Food & Drink

Decades old reveillon traditions and specialty holiday cocktails take over the culinary scene of the Crescent City.

Reveillon Dinners

The word “reveillon” means “awakening” in French, New Orleans’ original language. The Creoles, some of the city’s earliest inhabitants, celebrated the start of Christmas in the early 1800s, with a big family meal when they returned home from midnight mass. Two o’clock in the morning may be an odd time to start a feast consisting of chicken and oyster gumbo, game pies, soups, souffles, lavish desserts, brandy and coffee, but this is how it was done back then. It was a tradition the Creoles inherited from their European cousins as a way of breaking the daylong religious fast leading up to Christmas Eve. By the 1940s, the Reveillon tradition, which had been slowly fading out over succeeding generations, all but disappeared. However, it was revived in the 1990s – with modifications reflecting the times – and has been increasing in popularity ever since. Among those modifications, the emphasis on the Reveillon tradition shifted from family dinners at home to the tables of the city’s top-tier restaurants. Also, the meals are offered at more conventional dining times during the day, instead of in the wee hours of the morning. Today dozens of New Orleans restaurants offer Reveillon Dinners with menus inspired by the Creole families who began the tradition. Participating restaurants have added their own twists to their menus, featuring their house specialties and examples of their culinary creativity.

The Reveillon tradition is enjoyed by locals in old French Quarter restaurants. Luckily, visitors to New Orleans during the holidays can enjoy the same experience at restaurants around town. It’s the next best thing to having a big, festive holiday gathering at home.

Seasonal Cocktails

At Reveillon on the Rocks, restaurants and bars create holiday-theme cocktails. Drinks are crafted to complement Reveillon menus around town or can be enjoyed standalone.

Whiskey Wonderland
1.5 oz Winter Spice-infused Bourbon
1 oz Apple-cinnamon Purée
Pomegranate Shrub
Garnish with Cinnamon Stick, Star Anise and Lemon Twist