When the snow hits New York and the wind chill means you’re basically crying when you finally step into the office, we get that painting the town red may be the last thing on your mind. But venture out for a drink when temperatures drop, and you’ll be rewarded with emptier bars, one-on-one time with mixologists, and warming boozy beverages well worth the trek. Here are our favorite cold-weather concoctions, which we promise are more fun at warding off chills than sitting at home with your rattling radiator as company.
Vietnamese Coffee, Grown-Up Style
Whiskey Soda Lounge
While it may bill itself as the waiting are for getting into Andy Ricker’s popular Brooklyn eatery Pok Pok, Whiskey Soda Lounge's inventive cocktail menu makes it completely worthy of a visit of its own. Skilled bartenders whip up winter weather drinks such as hot buttered scotch and a yuzu-honey whiskey hot toddy, but our personal pick is the boozy take on Vietnamese coffee, which spikes the sweet caffeinated beverage with brandy. Trust us, both the booze and the caffeine will have you buzzing.
In the winter, the Hudson Hotel transforms into Hudson Lodge, an urban ski resort–themed bar complete with taxidermy, faux fur throws and nightly snowfalls. Its three warmed cocktails—including a delicious ginger toddy crafted from whiskey and homemade ginger wine—are perfect for sipping on sheep-skin pillows alongside cheese fondue or s’mores. (Need we s’more?)
Renowned for its over-the-top Christmas displays—including garlands, icicles, and more twinkly lights than you can count (even sober)— Rolf's takes celebratory holiday boozing pretty seriously. Go to the Gramercy German joint during off-hours for the best chance of snagging a seat, and order the hot-spiced wine, a warming mix of vino, citrus, sugar and spice.
As implied by its name, Distilled takes its spirits seriously, looking to the past for inspiration. During the colder months, the Tribeca bar serves up a brandy snifter of its mulled mystic, which utilizes mead, a honey wine sometimes considered the ancestor of all fermented drinks (also found in The Hobbit, for all the bookworms out there). Combined with fall spices such as nutmeg and allspice and topped with a lemon slice, the drink gets elevated from Middle Earth staple to present-day sipper, but we won’t judge if you grab a glass before catching Peter Jackson’s latest flick.
Booker & Dax
Leave it to the Momofuku Ssam–adjacent cocktail wizards at Booker & Dax to take three ingredients and transform them into a complex cocktail worthy of the winter months. The popular First Date may be served on-ice (a hand-cut cube, no less), but the combination of whiskey, dates and bitters sips like a longtime winter staple. Part old-fashioned, part something entirely new, we’d be more than happy to add this to our holiday cocktail roster. If you’re still craving some warmth, choose from any of the three cocktails on the bar’s “red hot poker” list.
Brooklyn’s Fort Defiance boats a whole roster of “hot helpers,” including a much-loved Irish coffee. If you’re looking to venture out, opt for a Kentucky Nightcap. Vanilla complements the sweet notes of Four Roses bourbon, which is then topped with steamed Battenkill Valley Creamery milk. We can’t think of a better way to say goodnight.