Yes, New York winters can be brutal, but they also offer the perfect opportunity to visit those warm and cozy places that we eschew in favor of rooftops and outdoor patios in the summer. Nothing’s more inviting on a frigid evening than nestling deep into your seat with a cocktail in hand, insulated from the windy mess outside as candlelight glows on every table. Here are the 6 best places to wait out winter.
The appeal of Freemans starts before you even enter the restaurant. Located at the end of an alley, you feel as if you are about to embark on a clandestine affair as you walk up to the “secret” venue. It bills itself as a “colonial tavern” and from the taxidermy-adorned walls to the maze of low-ceilinged rooms, it’s easy to feel transported back to another era (if that other era was populated with hipsters and Lower East Side creative types). Food, wine and cocktails are all spot-on and encourage lingering in this intimate-yet-lively joint.
This converted carriage house in Tribeca is tiny but still manages to be a scene on a nightly basis. Settle into one of the banquettes that flank the walls for a bit to eat, or stake your spot at the bar for one of their well-crafted cocktails. Rustic decor and low lighting set a romantic ambience, whether you’re on a date or on the search for your next one.
Celebrity magnet aside, this nouveau classic West Village resto, located in a brownstone on an otherwise quiet stretch of cobblestoned streets, packs ‘em in year round but feels especially right on a sub-freezing night. Taxidermy and tchotchkes galore adorn the ruby-hued walls and although it sounds claustrophobic, it feels like the living room of an eccentric yet fun-loving aunt. The Spotted Pig introduced the concept of “gastropub” to New York and puts out thoughtful food to match the well-curated wine and beverage list.
A subterranean cocktail lounge on the Lower East Side, this tiny spot has a playful cocktail menu that takes as much time to read through as a short novella. These guys are serious about their drinks and pay careful attention to every detail, from the type of ice used to the garnishes. The black banquettes invite you to settle in for a while; don’t be surprised when you finally notice the time and it’s much, much later than you thought.
One of the best spots to drink beer and cider in the city, Jimmy’s No. 43 is an underground mecca for hopheads. Low arched doorways give the sensation of being in a cave and the warm lighting bounces alluringly off the walls. Whether solo at the bar or at a large table with friends, you can comfortably ignore the winter storm raging outside. The venue also hosts numerous events and pop-ups throughout the week, adding an extra layer of eclectic fun.
On a quiet block in the East Village resides this quaint restaurant that is passionate about making wine fun and accessible. The venue’s arched ceilings and wood beams feel like an underground wine cellar in an Italian vineyard. The wine list, about 200 deep, travels all around Italy, encouraging new discoveries. Lest this sound intimidating to you, be assured that this joint brings a bit of rock and roll edge to vino. The website boasts a rock-heavy playlist, humorous educational videos and the restaurant itself hosts weekly wine classes.
Shana Sokol is a wine blogger, freelance writer and event planner living in New York City. She holds an Advanced Certificate from Wine and Spirit Education Trust and is a graduate of two programs from American Sommelier. Learn more at www.shanaspeakswine.com. Follow her musings on Twitter and Instagram (@ShanaSpeaksWine) or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShanaSpeaksWine.