The Best Bars Open on Christmas Day
What could be more in the holiday spirit than raising a glass on Christmas Day? Traditional carolers were as famous for their drinking as their singing, and “wassail” (as in “Here We Come A-Wassailing”) means both the act of toasting neighborhood households with song as well as a traditional beverage of hot mulled punch. Take a page from holiday history and order your own personal cup of wassail.
It’s no secret that traveling on December 25 in a traditionally or predominantly Christian country can spell difficulty for visitors looking for the standard array of drinking options. Many bars and restaurants close. However, in the storied tradition of American Jewish families eating out at Chinese restaurants, exceptions—usually Asian restaurants and bars, as well as those found in hotels—can be found even in the heart of Christendom. Outside of Europe and North and South America, the Christmas drinker’s options widen considerably. After all, in Tokyo, Christmas is just another day of the week.
Whether you are looking for a change of pace, a new place to celebrate, or just a reason to get out of the house (or hotel), Travel + Leisure has found the 12 best places to drink on December 25. From the dingy but timely charm of Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge in New Orleans to the impressive elegance of the Dandelyan in London, there’s a bar for everyone. While we can promise they’ll be open, we can’t promise that there’ll be egg nog. But that’s probably a good thing.
Dandelyan in London
All jewel-toned elegance, Dandelyan, resting above the south bank of the Thames, offers a stunning view of Saint Paul’s dome and an even more interesting array of cocktails. Bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana (a.k.a. Mr. Lyan) was named the International Bartender of the Year in 2015 and his latest venture, located inside the Mondrian London at Sea Containers, was the Best New International Cocktail Bar. You could read its menu like an art book: impeccably designed and dense with pages. Its latest botany-inspired menu includes one cocktail, the 13th-Century Boy, made with Martin Miller’s Gin, palm and pine cordial, and…mummified citrus. Try it: it’s surprisingly sophisticated.
Where: 20 Upper Ground
When: 12 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Dead Rabbit in New York
Tucked away in the lowest of lower Manhattan, the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog promises patrons a taste of old New York and the long tradition of Irish-American hospitality. With two levels, the ground floor is dedicated to craft beer, international whiskeys, and informal lunch service while the upstairs parlor features a selection of small plates and a staggering 72 cocktails, all historically sourced from the 19th century. One of the world’s most lauded bars, its incredible precision behind the bar and voracious attention to historic and modern-day detail are testament to its success.
Where: 30 Water Street
When: 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Delicatessen in Moscow
Tucked away from the main drag in something like a parking lot, Delicatessen serves up nearly endless cocktail possibilities but no precise drink menu in Moscow’s Garden Ring neighborhood. With a lively fireplace, a working piano, an eclectic bar area, and a fleet of bearded bartenders, both food and drink are marvelous and surprising, from a flaming drink served in a Star Wars Stormtrooper mug to dishes that feature beaver meat. Reservations, and a sense of adventure, recommended.
Where: Sadovaya-Karetnaya ul., 20, стр. 2
When: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
La Factoria in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Another bar without a sign, this one’s found on the corner of San Sebastián and San José in old San Juan. Inside the unmarked terra cotta building, the former home of Hijos de Borinquen, an unpretentious cocktail bar welcomes patrons into a well-used space strung with garden lights. (Next door’s Vino, accessible via an unmarked wooden door by the bar, offers an equally charming wine bar.) Their bitters and their ginger beer are homemade; tapas are also on the menu. Try their spiced old fashioned, or ask a bartender to whip up something special.
Where: Calle San Sebastian #148
When: 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The Gantry in Sydney
Perched on the spit of land between Walsh Bay and Sydney Harbor (and right beneath the Sydney Harbor Bridge), the Gantry bar is lined with windows and filled with light. There isn’t a bad time of day, or night, to grab a cocktail here. Located inside the Pier One Hotel, the menu features a wide array of local ingredient and far flung surprises (plus plenty to snack on). Try the Last Kiss from Russia #2, made with shaken Beluga vodka, passion fruit, kaffir lime syrup, and a dash of ginger beer.
Where: 11 Hickson Road
When: 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
High Five in Tokyo
Yet another top shelf cocktail bar without a drink menu, Tokyo’s High Five is located unobtrusively on the 4th floor of a Ginza office building. The mastermind behind the bar, veteran Hidetsugu Ueno tries to gauge what his patrons most want to drink, and then aims to make it. His “ice diamond” carving, where he shapes a block of ice with a ultra-sharp paring knife into something resembling a giant crystalline gem, is one of his signature moves.
Where: Efflore Ginza5 Bldg. BF, 5-4-15 Ginza
When: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar in Tel Aviv
A block from the beach and the U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv’s premier cocktail bar (located inside the eponymous Imperial Hotel) offers up an extraordinary 150 drinks, though not all at once. Try their smoky-flavored Gold Fashioned, made with Highland Park 12 single malt, Vida mescal, and Bols genever stirred with falernum, a few drops of Angostura bitters and—for a touch of extra opulence—gold dust.
Where: 66 HaYarkon Street
When: 6 p.m. to “last customer”
Snake & Jake's Christmas Club Lounge in New Orleans
A tree-shaded neighborhood joint in New Orleans’ Uptown, Snake and Jake’s looks, well, a little bit like a shack. With a faded wreath over the door and an interior lit only by Christmas-tree lights, it’s also a classic dive where every day is Christmas—especially on Christmas. It’s served the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Bette Midler, and George Clooney, but the best part about this bar is its unpretentious neighborhood vibe. Try their signature drink, the Possum Drop: it’s a pint of Schlitz with a shot of Jagermeister.
Where: 7612 Oak Street
When: 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Tramonto in Santiago
With a 360 degree view of the Andes, this rooftop terrace is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset pisco sour. Located on the corner of the glamorous Alonso de Córdova, Santiago’s luxury shopping district, it exudes a see-and-be-seen air. (And if you’re a guest at the Hotel Noi Vitacura, you can also take a dip in the pool.) Though they’re known for their wide variety of sours, you can celebrate the holiday with a cóctel caliente, say a ginger hot toddy made with a hint of peach, or the Valle Coya made with “flamed Frangelico.”
Where: Hotel Noi Vitacura, Nueva Costanera 3736
When: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
In the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, aka the world’s tallest building, Zuma is one of Dubai’s most popular financial district restaurants. Though its famous for its flawless Japanese fare, don’t ignore the cocktails in its informal lounge. Along with an enviable selectin of sake to choose from, its cocktail list is refreshing and fruit-centric. Try the South East Asian Cooler, which features bison grass vodka along with passion fruit, mint, cinnamon, and pressed apple juice.
Where: Gate Village 06, Podium Level, Sheikh Zayed Road
When: 12:00 p.m. to 1 a.m.