Holiday Drinks Anyone?
The Strong Buzz Guide to celebrating everything in NYC in 2022.
If you know me, you know I love a holiday cocktail. It’s the perfect way to catch up with friends, or make time for someone special, whether it’s to celebrate the season, to toast to something wonderful, or just an excuse to put on clothing with zippers. Here are my favorite winter spots (fireplaces!!!) to ring in something wonderful.
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You Want the Glamour and Glitz of a Lobby Bar
When I think of getting dressed up and popping open a bottle of cold champagne, or drinking a gorgeous cocktail stirred slowly and poured into an elegant coup, I think of Temple Court Bar. Located in the Beekman Hotel, this lobby bar is magnificent, sitting at the base of an open ceiling that looks up through a maze of wrought iron deco staircases. The effect is completely mesmerizing and luxurious, with plenty of couches and armchairs tucked into corners and cozy nooks for getting close and larger sofas for gathering with large groups. The bar is super sexy, and runs along the entire length of the room so there’s a perfect perch waiting for you. My drink of choice here is the Paper Plane (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Montenegro, Lemon), and I’d be happy snacking on anything from Tom Colicchio’s seasonal American menu: steak tartare, caramelized onion dip, roasted skate wing, a Wagyu burger, or a board of ripe cheese.
You Crave a Taste of Old New York
There’s nothing better than Gage & Tolner to transport you back to old New York, and the bar downstairs at the restaurant is a truly exquisite place to have a civilized and beautifully mixed drink. But do make a point of putting on your best holiday frock and visiting the Sunken Harbor Club upstairs, an intimate nautical cocktail bar that grew from the pop-up held at owner St. John Frizell's Red Hook mainstay Fort Defiance. Chief Cocktail Officer Garret Richard is a master of spirits to move your soul, with a menu that includes two sections: one for activating a pleasant evening (try the Wave Break, a mojito with Panamanian rum and vermouth, laced with cucumber, peach, and lemon verbena), and another to get you to a the “abyss” with more potent cocktails like the White Zombie, an award-winning classic, with lots of white spirits, grapefruit, lime, and coconut. To snack on, have some salt cod fritters, coconut-braised ribs, and Devils on Horseback. Cheers!
You Want to Sing Karaoke
If you're like me and you like to sing, and you have a karaoke playlist on the ready (mine is all showtunes, and yes, I am happy to join you), I have two words for you: Insa baby! Souhi Kim and Ben Schneider’s fantastic Korean-American restaurant offers a great way to eat, drink, and sing over the holidays. While you can dine in the main dining room, and also in the karaoke rooms, I love getting the evening started at the bar at Insa.
This bar feels like a speakeasy, decked out in deep dark reds, with clamshell banquettes for fitting many friends. Be sure to try their version of the hot toddy, the Canned Heat: Suntory Toki Whiskey, House Made Orange Ginger Syrup, Fresh Lemon Juice, Topped with Hot Water. I also love the “Damn So Refreshing”—Butterfly Pea Flower Infused Damsoul Pine Soju, Orgeat, Yuzu Honey Syrup & Fresh Lime Juice. As far as what you’ll eat, maybe the Biscuits & Jjajang Gravy, a bowl of Brussels Sprouts dressed in Gochujang-Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Mint & Toasted Peanuts, or some Shishito Peppers, pan-fried & drizzled with Jjajang Vinaigrette & Toasted Breadcrumbs. And you must have the Insa Fried Chicken—double-fried & tossed in their signature Spicy-Sweet Sauce. Then go belt out the entire soundtrack to A Chorus Line. Oh wait, that’s me. Sorry, never mind.
You Want to Show off your Triple Axle and Have some Fondue
Whether you can do a triple axle or you’re like me and just hang onto the side of the ice rink for dear life, you will love Winter Village at Westlight, the seasonal rooftop pop-up at The William Vale that features cozy chalets and the Vale Ice Skating Rink. At Westlight’s Winter Village, you get your own private rooftop chalet (blankets and pillows and Santal fragrances included!) to drink gorgeous cocktails and share pots of bubbly fondue. Reserve early! Book here.
You Just Want to Live in a Log Cabin
If your idea of heaven is a rustic cabin in the Adirondacks where the only sounds are the cicadas, the tree frogs, and the whistle of the wind, make your way to Black Mountain Lodge. You’ll find it nestled on a quiet corner of Hoyt Street, a lonely log cabin waiting for you in Brooklyn. Inside you’ll find everything you need to commune with your inner-Hygge— a blazing fire from an oversized hearth, rustic tables and chairs, a long list of small-production wines by the glass, and a group-friendly menu of charcuterie and cheese, mac and cheese (that’s more like a fondue), meatballs and more.
You Love a Pink Townhouse and a Roaring Fire.
Three siblings, Ana, Matt & Jack Abramcyk, renovated an historic pink (!) 1810 bi-level townhouse in Tribeca to create Tiny’s. This neighborhood gem is the definition of cozy, and has an easy menu that goes well with holiday drinking—raw bar, beet-cured salmon, citrus ceviche, sharing plates of popcorn shrimp, kale chickpea fries, and mains like a big ole burger, a roasted half chicken, and a steak au poivre. To keep you cozy while you sip your wine or cocktails, Tiny’s keeps a roaring fire going all winter long, so you can warm up with a cocktail (The Meister is a nice one for the season: Apple Jack, Cranberry, Spiked Cinnamon Agave, Black Walnut) and thaw out next to your favorite person when winter starts to bite.