Image via The Roof Facebook
It may be chilly, windy, and awful outside, but these New York City holiday-themed bars are worthy of trekking to thanks to their intense décor and creative seasonal drinks. We’ve previously explored the best bars with books as well as the best hidden bars in the city, but now it’s time to highlight the watering holes that are perfect for the holiday season — some of which may not be around for much longer!
From German beer and over-the-top Christmas decorations to spiked cider and heated rooftop igloos, here are 10 bars worth experiencing this winter:
8. Miracle on 9th Street
Image by Sebastian Heck via Miracle on 9th Street
An annual pop-up bar around for only a few more days, Miracle on 9th Street is the place to go for seasonal drinks served in fun, festive glassware. Located a little east of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, Miracle is nestled into the bar, Mace, and is overflowing with kitschy decorations and Christmas music.
Its “Hanukkah Hideaway” provides a slight reprieve from the overwhelming wash of red and green, and compensates with silver and blue decorations to fit the holiday season. The menu, which offers mainly hot drinks, includes the Christmapolitan, Bad Santa, Jingle Balls Nog, Candy Cane Fizz, and the Wise Men. Address: 649 East 9th Street
7. Rolf’s Restaurant
Rolf’s, a German restaurant and bar, is famous for its intense Christmas decorations and old-world, cozy environment. Located in a snug space just north of Gramercy Park on the corner of East 22nd St. and 3rd Ave, Rolf’s is the place to go if you love over-the-top decorations, but are too lazy to set them up yourself.
The line to get in may be a little longer than ones at other bars, but the floor to ceiling wreaths, baubles, lights, candles, cherubs, and hundreds of other ornaments make the experience truly worth the wait. The alcohol selection is slightly limited, but you can enjoy some imported German draughts in keeping with the restaurant’s atmosphere. Address: 281 3rd Avenue
6. The Roof
Image courtesy The Roof Facebook
A more upscale and swanky night out could be enjoyed at The Roof, located on the 29th floor of the Viceroy Central Park luxury hotel on 57th Street between 6th and 7th Ave.
Around the holiday season, it transforms into the cool and classy “Winter Room,” which offers an outdoor terrace to take in stunning views of Central Park as well as specialty drinks such as the Rooftop Toddy, the Central Park Sleigh Ride, and The Snowday. Address: 29, Viceroy, 124 West 57th Street
5. The Belfry
Photograph by John Seniszyn. Courtesy of The Belfry
It’s easy to miss this rustic bar among the many restaurants and shops around Union Square, but if you keep an eye out for the plants and flowers spilling out of its entrance, you won’t be disappointed. Open year round and always seasonally decorated, The Belfry is an old-fashioned bar with high ceilings, antique Harry Potter-esque chandeliers, candles on the walls, and plants hanging from the ceilings. Its usual cocktail menu and beer selection are sublime, and its winter decorations and seasonal drinks are tasteful and original.
In addition to tasty winter cocktails, it offers its famous “Pickles to Drink” drinks, which are mixed with pickle brine to ease the burn. If brine is not your go-to winter beverage, then give the Mezcal Margarita or Downeast Seasonal Cider a try. Address: 222 East 14th Street
4. 230 Fifth Igloo Bar
Located just one street north of Madison Square Park between Broadway and Fifth Ave, the 230 Fifth Igloo Bar boasts some incredible views of the city at night. During the months of November through late April, its rooftop transforms into a luminescent space filled with heated and transparent igloos. In addition to the unique space, there are spiced seasonal drinks such as Bailey’s Boozy Hot Chocolate, Hot Fireball Cider, Kahlua Hot, and Morgan’s Hot Cider. The best part of the experience is that each igloo is a shared space, encouraging guests to mingle and make friends with one another.
There are no reservations, entrance fees, or minimums to enjoy these cozy igloos, so there may be a short wait. Luckily, there are plenty of igloos and each can accommodate up to 12 people. Plus, you can hang out in a warm robe and drink while you wait! Address: 230 5th Avenue
3. Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
Image courtesy Lillie’s Victorian Establishment Facebook
Both outposts normally boast beautiful stained-glass windows, high ceilings, antique lamps, and Victorian-era art, but during the holiday season the spaces are transformed with beautiful wreaths, baubles, trinkets, and all sorts of colorful decorations. Their seasonal cocktails include the Whiskey Citrus Shandy, the Dirty Old Bastard, and the Mezcal Gold Rush among other classics and specialties. Addresses: 13 East 17th Street and 249 West 49th Street
2. Haven Rooftop Ski Chalet
A ski chalet, Haven Rooftop (132 West 47th Street), can be found sitting atop the Sanctuary Hotel in Times Square. The cozy, tented space is decorated with antler chandeliers, twinkling lights, and best yet — scheduled snow shows.
As a refuge from the cold, guests can head to Haven for fondue, S’mores and a menu of hot cocktails, including the Toasted Almond (Kahlua, Vanilla Vodka, Amaretto and Milk), the Ginger Toddy (Torres, Bullet Bourbon, Cinnamon liquor, Fresh Ginger and Honey Syrup) and the Peppermint Cream (Baileys, Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe and Chocolate Liquor).
1. The Lodge at the McKittrick Hotel
The McKittrick Hotel is welcoming back The Lodge, a wintertime conversion of rooftop bar Gallow Green into a veritable cabin in the woods. Since this is the McKittrick Hotel of Sleep No More fame we’re talking about, expect nothing less than an all-out theatrical experience. This is a cabin that will take you, mind and body, out of New York City and straight to the wintry, Scottish woodlands.
The last time we paid a visit, we encountered an upwards of 50 Christmas trees surrounding the wooden cabin, with forest paths to explore. The main room, whose doors are weighed down by tin cans, had two bunk beds (replete with hot water bottle and Scottish blankets galore), a fireplace, two sitting areas, a long wooden communal kitchen table, a small kitchen and the bar. There was also a small bedroom with the bed surrounded to the ceiling on three sides by old books.
There was a desk in the foyer covered with books on plants and collected specimens. Letters and sheet music were tacked onto the wall. An outdoor patio area had a real fire burning, which doubled as a smoking area. Then through the wooded paths, we found a tent filled (and we mean filled) with sheepskins — but that’s just touching the surface. See over previous coverage of The Lodge.