Christmas in New York City is one of the city’s most magical seasons, and while the festivities will likely look a little different this year as the world continues to cope with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are some traditions that you just can’t stop. One grand, albeit unsung, NYC holiday tradition: festive cocktails. Throughout the season each year, some of New York’s finest bars transform into winter wonderlands of their very own, while clever pop-up bars dot the city like baubles on a tree. Though it’s not yet clear what the bar scene will look like in NYC this December, we’ve already got visions of sugar plum-inspired cocktails dancing in our heads. So in honor of all of creative bartenders and entrepreneurs keeping the New York drinking scene running, we’re highlighting the best places to get your holiday cheer into gear this season and looking back at some of our favorites from the year past.
The pop up Christmas bar sensation that started at Nico de Soto’s East Village hub Mace will return to New York on November 18, 2020 with two East Village locations—the original Mace location and at The Cabinet on 9th St.
505 E 12th St and 649 E 9th St in Manhattan
Each year, German restaurant Rolf’s gets absolutely covered in decorations come Christmas time. The holiday wonderland can be mobbed at all hours, so stopping in just for a glass of mulled wine or some egg nog might be the best move.
281 Third Avenue.
(2019) Holiday Spectacular at The NoMad Bar
Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, this Sunday evening holiday pop up at The NoMad Bar has something on their dual cocktail lists for you, like the Lump of Coal made with mezcal, oloroso sherry, fig leaf, and verjus or the Candy Cane Colada with absinthe, Branca Menta, coconut, and pineapple, as well as group “explosions” like the Santa’s Little Helpers with vodka, sherry, passionfruit, vanilla and lime for 6 people.
Every Sunday from from 5PM-12AM, November 24-December 22nd, 2019. 10 W 28th Street.
(2019) City Winery’s Winter Igloos
Take a break from your holiday shopping and slip into one of the heat, full-service igloos at City Winery’s pop-up at Rockefeller Center. In addition to the locally-crafted wines on tap, mulled wine, and hot cider, the igloos, which will be in place until New Years, also offer a view of the iconic Rockefeller Center skating rink for a magical seasonal outing.
Rockefeller Plaza. Reservations for up to 8 people can be made in advance through [email protected]
(2019) Nog Shop at Quality Meats
Get your nog on through the month of December at the pop up Nog Shop taking over the Smoking Section of Quality Meats’ bar which will feature festive reimaginings of holiday classics, like an apres ski-themed sangria, and, of course, a housemade Quality Nog.
57 W 58th Street.
(2019) Snow Globe in the Sky at Ophelia
The greenhouse terrace bar Ophelia at the top of the Beekman Tower transforms its 360-degree Manhattan views into a glittering snow globe again this holiday season with gleaming strands of snowflakes and lights strung from the ceiling and wintery touches like garlands and sheepskin seat covers. Wintery cocktails like the Rising Star with cognac, rum, cinnamon, and lotus cookie infused cream will feature as well as desserts like churros.
Open through February 28, 2020. Beekman Tower, 3 Mitchell Place.
(2019) Jack’s Champagne Club
Those looking for a luxurious respite from midtown shopping can pop into this hidden holiday champagne bar at The St. Regis New York. For the season, the hotel’s Cognac Room will be transformed into a champagne hub in homage to the St. Regis founder John “Jack” Jacob Astor IV featuring high-end bubbly like Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, Dom Perignon, Krug, and Moet MCIII alongside canapés and small bites.
Open 4 PM to 10 PM Tuesday-Saturday. 2 East 55 Street.
(2019) Après Arlo
Get a taste of the French Alps in the transformed outdoor courtyard of the Arlo SoHo hotel, where heated cedar cabins offer cozy hideaways to sip from a full menu of hot toddies like the Top of the Mountain Toddy made with whiskey, caramel, and apple cider, or the Chai Chalet Toddy with cognac, cranberry juice, and chai tea.
Open through March 15, 2020. 231 Hudson Street.
(2019) Snowday in Brooklyn
The bar and dining room at Williamsburg’s Sunday in Brooklyn will transform into a snowy ski chalet this year, complete with holiday decor and festive menus. A full complement of wintery cocktails and treats will be on offer including the Polar Bear Club with cachaca, aquavit, banana, pineapple, coconut, and lime, the Partridge In A Pear Tree with reposado tequila, pear brandy, Amontillado sherry, grapefruit, celery root, and cinnamon, and the Gelt-y Pleasures made from bacon fat-washed rum, Amaro Montenegro, poblano pepper, tonka bean, whey, and gelt. Seasonal nibbles will also be on offer, like a Raclette beer cheese fondue.
Open Sun-Thurs, 5PM-11PM; Fri & Sat, 5PM-12AM. 348 Wythe Avenue or 68 South 2nd Street.
(2019) Midwinter Night’s Dream
For a touch of amour, PHD Terrace at Dream Midtown’s enclosed rooftop bar has transformed into a romantic winter garden inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream including scores of twinkle lights and lush installations of gold and white florals including a flower-filled walkway that practically begs to be Instagrammed. Seasonal tastes will include an oversized Nutella stuffed cookie that serves 12, an ornament filled with Peppermint Mojito, and a glittering Goldtini.
210 West 55th Street.
(2019) Clicquot Chalet at Mr. Purple
What could be more elegant that sipping Veuve Clicquot in an exclusive ski lodge? Taking in the Manhattan skyline as you do it. That’s exactly the experience that the famed champagne house and Lower East Side staple Mr. Purple are aiming for with their winter collaboration, which transforms Mr. Purple into a festive après ski themed experience. Purple deer heads and digital fireplaces deck out the main area, while the terrace gains a Veuve Clicquot ski lodge-themed seating bubble and a champagne bar.
Hotel Indigo Lower East Side, 180 Orchard Street.
(2019) The Late Late’s Tacky Winter Takeover
This holiday, you can snag some seasonal kitsch at Soho’s The Late Late with oodles of fun, funky decorations and specialty seasonal cocktails including the Oh, F…udge! with Hennessy VSOP, Green Chartreuse, hot chocolate, marshmallow meringue and peppermint candy. Throughout the season the bar will also be accepting Toys for Tots donations, culminating in their 5th annual holiday party on December 19th—all you need to get in to the music-, poetry-, and fun-filled bash? A toy donation for Toys for Tots. Now that’s some Christmas cheer that lasts.
Open through January 20, 2020. 159 E Houston Street.
(2019) The Winter Rose Garden
If all the snow and ice is getting you down, immerse yourself in a floral wonderland this season at this ruby red installation at The Lobby Bar at Dream Downtown. Transformed with 15,000 red roses, floral furniture, decor, candles, and more, the bar also sports some appropriately rosy libations, including a Primrose Cider with sparkling rosé, Barking Irons Applejack, cinnamon syrup, lemon Juice, and a rose ice cube.
Open through March 2020. 355 W 16th Street.
(2019) Sippin’ Santa
If Santa wore board shorts, he’d fit right in at Sippin’ Santa, a tropical Christmas bar that Boilermaker will morph into for the holiday season. Specialty tiki-themed cocktails by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and bartender Brad Smith will be on the menu, including a wintery riff on the classic piña colada.
13 First Avenue.
(2019) The Pink Holiday Pop-up at Moxy Times Square
The second floor of the Moxy Times Square leans on a less traditional holiday color for its seasonal pop up—pink. The space is done up with a futuristic holiday feel in shades of pink, including pink cocktails like the Pink Velvet Hot Chocolate. Upstairs, the Magic Hour rooftop bar will also think pink with hot pink twinkle lights, oversized rotating mirror balls, and human-size festive bears
485 7th Avenue.
(2019) Donner & Blitzen’s Reindeer Lounge
This rotating holiday lounge (it originally popped up in the East Village in 2017 before moving to Greenpoint last year) is taking over Bell Book & Candle in the West Village this holiday season with over the top seasonal decor and playful holiday-themed cocktails like the Coal For Christmas made with mint-infused vodka, lemon, coconut, and inky charcoal or the Scrooged with rosemary-infused bourbon, rum, and holiday spices.
Open through December 25, 2019, Mon-Thurs 4PM-2AM, Friday-Sunday 12PM-2AM. 141 w 10th Street.
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