Los Angeles Times

Festive fixin's

Need a quick holiday fix? Whether your poison is the scent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire or the sound of Christmas carolers, these spots offer shoppers and strollers festive lifts during December.

Cold shoppers can catch a free, heated trolley that stops at various shops along Michigan Avenue and State Street and ends up at the House of Blues where complimentary hot chocolate and holiday cookies are offered. Or, sample one of their warm holiday cocktails for $5, including Santa's Sicilian Sipper (coffee with amaretto and cream) and Uncle Jimmy's Winter Warmer (hot spiced apple cider with Jim Beam Black). The trolley runs Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m. through Dec. 21.

Erawan. Holiday shoppers can break for lunch Dec. 2 to Christmas Eve and warm up with some spicy Thai. Four prix-fixe multi-course menus are featured for $25 each. Choose one of four traditional styles: Bangkok, curry lovers', Chiangmai or Northeastern. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Lawry's the Prime Rib. Although they close their doors on Christmas Day, diners throughout December are serenaded by Christmas carolers clad in traditional Victorian costumes from 6 to 9 p.m. (5 to 8 p.m. Christmas Eve).

For an international twist, schoolchildren serenade Brasserie Jo diners with traditional French Christmas carols each night from Dec. 9 to Dec. 23 (7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday).

Complimentary eggnog is served to patrons of the Saturday lunch buffet at The Signature Room at the 95th at the John Hancock Center through Dec. 21. Lunch hours are 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; cost is $13.95 adults, $9.95 kids 12 and under.

Seasons Lounge. Warm up by the fireplace and munch on roasted chestnuts this December inside the Four Seasons Hotel from 5 to 7 p.m. through Christmas Eve. While you're there, be sure to check out the One Magnificent Gingerbread Mile display in the seventh-floor lobby, a scale model of 10 Chicago skyscrapers decorated with over 200 pounds of candy and icing, plus miniature lighted trees.

Eli's Cheesecake World. Visitors to the cafe can warm up with complimentary hot chocolate and cheesecake samples on Sundays through Dec. 22.

Christmas happens a little early this year at Otro Mas, where traditional fixings get a Latin lift. On the menu: tequila-cured salmon tostaditas, cabrales mashed potatoes and braised root vegetables. Courses are paired with wine and seasonal libations. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12, cost is $50.

Bistro 110. Place an unwrapped gift for a child under the giving tree and receive a complimentary bouche de Noel au chocolate (chocolate kiss) created by chef Dominique Tougne. The donations benefit Toys for Tots. Wash down your treat with a minty "Winter Kiss" martini. Offer lasts through Dec. 23.

Spiaggia. Chef Tony Mantuano creates a three-course holiday lunch beginning Dec. 3. Cost is $35. Lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Dec. 21. For a holiday dessert, sample the panettone bread pudding.

Le Bar and Cafe des Architectes tucked inside the Hotel Sofitel. Brush up on your French with new holiday cocktails and martinis designed to warm up any shopper. Try the Menage a Trois (coffee, cream, creme de cocoa and a shot of Tia Maria) or the Oh La La! (hot chocolate, Bacardi spiced rum and Amaretto). Shopping stressing you out? Try the C'est La Vie martini.

Rebecca Keith Palmore is a Chicago freelance writer.

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