Gary Clark and Meg McKinney
Frosty glasses and tinkling ice cubes douse summer's heat at Elixir Restaurant & Bar in Jackson, Mississippi. The posh venue off I-55 serves 18 different martinis. It's like a visit to a candy shop: Electric-looking beverages such as the Lemonhead and Lifesaver ($8) are as popular as the sugary sweets for which they're named. Silence the rumble in your tummy with Moroccan Lamb Chops ($17) or The Elixir Roll filled with Hawaiian bigeye tuna ($18). A lighting designer by trade, owner Skip Nessel knows how to set a mood. Slick lighting and sensual drapes transform the place into one big cocktail party. As Skip puts it, "Something yummy to eat and a cold martini make a fabulous healing concoction." 4800 I-55 North, Suite 6B, Jackson, MS 39211; (601) 981-7896 or www.elixirms.com. Hours: 5 p.m.-until, Tuesday-Saturday.
St. Louis, Missouri
All-nighters are common at this Study Hall--but no one's cramming for a test. "Expanding minds one drink at a time" is the slogan at this watering hole where seasoned guests feel just as welcome as the younger set. Colorful lockers inside and giant pencils outside add to its anything-but-elementary charm. For kicks try one of the After School Specials, such as the Catholic Schoolgirl, made with a shot of raspberry vodka. 118 Morgan Street; (314) 241-4646. Hours: 7 p.m.-3 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
You don't have to don a big hat and purchase a Derby ticket to enjoy the unforgettable taste of mint juleps year-round. The Kentucky favorite has been the official drink of the Derby for nearly a century, and fans can find the beverage at The Brown hotel. The popular spot serves the Southern drink upon request in its lobby bar 3 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. Or guests can also score some mint juleps at the hotel's on-site restaurant, J. Graham's Café. 335 West Broadway, (502) 583-1234 or www.brownhotel.com.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Two sisters rule the French Quarter. The Court of Two Sisters, named for Creole siblings who lived during the late 1800s, renders some of the tastiest mimosas ($6) in the South. Stop by any day except Wednesday for the jazz brunch ($25), where guests sip to the beat of live music and feast on everything from grits and grillades to duck à l'orange. 613 Royal Street; (504) 522-7261 or www.courtoftwosisters.com. Make reservations online. Lunch hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Dinner hours: 5:30-9 p.m., Thursday-Saturday and Monday.
When four friends with different culinary tastes started cooking together, they gave birth to the spicy downtown spot called Z' Tejas Grill. Snag a seat on the patio, and order a Latin-inspired mojito ($4.50) with your meal. It comes in a tall glass and tastes like what you'd imagine a Cuban drink to be---smooth, refreshing, and tropical. With a menu as diverse as its hometown, the restaurant features items such as Fireman Tim's Chile Verde ($7.95) made with pork drenched in garlic and green chiles. 1110 West Sixth Street; (512) 478-5355 or www.ztejas.com.
The Round Robin Bar at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., serves favorite Presidential drinks, some of which are nonalcoholic. Try the one named for Calvin Coolidge, which contains a refreshing blend of cranberry juice and soda ($5). (202) 628-9100.
"Close to Home: Sip Something Hip" is from the June 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.