South Louisianians don’t need an excuse to drink, but the holidays offer the perfect reason to run out and grab a cocktail at your favorite bar. After you’re done shopping for presents for everybody else, a stiff drink is the perfect gift to give yourself to enjoy the holiday season. The drink options in Baton Rouge are as long as Santa’s list, but have no fear: These capital city bartenders have the perfect cocktail recipes to help you indulge in some holiday spirits.


Doe’s Eat Place

George Krause always goes the extra mile to find unique twists on classic mixes. A prime example the Doe's Eat Place bartender's tireless creativity is his version of the Bee Keeper. The drink features the typical gin and lemon juice but also uses a special smoked honey syrup made in-house that adds another layer to the sweet drink.

Bee Keeper

1.5 oz. Gin

1.5 oz. Smoked honey syrup, made in-house

.5 oz. Lemon juice

Pour syrup into a shaker, and dilute by half. Add gin and lemon juice. Shake until you get a little froth. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Serve with a lemon garnish.

How long have you been mixing drinks?

For about 17 years, between official and unofficial jobs and everything else.

What lessons have you learned along the way?

When you start bartending, you definitely want to work in a place where it’s mostly beer, maybe the occasional couple of glasses of wine — an actual bar where it’s more about speed and pumping out easy drinks real fast, because you have to learn that customer-service/move-fast mentality first. As your career goes on, you’ll slow down little by little and learn how to make more complex drinks, but you never lose that speed element.

What's one of the craziest cocktails you’ve ever made?

I have made two of them period, because nobody else has been brave enough or willing to do it, but I did a menu last year called "Clear Your Mind." The whole thing was on classic cocktails that were clear.

Somebody pointed out that they were all basically the same cocktail with mild variations — they said "Why don’t you try to make a real drink?" I said, "OK, what did you have in mind?" "Make me a clear Bloody Mary."

It took me about four months to figure it out, but now, if you really want one, I can make a clear Bloody Mary. It costs $120 in advance, and I need a one-week notice. It actually takes a week to produce.



Sullivan’s recently spent thousands of dollars upgrading its drink menu, which is music to the ears of 27-year-old craft cocktail connoisseur Joey Goar. One of Goar’s new favorites at Sullivan’s is the Barrel-Aged Vieux Carré, a blend of top shelf rye whiskey, cognac, vermouth, brandy and bitters that’s aged for 10 days before serving.

Barrel-Aged Vieux Carré

Recipe intended for a large group

1.5 liters Bulleit Rye Whiskey

1.5 liters Remy Martin VSOP Cognac

1.5 liters Carpano Antica Original Vermouth

34 oz. Brandy and Benedictine

6.25 oz. Angostura bitters

6.25 oz. Peychaud’s bitters

Blend drink in advance and barrel-age it for 10 days in American white oak. When served, bring out in flask and pour into rocks glass with distilled ice sphere. Serve with an orange peel for additional flavor.

How many different brown spirits (bourbon, rye, scotch, etc.) do you have on the menu?

Probably 70, if we’re talking bourbon, rye, scotch. We’ve got stuff from all over.

Does having a longer drink menu at your bar make your job much harder?

Yes. It’s harder as far as knowledge, making sure everybody learns about it, but one of the cool things that I’ve witnessed is you see a lot more people that you work with care about everything. In addition to being able to have stuff that’s more than a regular Jack and Coke, you don’t sell anything nice if you don’t know anything about it.

What’s one of the best parts of the rising popularity in sophisticated drinks?

It’s a really cool feeling to have somebody want to learn about what they’re drinking. Five years ago, even two or three years ago, people were just like, "Oh yeah, sure, whatever, I trust you."


Mansurs on the Boulevard

Gina Collier’s favorite drink at Mansurs can be served in warm and cold weather, so it’s a perfect holiday cocktail if it’s hot at Christmas again this year. The Honey Lavender Lemonade is a blend of bourbon whiskey, honey lavender syrup and lemon juice that the 25-year-old calls simple but delicious.

Honey Lavender Lemonade

1.5 oz. Cooper’s Craft bourbon whiskey

1.5 oz. House-made honey lavender syrup

1 oz. Fresh lemon juice

Pour ingredients into a Collins glass and add ice. Top with club soda and a lemon twist garnish. Patrons can stir the drink if they wish.

What do you enjoy about bartending?

I get to interact with a bunch of different people. I like being able to just talk to them.

How long did it take you to feel comfortable behind the bar?

It took me a few months, probably a little more time than some people because I had never bartended before. But I’m a pretty quick learner, and eventually I just kind of got into the flow of things. Everything just clicked.

Do the bartenders at Mansurs have input as far as the drink menu?

We do have input. We kind of brainstorm together. Derrick (Davis, the liquor manager) is all about listening to us. We put in our two cents about things that he wants to bring whenever we do change the list.


Driftwood Cask & Barrel

Peanut butter and jelly aren’t typically synonymous with alcohol, but Matt Vondenstein, of downtown Baton Rouge's Driftwood Cask & Barrel, found a way to make the timeless classic into a cocktail. The secret is a house-made simple syrup infused with PB&J, which makes for a spirit that would make your younger self smile.

Peanut Butter & Jealous

1.5 oz. Martel Caractère Cognac

1.5 oz. house-made peanut butter and grape jelly simple syrup

0.5 oz. Amaro Montenegro

0.75 oz. milk or almond milk

Pour ingredients into mixing glass, then add one scoop of ice. Shake twice, then strain immediately into a coupe glass. Garnish with a salted pretzel.

What was your inspiration for becoming a bartender?

It started out as just a job. I wanted to make extra money in college while I was trying to become a lawyer. Then it morphed, and I saw everyone at my day job while I was sitting at my desk. Some days they were happy, but most of them stayed stressed out about what I thought was trivial stuff. So I slowly made my way from a day job and bartending on the weekends to just bartending. 

What's your favorite thing about being a bartender?

Probably being with people at every step in their lives. 

It’s an overall good feeling to work in a place that helps bring out the good times in everyday life. However, there is the opposite of all that. There are the rough times, but I always try and make them feel better about the situation. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I fail. But that’s life. Not everything is always perfect.

I could be sitting at a desk and working 9-to-5, but I wouldn’t be able to meet as many people as I do on a daily basis, good or bad. I think seeing every side to a person is better because if life was only the good stuff, how would you ever really be able to appreciate the truly amazing things.

What do you think of the word "mixologist"?

"Mixologist" is a funny word. Many people think it’s a higher class. I think someone made it up to increase their sales or sell a book or get people to read their blog.

Personally, I call myself a bartender because that’s what I do. I stand behind a bar and help guide people through the world of alcohol. Other people call me a mixologist all the time. I’m OK with that, but if I have the option to put the word “bartender” or “mixologist” on my tombstone, I’m going with "bartender."

I’m not trying to be fancy or act like something I’m not. I’m just Matt V. I hope I can fit in at a bar like “Cheers” or some crazy rooftop bar in Manhattan. Either way I’m happy as long as I’m making other people happy.


Olive or Twist

When people think of tequila, they probably think of those old days of college parties. But Tim Griffin, the bar manager of Olive or Twist on Perkins Road, thinks of tequila in other, more enjoyable ways. In the Sloe Poke Rodriguez, Miller shows off tequila's versatility. It's a spicy drink with layers of flavor that tingles your tongue. 

Sloe Poke Rodriguez  

1.5 oz. Herradura Reposado tequila 

1 oz. Sloe gin 

.5 oz. Ancho Reyes liqueur 

.5 oz. jalapeño simple syrup

.5 oz. blackberry liqueur 

.5 oz. lemon juice

1 egg white 

3 dashes of Bittermens Hellfire Habañero Shrub 

1 jalapeño slice 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice. Dry shake for a few seconds. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a large coupe glass. Garnish with jalapeño. 

What was your inspiration for becoming a bartender? 

It started off as just a way to make money, but it picks you as far as a career goes. I always enjoyed having a good time and showing people a good time. As a bartender, you're basically hosting a party. You're going out but working at the same time.

What do you love about being a bartender?

The camaraderie. When you're tending bar, it's like a team sport. You usually have a crew of people, and it's you versus the world. That's almost how it feels sometimes. You're sweating together, working hard and making sure everybody has what they need. You get a tingle in your stomach from the electricity of working.

What's the most unusual cocktail you've ever made? 

We had a Tiki menu at Olive or Twist, and one was a Mezcal cocktail with 17 ingredients. It had everything, and you wouldn't think it would be refreshing, but it goes down like water, almost. 


Corporate Brew and Draft/The Cove

Named after Campbell’s grandmother, the Marguerite blends fruit juices, rum and cognac for a smooth cocktail that pairs well with soft, buttery cheeses. That’s fitting, given that Campbell developed the drink for a cheese and cocktail competition hosted by St. James Cheese Co. in New Orleans.

The Marguerite

3 muddled blackberries

1 oz. cognac (Pierre Ferrand preferred)

1.5 oz. rum (Clement 10 year preferred, but any oak aged or finished rum will do)

1 oz. lemon juice

0.5 oz. lime juice

Dash of simple syrup

Muddle the blackberries in a shaker. Add ice, then add rum, cognac, juices and simple syrup. Shake for 10 seconds, strain into a glass, and add a blackberry on a flag for a garnish.

What was your inspiration for becoming a bartender?

In 2014, I had been working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car for two years, moved up to management and got tired of corporate job structure. One of my best friends was working in the industry and had freedom to design cocktails. We collaborated on a few cocktails, and I enjoyed seeing something that I had input on printed in a fine dining restaurant's menu. 

It seemed like a fun, flexible schedule. I didn’t have to earn days off. I thought I was good at it. I always enjoyed cooking and tasting different spirits. I was good at selling things and wanted to do more things culturally. I wanted to make money being creative. I had been hanging out at The Cove a lot, and then I starting working at Corporate Brew & Draft. There, I began to get involved in the world of beer. At the same time, I was learning the history of alcohol from Tom Ange (of The Cove). 

What's your favorite thing about being a bartender? 

Definitely the people you encounter. They come and talk to you with an array of things — success, failures, the monotony of everyday life ... I've met a lot of people, and that community is really cool.

You don’t know what’s going to walk though the door, but you get to be a person who has a say in someone’s decisions. You're detached, but incredibly connected in a way.

— Robert Stewart and Matthew Sigur contributed to this report. Follow Sigur on Twitter @Matthew Sigur