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New York City's Best Bars for the Winter

New York City Restaurants + Bars Insider Guides
by Julie Schwietert Dec 12, 2008
Winter doesn’t have to signal the end of pleasant and memorable social drinking in New York City. Here are our favorite bars where sharing winter libations is so fun that you may actually be wistful once March 20 rolls around.

ACCORDING TO THE National Weather Service, winter will officially begin at 6:04 A.M. CST on December 21.

It won’t end until 6:44 A.M. CST on March 20, 2009.

That’s three whole months without drinks in Manhattan’s and Brooklyn’s restaurants with backlot urban gardens. 90 days without an alfresco mimosa or a Manhattan at a sidewalk table. It’s ok: I feel your pain. In the meantime, try:

Campbell Apartment

The Campbell Apartment isn’t well-known even among New Yorkers whose daily routes don’t take them through Midtown. And even commuters hurrying through Grand Central each day may be unaware that one of the city’s best bars is closer than their subway train.

Located inside Grand Central Terminal, the Campbell Apartment is the former office of John W. Campbell, a 1920s NYC high roller. It’s all dark wood, soaring windows, and… a big stone fireplace, and best of all, opens at 3 PM, so you can justify a stop on your way home from work.

15 Grand Central Terminal


Called the “Miss America of bars” by, Cibar is a bar for all seasons. During summer, its bamboo garden invites drinkers to linger awhile. In winter, though, it’s time to cozy up around the indoor fireplaces (yep, plural). Cibar is located in a townhouse, amplifying the homey feel. If only you had a home like this in the city….

56 Irving Place, Manhattan

The Dove Parlour

Started by a group of friends who wanted to “democratize decadence,” the Dove Parlour is another warm, inviting bar with a tucked-in-a-townhouse kind of feel. There’s a fireplace here, too, but instead of wood, light is given off by a tight bunch of tall pillar candles.

Winter signals the addition of a specialty drink to the limited but creative cocktail list: hot spiced mulled red wine. Happy hour is every day from 4-8 PM, when most drinks are $6.00 USD. Another particularly attractive feature of this bar is how late it’s open: that mulled wine is served all the way ’til 4 AM.

228 Thompson Street

The Auction House

If you’re feeling cold on the Upper East Side, then warm up by the fire at The Auction House. Just don’t come wearing fur; there’s a strict no-fur policy. Though there’s nothing particularly special about the decor or ambiance of this bar, it weeds out rowdier patrons by enforcing a 25-and-older policy on weekends.

300 E. 89th Street between First and Second Avenues


Cold is entirely relative. Save Arctica for one of those mid or late-winter nights when you think there just can’t be any place colder on Earth. This bar honors Shackleton’s Antarctica expedition. There’s lots of warm light, and heat radiates from a small pot-bellied stove. Gathered around the fire, it’s easy to forget you’re in New York.

384 Third Avenue (between 27th & 28th Streets)


Forget bellying up to the bar. Elbow your way to the open pit fire at Zanzibar to warm your hands; then head over the bar to warm your insides with some spirits. Cocktails are changed seasonally, so look for something hot and heavy instead of light and refreshing.

645 Ninth Avenue (corner of 45th Street)

Employees Only

You don’t have to be on the payroll to get served at Employees Only… you just need to be able to pay your bill. Along the already warm and cozy vibe that characterizes Hudson Street in the West Village is the even more inviting bar that deserves a spot on your winter barhop list.

First, there’s the working fireplace. Then, there’s the inventive cocktail list: the Kumquat Sangaree blends candied kumquats and allspice with champagne. And then there’s the slightly odd yet curiosity-provoking fortune teller who holds court reading cards just inside the door.

510 Hudson Street (between Christopher and W. 10th Street)

Huckleberry Bar

Lest you think I’m Manhattan-centric, I mention the Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In fact, Brooklyn’s one of the best places in the 5 boros to get winter cocktails, as there’s a mixologist movement growing in Brooklyn that’s worth watching.

Case in point? The tequila hot chocolate served at the Huckleberry Bar. What can I say about it? Nothing. You’ve got to check it out for yourself.

588 Grand Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn


LIC= Long Island City, and no, it’s not on Long Island. I’ve got to give my local nabe bar a nod, not because you’ll be blown away by its vibe if you cross the river and come visit Queens, but precisely because it’s NOT one of the pretentious see and be seen bars that are way too common in Manhattan.

Yet it’s not a dive, either. It’s a 100% nabe bar where even locals’ dogs are welcome. And so are you. Being an outer boro bar has its privileges. Space, for one thing. Enough space, actually, for a photo booth. AND a fireplace. So roll in, check out the menu, and if you’re gonna be around awhile, give me a call so I can stop by with my pup.

45-58 Vernon Boulevard

What are the bars you frequent in the winter, whether they’re in New York or Naples? Share your favorites in the comments!

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