Christmas Forever at Lala’s Little Nugget

lala's little nugget

Lala’s Little Nugget in Austin is the bar straight out of my dreams: it’s a dark little dive, off the beaten path, populated by neighborhood regulars who don’t pay you a bit of mind. The bartenders pour stiff drinks and, here’s the kicker, it’s decorated for Christmas every day of the year.

When I started drinking at Lala’s in the early aughts, there were myths surrounding the perpetual Christmastime, but the most pervasive was that the owner’s husband had died during the holidays in the early 70s, and she’d left up the decorations to honor him. A good story, a much better story than the truth: the owner did decide to leave the decorations up in 1972 rather than take them down, but it was because she thought the bar looked too bare without them.

But what I love most about Lala’s—even more than the decorations—is the jukebox. It’s stuck in 1972, too, and is the best possible combination of jazz, soul, and golden country. Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald and Lou Rawls and Tammy Wynette and Nina Simone all packed in together. Oh, and Christmas music. Of course. You wouldn’t think that it would work, but it’s perfect.

I made this playlist, christmas: hiding out at lala’s little nugget, as a tribute to the great Lala’s jukebox.

The old Christmas playlists are still around, too, and I still add to and cut from them every year:

christmas: coffee – a playlist of mellow tunes to listen to while you’re drinking your coffee and watching the lights blink on the tree (or making out, whatever, I’m not judging)

christmas: crafting and cooking – a mix of old and new songs to play in the background while you glue sequins and roll dough, heavy on the indie rock

christmas: cocktail party – upbeat classics, heavy on the crooners

You can follow the playlist now and wait a month before you listen to it if you’re a purist (Kim, I’m talking to you, about you and your “rules”) but if you want to pop on headphones and have this be the background music as you work, I will keep it just between the two of us.