Winter in New York City can be tough — bitter winds, slushy sidewalks, walking to the subway in a massive winter parka. But these frigid temps and grey days (will February ever end?!) are the perfect excuses to escape to a cozy bar and warm up with a cocktail. To get you through the rest of winter, we’ve rounded up some of the coziest bars in the city for the coldest nights.
Photo of The Auction House by Troy Hahn
The Auction House
Though the Second Avenue Subway has ushered in a slew of more hip establishments, the Upper East Side has historically been known for upscale bars and Irish pubs. But the Auction House has long been a unique find in this neighborhood. With exposed brick, gold tin ceilings, red velvet couches, and classical art adorning the walls, it feels like a Victorian lounge and an intimate spot to spend an evening. The Auction House is tucked away on a residential side street, making it all the more secluded and cozy. Pro tip: During the weekends, the bar tends to enforce a 25-and-older policy.
Photo of Valerie by Liz Clayman
This Art Deco cocktail bar in Midtown oozes luxury. Yellow lighting behind the bar and on the stairs gives the place a gilded feeling, while tufted leather seating, tile floors, and an arched ceiling drive home the luxe aesthetic. Also, it’s a spacious bi-level bar, and we all know how much space is welcome in crowded Midtown. You can choose to drink in the Gatsby Lounge or upstairs at the Blushing Bar. And there’s also a restaurant area for dinner.
Photo of The Garret West by Paige Hogan
You’ll find a few locations of the trendy Garret around Manhattan, but each has its own vibe, and none is cozier than the West Village spot. Somewhat of a speakeasy, the entrance to the Garret West is inside a Five Guys. Above the burger joint, you’ll find a narrow, dimly lit cocktail bar with a fireplace, tin ceiling, and booths made of reclaimed wood. Antique frames decorate the walls, giving the place a rustic-meets-Victorian feel. As for the drinks, the innovative cocktails are made with unique ingredients like Matcha green tea and fermented pineapple.
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This stylish West Village spot takes up two floors of a 100-year-old rowhouse. Upstairs, Bobo is an adorable French restaurant. Downstairs, it’s a cozy little cocktail bar with exposed brick and wood beam ceilings. The intimate setting is perfect for a romantic date, and you can even rent out the area for a chic private event.
Photo courtesy of The Jane Hotel
The Jane Hotel has a storied history; it housed survivors after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Today, the West Village hotel is still in service, but the main draw is the Jane Ballroom, an electric, extravagant bar and lounge area that transports you to Colonial India. A disco ball presides over rich leather and velvet textiles, palm trees, chandeliers, and mounted big-game taxidermy. On weekend nights, the lounge resembles a rich kid’s house party when mom and dad are out of town. But during off-hours, it’s a cozy and unique spot to relax with a drink.
Photo of The Backroom by Troy Hahn
A Lower East Side staple, The Backroom is a classic New York City speakeasy — no really, it was actually a real-life speakeasy during the prohibition era. The bar claims to have hosted a number of Hollywood stars as well as gangsters like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky during the 1920s. On Monday nights, there is a password required to enter, which can be found on the Backroom’s Facebook page. An unassuming storefront leads you down into an alleyway and into a dark room oozing with vintage decadence–velvet couches, patterned wallpaper, crystal chandeliers, Persian rugs, and a fireplace. The bar is famous for serving its cocktails in adorable painted teacups.
Photo of St. Mazie by Henry Hargreaves
This cozy little Williamsburg jazz bar is perfect for a date night or just to warm up on a cold evening. During the day, St. Mazie is popular for its jazz brunch, but you’ll find live music there just about anytime you go. The decor has a rustic garden vibe that manages to be warm and inviting without dark, cumbersome paint colors or fabrics. Sip a glass of champagne or a craft cocktail while enjoying some of the bar’s snack orders like house pickles, beet tahini, or oysters.
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With dark wood booths, mounted antlers, and a cozy fireplace, Black Rabbit is like a woodland hunting cabin in the middle of bustling Greenpoint. An unpretentious interior is complemented by a simple menu of comfort food like bratwurst and Frito pie. And on Tuesdays, trivia buffs can try their hand at “the world’s nerdiest trivia night.”
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Black Mountain Wine House
You’ve never seen a cuter storefront in New York City than Black Mountain Wine House in Carroll Gardens. With a wood plank exterior, stained glass windows, a pile of firewood, and Adirondack chairs greeting you at the front door, you’ll feel like you’re away for a country retreat. Inside, the bucolic ideality continues with rustic country house decor, a fireplace, and tons of wine lining the walls.
Photo courtesy of Thyme Bar
Tucked away in the cellar of a pre-war building in Flatiron, the Thyme Bar is an intimate spot for innovative cocktails. Formerly a 1920s gambling hall and speakeasy, “the underground hideaway” feels far removed from the bustling city but is really just steps from Madison Square Park. Thyme Bar’s dim-lighting, modern decor, and botanical-inspired beverages will make you forget about the frigid temperatures above ground.
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Editor’s note: The original version of this story was published on February 18, 2020, and has since been updated.