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The best holiday bars in NYC

We (and some of our Time Out Tastemakers) visited the holiday bars in NYC that will put you in the Christmas spirit

By Time Out Tastemakers and Time Out New York contributors |
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Photograph: Courtesy Miracle on 12th Street

Want to get lit like a Christmas tree? The best holiday bars in NYC are here to help. After you tire of ice skating and shopping at the city’s holiday markets, pop into one of these watering holes that have undergone festive makeovers. These spots have decked their bars with boughs of holly, lights and more holiday kitsch as they tempt revelers to give into their naughtiest sugar cravings. Spiked hot chocolate with a side of Christmas cookies? Yeah, you don't have to twist our arm. Normally, we can't resist a bar with a theme, but we've been busy elves lately. That's why we asked a few of our trusted Time Out Tastemakers to try a few of the most notable holiday bars in town. Don’t know where to go or what to order first? We'll steer you and your sleigh to the tastiest cocktail at each spot.

RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to Christmas in New York

Holiday bars in NYC

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Photograph: Courtesy Sarah Boisjoli
Bars, Cocktail bars

Donner & Blitzen’s Reindeer Lounge

Greenpoint
3 out of 5 stars

The decor: This joint offers the right amount of holiday cheesiness—yes, that includes fake fireplaces, gaudy wreaths, a crazy tree and a whopping 10,000 Christmas lights. Order The: Nog-Gonna Make It to Work Tomorrow. I’m not a fan of eggnog, but this version wasn’t too milky, and there’s enough rum to balance out the sweetness. Perfect for: Grabbing drinks with friends in a place that reminds you of the good parts of being home for the holidays. —Lindsey Washington, Tastemaker

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Photograph: Courtesy Melissa Hom
Bars

Miracle on 12th Street

East Village

The decor: The wrapped gifts hanging from the ceiling, the staff wearing Santa hats and the menorah displayed in the Hanukkah corner definitely put us in the holiday spirit. Order the: Bad Santa, the bar’s version of a hot toddy. After just one sip, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy. Perfect for: A casual drink or two for groups of four to eight people. The food offerings consist of small plates that are either fried or breaded, so skip those and go straight for the delish beverages. Paige Alderoty, Tastemaker

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Photograph: Courtesy Sara Kubida
Restaurants, American

Snowday in Brooklyn

Williamsburg

The decor: The Williamsburg hot spot has transformed part of its Swiss-chalet–esque dining room into an over-the-top Christmas card with dangling tree ornaments, a roaring fireplace and bartenders in holiday-themed onesies. Order the: Polar Bear Club, a frosty piña colada built just for winter, served in your own personal honey-bear bottle. Perfect for: Waiting out a snowstorm with friends, while you play Cards Against Humanity and eat stroopwafels with beer cheese. —Jake Cohen, Food and Drink Editor

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Photograph: Courtesy The Late Late
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Late Late’s Tacky Winter Takeover

Lower East Side

The decor: The twinkling lights, bows and tinsel are the perfect backdrop for the wall-mounted portraits of iconic 1960s figures and scenic shots of Ireland. It’s tacky enough­—but not too tacky! (Though the bartender’s ugly MILLER LITE Christmas sweater is another story.) Order the: Griswold Fashioned (bourbon, pumpkin syrup, walnut bitters, a cinnamon stick and an orange twist). It puts a cozy slant on a traditional old-fashioned. Perfect for: Folks who want to escape the Lower East Side’s loud party scene for a bar that’s more laid back. —Siobhan Chrétien, Tastemaker

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Photograph: Courtesy The Skinny Bar
Bars, Lounges

The Helliday Inn

Lower East Side

The decor: Christmas grunge. When you first stumble in, the place looks like any other holiday bar with lights and ornaments. Take a closer look, and you’ll see that there are dolls hanging from the ceiling and an angry Santa in the corner. What to order: Frozen drinks like Santa’s Shit Don’t Stink the Flying Elf. Is there anything better than drinking a spiked milkshake topped with a candy cane or gingerbread man? Perfect for: If you're the Grinch of your friend group who wants to end up on Santa's naughty list (the twisted Christmas carols will put you in a grinding mood), this is the spot for you. —Bridget Lo and KC Cibran, Tastemakers

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Photograph: Courtesy Moxy Times Square
Hotels

Moxy’s Pink Holiday

Midtown West
4 out of 5 stars

The decor: The Moxy Hotel’s second floor is decked out in pink for the holidays. That includes an all-pink Christmas tree, a fireplace and even a piano! Order the: Red Velvet Hot Chocolate. The drink is pink (of course) and made with vanilla vodka and edible glitter. Perfect for: Pregaming before heading to your sixth Christmas party of the year. —Mary Brownlee, Tastemaker 

Want to know where to eat on Christmas?

Kings Co Imperial
Photograph: Courtesy Levi Miller
Restaurants

Where to eat Christmas dinner in NYC

You’ve hit the best holiday pop-ups, gawked over the festive Christmas window displays and bought tickets for the best Christmas shows—now all you have to do is find great restaurants for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.

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