This month is all about continued celebration, not only winding down the holidays and toasting a new year, but that special time between the holidays and right before Carnival really gets ramped up. It’s like we’re in a collective celebratory holding pattern, taking stock of costumes, getting plans in order and making plans with friends. King cakes become “legal” again and resolutions are put on hold until spring. 

For some, the best laid plans are made in our local pubs, neighborhood gathering spots, taverns, wine bars and cocktail meccas located across the city. This year, writer Amy Gabriel takes us on a virtual “pub crawl” and more, highlighting come of our best classic, iconic establishments, new and up-and-coming-favorites as well as the people behind the bar that make imbibing with friends, family and neighbors a welcoming experience. 

While many of us popped the cork on bottles of bubbly and celebrated the new year as the clock strikes midnight on January 1, the Vietnamese New Year doesn’t get into full swing until January 22. Writer Thuc Doan Nguyen, a self-proclaimed member of the New Orleans “Viet Krewe,” takes an inside look at this special celebration and what the Year of the Cat has in store, plus how friends and families are celebrating traditions, both new and old.

This month we also raise a glass to a hospitality icon, as well as all of the “top” restaurants, businesses, events and more that make New Orleans great. The Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to restaurateur Susan Spicer. We take a look at her career of excellence and culinary innovation. Our “Tops of the Town” also highlights the everyday excellence of New Orleans favorites, chosen by you, our readers. All are at the top of their class in our book.

Plus, as always, we have a jam-packed issue with things to do, places to go, great food to try, recipes, profiles and more. It’s a new year and we’re excited to share Carnival, festival season and more with family and friends in the community we love. Cheers!

From the Editor

Ashley McLellan, Editor