Bars That Are Popping Up This Holiday Season

Image: Miracle on 9th Street

It’s that time of year when many of New York’s bars transform themselves, including their drink menus, into celebrations of the Season of Lights. Think of it as the design equivalent of dressing up as Santa Claus. Here is a list of places, some old, some new, that go to great effort to exude the holiday spirit.

No bar captures the mood of the season better than The Cabinet, in Alphabet City, which metamorphoses around this time of year into “Miracle on 9th Street.” For the duration of the pop-up, which runs into January, the regular bar menu gives way to signature cocktails such as the Christmapolitan — a blend of vodka, elderflower, and spiced cranberry sauce, accented with lime, rosemary, and absinthe mist — and the Carol Barrel: Irish whiskey, gingerbread, aromatic and wormwood bitters, and orange essence. Many of the libations are ladled into vintage Santa mugs. Miracle on 9th Street, 649 E. 9th Street, 347-866-7739.

Have you been naughty this year? If so, you should be sure to stop in at Bell Book & Candle on 10th Street and order up “Coal for Christmas,” a cocktail that combines mint-infused vodka, lemon, coconut, and charcoal (yes, charcoal). An alternative is “Naughty List,” which contains Grey Goose Vodka, espresso, and gingerbread. Bell Book & Candle, 141 W. 10th Street (bet. Greenwich Ave. and Waverly Pl.), 212-414-2355.

City Winery in Rockefeller Plaza will once again offer its full-service heated igloos, which accommodate up to eight people who can gaze out at the winter wonderland while sipping holiday-themed drinks including regular and spiked hot apple cider, mulled wine, and hot chocolate. The venue will be open daily through Dec. 31 from 11 a.m. to midnight. City Winery is located at Rockefeller Center on the North Plaza bet. 50th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Igloo (Image: City Winery)

“I love Christmas and all of the Christmas bars that pop up this time of year, but I always felt like a tourist. There was never really anything for someone like me that wasn’t raised with Christmas.” So says Naomi Levy, founder of the Maccabee Bar, New York’s first Hanukkah-themed bar. Drinks offered by the pop-up include the Latke Sour, made with apple brandy, potato, lemon, egg white, and Havana & Hide Barrel bitters. Maccabee Bar, Ollie West Village, 64 Downing Street, 917-484-1302.

Ophelia, on the 26th floor of the building at 3 Mitchell Place, has long been a part of “hidden New York,” if for no other reason than that most New Yorkers have never heard of Mitchell Place. The interiors, designed to resemble a snow globe, should help you get in the spirit, but if you need further inducement, order a Pain Killa: Don Julio Silver Tequila, ginger, lemon, and essence of mezcal. Ophelia, 3 Mitchell Place, 26th floor (49th St. and First Ave.), 212-980-4796.

As the mercury dips lower another venue worthy of consideration is Loreley Biergarten on the the Lower East Side. The bar and restaurant lays claim to having the neighborhood’s largest heated patio. The drink menu helps chase the chill with offerings that include Bourbon Hot Cider, made with Woodchuck Amber Cider, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, simple syrup, and accents of mint and lemon. Loreley Biergarten, 7 Rivington Street (bet. Bowery and Chrystie St.), 212-253-7077.

A couple of non-traditional additions to this year’s list include Santa’s Secret in New York, in Hudson Yards, The ultimate goal of this interactive experience for adults is to find Santa’s secret lair, which turns out to be a vintage speakeasy featuring scantily clad dancers, a live band, and Christmas-themed cocktails. Tickets are required. Santa’s Secret in New York, Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens (350 Eleventh Avenue at Hudson Blvd. East).

If your idea of Christmas includes naughty elves and evil snowmen, then you’ll want to know about Krampus’ Cove — an immersive cocktail experience that centers on the diabolical schemes of Santa’s nemesis, who is half-goat, half-monster. The 2-hour event, which takes place in the Someday Bar in Boerum Hill, opens with a welcome cocktail — the first of many creepy holiday-themed potions, offered along with soundtrack of unexpected versions of your favorite (or least favorite) carols. Tickets can be purchased here. Krampus’ Cove, Someday Bar, 364 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 929-480-8454.

See also…