The best New York bars for winter: where to escape the cold

Some New York bars are better suited for winter drinking than others. Find out where you can seek refuge from the chilly temps with good beer and cocktails.

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  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    The best New York bars for winter

    Middle Branch

     

     

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    The best New York bars for winter

    Tradesman

  • The best New York bars for winter

    Beer Table

  • The best New York bars for winter

    Huckleberry Bar

     

  • Photograph: Courtesy of The Tippler

    The best New York bars for winter

    The Tippler

  • The best New York bars for winter

    The Vault at Pfaff's

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The best New York bars for winter

    Hair of the Dog

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

The best New York bars for winter

Middle Branch

 

 

When the barometer starts dropping, you might be tempted to stay in your apartment, but you’d be missing out. There are winter activities to enjoy, shops to raid and, of course, a multitude of drinkeries waiting to welcome you. Scroll through our list of the best New York bars for cold weather, including several spots in the best NYC neighborhoods.


RECOMMENDED: New York bars and cocktails for winter


Middle Branch

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Good for: chill, cocktails

Mixology trailblazer Sasha Petraske expands his influence to Midtown with this spin-off of West Village boite Little Branch. Delicate lighting fixtures illuminate embossed wallpaper and exposed brick in the two-floor space, where bartenders craft cocktails with a chemist’s precision. Request a drink with your preferred spirit or flavor profile (sour, sweet, refreshing and so on) and let them work their magic, or simply make a selection from the extensive bar menu. There’s plenty to choose from, including riffs on classic quaffs such as an Island Old-Fashioned (Zacapa aged rum, Velvet Falernum, Angostura bitters, cane syrup) and signature concoctions such as the East Side (gin, lime, mint, cucumber).

  1. 154 E 33rd St, (between Lexington and Third Aves)
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Tradesman

  • Price band: 1/4

Good for: groups

Salvaged wood paneling and pegboard walls adorned with vintage tools give this drinkery a rustic feel. Co-owners Larissa Varges and Marek Gregorski stock their bar with locally made liquors, including Harvest Spirit’s Cornelius applejack from the Hudson Valley and COMB’s Honey gin from Westchester County. Brewhounds are well served by a dozen taps that dispense a selection of New York suds from the likes of KelSo Beer Company of Brooklyn. Claim a chair at the long oak counter or one of the small tables in the back and shake off the chill.

  1. 222 Bushwick Ave, (between Meserole St and Montrose Ave)
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Beer Table

  • Critics choice

Good for: beer, groups

Beer fiend or not, you’ll want to rely on the friendly staff to guide you and your friends through the menu of rare and obscure beers, as some choices are more accessible than others. Among those we’ve sampled, the De Dolle Dulle Teve—a foamy, honey-sweet Abbey Tripel and served from the keg—goes down easy, but the Swiss, herbaceous La Meule from Brasserie Des Franches-Montagnes could be more of a challenge to the uninitiated. The prices may seem steep at first glance, but remember: ’Tis the season to treat yourself.

  1. 427B Seventh Ave, (between 14th and 15th Sts)
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Huckleberry Bar

Good for: cocktails, chill

There’s something for every boozer at this easygoing lounge. The bar’s cocktail menu has staples like the Gold Rush (Evan Williams bourbon, lemon juice, honey) and modern takes that nod to the Kings County locale, such as the Brooklyn Sling (Brooklyn gin, Hardy VS cognac, sorrel-hibiscus liqueur, Bénédictine, fresh lime juice and simple syrup). But as the holidays approach, the most spirited night to visit is Tuesday, when the coterie holds its weekly Punch Party. Rally your crew for $5 cups of the rotating concoction and forget there’s another three days left in the workweek.

  1. 588 Grand St, (at Lorimer St)
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The Tippler

Good for: groups, cocktails

Use this expansive lounge from Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay (Tippling Bros.) as a refuge from the Chelsea Market and Meatpacking District holiday crowds. Even at its most packed, there’s still a fair amount of room to maneuver, which means you won’t have too much trouble posting up at the long marble bar. The menu includes a number of affordable draft and bottled beers, plus wines from around the world, but you’d be remiss not to try at least one of the sophisticated specialty cocktails. The Booty Collins (gunpowder tea–infused Belvedere vodka, passionfruit and lemon juices, yohimbe extract, cayenne) appeals to adventurous revelers, while traditionalists might prefer the cheekily named but relatively straightforward Gin & Chronic (Plymouth gin, hops, spiced lime, tonic).

  1. Chelsea Market, 425 W 15th St, (between Ninth and Tenth Aves)
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The Vault at Pfaff's

Good for: chill, cocktails

If this spot’s former incarnation as a beer cellar was good enough for Walt Whitman, its current form—a handsome cocktail lounge—is good enough for us modern plebes. Find a seat at the century-old white-oak bar, give yourself a moment to appreciate the restored iron columns and granite ceilings from 1855, then take stock of the drink menu. Our favorite among the 25 options, which are divided into “homegrown” and “classic” beverages, is the fizzy Champagne Charles, a festive combination of dry Ayala Brut Majeur, floral June liqueur and house-made cranberry bitters.

  1. 643 Broadway, (at Bleecker St), 10012
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Hair of the Dog

  • Price band: 1/4

Good for: beer, groups

Daily specials abound at this beercentric bar from the founders of Jake’s Dilemma, Down the Hatch and other sudsy bastions. On Monday nights, drafts are $1 and domestic pitchers are $8; on Thursdays, grab a bucket for $12. Sunday’s BYO coffee special allows anyone who brings in a cup of joe to score a half-price spike of liquor. Instead of Pabst-swilling LES regulars, the crowd skews toward sports enthusiasts who fixate on 25 flat screens and three projectors. If you’re not a Giants or Jets fan, turn your attention to the sizable roster of mostly American brews; you’ll find at least 11 on draft and about 20 by the can or bottle.

  1. 168 Orchard St, (at Stanton St), 10002
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