made with fresh mint from the garden.

Because New Year's Eve falls on a Friday this year, Lafayette's restaurants are offering special coursed dinners. Call immediately if you'd like to dine and drink your way into the future. Happy New Year! Bottoms up.

 

Also in Living Ind

Read the Flipping Paper