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: Michael Kirby Smith

    The best New York bars for winter

    Sputyten Duyvil

  • The best New York bars for winter

    d.b.a.

  • Photograph: Talia Simhi

    The best New York bars for winter

    Char No. 4

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    The best New York bars for winter

    Donna

  • The best New York bars for winter

    The Richardson

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    The best New York bars for winter

    PDT

  • The best New York bars for winter

    Jelsomino

  • Photograph: Ravi Leider

    The best New York bars for winter

    Bantam

Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

The best New York bars for winter

Sputyten Duyvil

Spuyten Duyvil

  • Critics choice

Good for: beer, lively

Another hub for beer nerds, Joe Carroll’s tiny spot typically pours just six drafts and one cask at a time so that the suds are always fresh. Bottles are another story—those number well over 100 and are primarily culled from small European breweries. You can sample old-world rarities such as the thick, sherrylike Samichlaus lager from Austria or cellar-aged Cantillon lambics of various vintages. Supplement your drinking with one of the smoked meats, pâtés, cheeses and terrines.

  1. 359 Metropolitan Ave, (at Havemeyer St)
More info

d.b.a.

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Good for: beer, groups

For more than a decade, this bastion of democratic drinking has straddled the line between beer geekery and the mainstream. True connoisseurs will gravitate toward the 20-deep draft selection or the encyclopedic bottle list. You can find choices from all seven Trappist breweries, plus the ultra-alcoholic Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (at 18 percent ABV, it’s one of the most potent beers on the market). Rarities such as the British cellar-aged Thomas Hardy’s Ale also punctuate the menu. • 41 First Ave between 2nd and 3rd Sts (212-475-5097) • 113 N 7th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-6006)

Char No. 4

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Good for: cocktails

More than 150 varieties of American whiskey line the shelves of this Southern-influenced bar and restaurant, which also stocks a plethora of options from around the world. Order a neat pour of Mellow Corn or Jefferson’s Presidential 18-year bourbon, or sample the excellent cocktails that highlight the brown liquor. Among our favorites is the barrel-aged Sazerac, which combines Rittenhouse rye with sugar, bitters and absinthe. Oenophiles won’t be left wandering the cold streets of Brooklyn—there’s an ample selection of international vinos, though most are sold by the bottle.

  1. 196 Smith St, (between Baltic and Warren Sts)
Book online

Donna

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Good for: beer, cocktails

An instant hot spot when it opened this summer, the cheery gathering place is equal parts elegant nook and welcoming den, replete with arched ceilings, dark-wood floors and curving counters. Though you’ll find a list of affordable, globe-spanning beers and wine, the bar’s raison d’etre is cocktails. This time of year, we’re partial to the slightly spicy Scarlet Fever (ancho-chili–infused Scarlet Ibis rum, El Dorado 5 Years rum, pineapple and lime juices, and cinnamon-bark syrup).

  1. 27 Broadway, (at Dunham Pl)
More info

The Richardson

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Good for: cocktails, chill, groups

Bartenders at this haunt excel in classic cocktails: The bar’s version of an old-fashioned doses an Angostura-soaked sugar cube with a pour of single-barrel bourbon, while the French 75 tops London dry gin, sugar and lemon juice with a float of effervescent sparkling wine. That’s not to say there isn’t something for those craving a more contemporary quaff; the house cocktails showcase such offbeat ingredients as plum liqueur, which stars in the Damson Gin Fizz (Damson plum gin liqueur, Plymouth gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar). Hunker down with friends in the subdued back corner for a predinner drink and share a spread of artisanal cheese and cured meat.

  1. 451 Graham Ave, (at Richardson St)
More info

PDT

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Good for: cocktails, chill

Despite the rigamarole required to get in (day-of reservations are the only kind accepted, and they’re a must), mixologist Jim Meehan’s neospeakeasy remains one of the city’s coziest and least pretentious drinking destinations in the city. You can’t go wrong with any of the innovative nips on the menu, whether you order the bar’s signature old-fashioned, made with bacon-infused Four Roses bourbon, or something newer like the Vesper riff made with hops-infused vodka.

  1. 113 St. Marks Pl, (between First Ave and Ave A)
More info

Jelsomino

  • Price band: 3/4

Good for: cocktails, groups, lively

Tucked below the Dream Hotel, this Moscow-based karaoke franchise promises a baller evening—and the hefty price tag to go with it. Make the most of your splurge (and fuel your Russian-music binge) by ordering one of the subterranean den’s vodkacentric cocktails, such as the Sparkling Combiere (prosecco, Russian Standard vodka, raspberry puree). If someone’s bankrolling your night, there’s also a luxe bottle-service option: Russian Standard paired with osetra caviar. Either way, the energetic MC is there to bolster your courage (wallflowers and acrophobics beware: the venue’s stage is elevated—and front and center).

  1. 204 W 55th St, (between Seventh and Eighth Aves), 10019
More info

Bantam

  • Price band: 3/4

Good for: groups, lively

Inspired by the 2006 film Marie Antoinette, the decor inside this new venture from nightlife honcho Steve Lewis channels an 18th-century French parlor, with blue brocade walls and ornate mirrors. Tufted leather banquettes ring the dimly lit space and offer ample seating, while a sparse cluster of tables leaves plenty of room for dancing (DJ sets begin after 11pm nightly). Order your beverage of choice at the illuminated, stained-glass-topped bar, then stake out a spot on the temperature-controlled patio to boogie or people-watch.

  1. 17 Stanton St, (between Bowery and Chrystie St), 10002
More info

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