cocktail on a smooth wooden table, with a fire reflection in the background

Grandlife guide

Where to Drink Downtown this Winter

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Chilling out when it’s literally freezing outside sounds contradictory, yet some downtown NYC bars offer perfectly warming environments to nurse cocktails and kick back. We’ve lined up five of the coziest wintertime spots—yep, some with fireplaces—to get your Hot Toddy, mulled Glögg, and evocative seasonal cocktails (or straight-up spirits) during the height of sweater-weather season.

Tiny’s & the Bar Upstairs

Built in 1810, this former leather trading store turned Tribeca multi-room restaurant and bar features a working fireplace on the ground floor towards the rear. Be sure to request or reserve a seat in this brick-walled space, which absolutely smacks of history and modern tastiness.

Warm Up With: Kissed By A Rose—a Thanksgiving-inspired concoction from Bar Director Zachary Cramer. “I make a cranberry sauce with thyme, vanilla extract, water, and some sugar,” Cramer explains. “Then we add vodka, lemon juice, and top it off with sparkling rose. It adds a real cool complexity to a vodka cranberry, and evokes family memories.”

135 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10013; T: (212) 374-1135

The Parlor at The Dead Rabbit

Ringing in at number 16 on last year’s coveted The World’s 50 Best Bars list, the FiDi’s Dead Rabbit bounced back better than ever following a fire this past summer, with renovations and a most welcome expansion that accommodates another 125 patrons on its bustling ground level. Dead Rabbit’s no reservations, seating-only second-floor Parlor bar feels straight out of Ireland. Decked out in rustic pub wood and leather-topped stools and seats, it is well worth the waiting list even on the most blustery evening.

Warm Up With: While its cream-topped Irish coffee is the thing of legend (and always available), try this winter’s hot cocktail, The Life of Reilly. Spanish brandy, Madeira, macadamia nut, Fernet menthe, cacao, and a cream float top.

30 Water St, New York, NY 10004; T: (646) 422-7906

Waverly Inn

The West Village’s buzzy Waverly Inn gets some of its heat from the celebrities and VIPs that frequent this restaurant and bar all year round, but wintertime sees its fireplace bring even more warmth and glow to the dimly lit, intimate environs (which began life as a tavern and bordello during the mid-1800s). “It’s very lived in,” says bartender Peter Pavia. “You have over 100 years of history behind you, and walking in the door you get the feel of about every one of those years.”

Warm Up With: Sure, there’s a Hot Toddy, but, as Pavia says, “what’s really good to drink at wintertime is scotch….I also really love and love to serve the Armagnac, and if someone else is paying for it, a vintage Armagnac.”

16 Bank St, New York, NY 10014; T: (917) 828-1154

The Back Room

Dating back to the prohibition era, The Back Room—aka The Lower East Side Toy Company—retains the look and feel of its resplendent 1920s yesteryears, including a brick fireplace, velvet couches, tiny lamps and wall sconces, patterned wallpaper, wood floors, antique furnishings, and the discreet teacups its cocktails are served in.

Warm Up With: The PTZ, crafted with Michter’s US*1 Small Batch Bourbon, Cointreau, Angostura bitters, and vitamin C-rich orange and lime juice.

102 Norfolk St. New York, NY 10002 T: (212) 228-5098

Employees Only

Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2019, this West Village speakeasy, hidden behind a “Psychic” storefront, has been a fixture on The World’s 50 Best Bars every year since the list’s debut, and opened a Singapore location in 2016. Gorgeously retro décor and hardcore mixology mixed with dim lighting and an always-buzzing crowd, make the weather outside irrelevant.

Warm Up With: The Ginger Smash is updated seasonally. This winter’s iteration incorporates cranberries and immunity-boosting fresh ginger. There’s also an off-menu classic Hot Toddy if you’re determined to keep the mitts warm.

510 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014 T: (212) 242-3021

WORDS Lawrence Ferber

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