If you’re looking for the best Christmas bars in NYC this holiday season, then this list is for you.
It’s the Christmas season again, and there’s no better place to be for the holidays than in New York City. You can go visit the tree at Rockefeller Center, watch the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, or visit NYC’s best Holiday Markets (such as Winter Village at Bryant Park, Union Square Holiday Market, and Columbus Circle Holiday Market).
But if you’re looking for some festive bars and fun cocktails, then these places go all out to transform into the best Christmas bars in NYC.
Whether you are a local or just visiting the city, the cocktails at these bars are some of the best in the city. If you like things like bourbon hot apple cider, spiked hot chocolate, eggnog, or mulled wine, then these are the places to go.
And for the first time, a Hannukah bar is on this list!
Rolf's German Restaurant
If there’s one bar that is the most festive and beloved New York City holiday bar for the Christmas season, its Rolf’s German Bar. I would say Rolf’s is THE best Christmas bar in NYC to come during the holiday season. However, if the long line of people waiting to get in during the holiday season deters you, they keep the decorations up from November all the way until April. And with over 200,000 Christmas lights, porcelain dolls, and wreaths, the preparations start months ahead of time.
The holiday bar menu includes hot mulled wine (Glühwein), warm apple cider, and spiked eggnog. They also have a large menu of German schnapps and liqueurs. The food is pretty expensive here (for example, Wiener Schnitzel is $42.95 and the bratwurst with sauerkraut mashed potatoes is $32.95).
Reservations at Rolf’s: They are currently fully booked for December 1-25th but have availability after that. All reservations are made by calling them directly at (212)477-4750. The bar is first come first serve but a line will form quickly so I recommend coming right when they open at noon.
Alternative: If the line at Rolf’s is too long, you can walk down 3rd Ave just two short blocks to Paddy Maguire’s Ale House. They don’t have holiday themed cocktails or serve food (it’s more like a dive bar), but they don’t skimp on the Christmas decorations, has some great bartenders, and can be a fun place. 237 3rd Ave
Miracle on 9th St
Rolf’s has been around for longer, but Miracle on 9th is the Christmas bar that really fueled the craze across the country for holiday themed bars. The idea to create a Christmas themed bar was born when Greg Boehm was preparing to open his new cocktail bar called Mace right here in the East Village. His mother encouraged him to give it a holiday theme leading up to Christmas. He heeded this advice, and Miracle on 9th St was born. It became an annual tradition and its success led to other bar owners reaching out to him to create similar pop-up holiday bars as well.
The Miracle branded bars have now expanded to states throughout the U.S. and even places like Montreal, London, Mexico City, and Amsterdam. The menu includes cocktails such as the Jingle Balls Nog, Snowball Old Fashioned, and Santa’s Little Helper.
Like with Rolf’s, the line can get long so reservations are encouraged and can be made on Resy.com.
Age: 21+ at all times with no exceptions
Oscar Wilde is a bar that pays homage to its namesake. As the website describes Mr. Wilde, he was a Victorian Era playwright…
“Who established himself within fashionable and intellectual circles, winning rank throughout the London scene through his biting wit, flamboyant style, and conversational talent.”
This bar brings the Victorian age to life with New York City’s longest bar at 118.5 feet long, a French fireplace, a grandfather clock, and beautiful chandeliers. But in December, Oscar Wilde goes all out to become one of the best Christmas bars in NYC with its decorations.
Alternatives: The owners also run two other Victorian themed bars called Lillie’s on West 49th St and on East 17th St as well as Papillon Bistro on East 54th St. All three also have amazing holiday decorations.
Pete’s Tavern is perhaps my favorite place on this list because it is the least touristy (at least for the other 11 months of the year) and is a historical pub. The author known as O.Henry was a regular here, and supposedly penned much of his book Gift of the Magi here in the 2nd booth.
Opened in 1864, Pete’s Tavern is NYC’s oldest continuously operating restaurant and bar. But note that this is different from bars like Fraunces Tavern, Neir’s Tavern, Ear Inn, and McSorley’s that are older but weren’t a restaurant, not continuously operated, etc. Regardless, it’s one of the oldest establishments in NYC.
Pete’s isn’t a dive bar. But it’s also not fancy. It’s just a tavern that locals love and stop by for a beer and a burger. Reservations are available and they also save some tables for walk-ins. The wait isn’t usually too long, and you can enjoy a drink at the bar while you wait.
The Lodge at Bryant Park Winter Village
The Winter Village at Bryant Park is one of the best places to go in New York City during the holiday season. It has free ice skating, an outdoor market with over 170 vendors, and an indoor Lodge with bar and food. The bar in the lodge serves beer, wine, and some great drinks to keep you warm:
- Hot Mulled Wine
- Grand Marnier Hot Chocolate
- Frangelico Hot Chocolate
Just outside the Lodge there is also a stand called S’mores N’more that sells s’mores, marshmallows, and some of the best hot chocolate I have had. And several of the outdoor vendors also sell some great snacks.
The outdoor shops are only open until January 2nd, but the Ice-skating rink and Lodge where the bar is located remain open thru March 3rd. I consider this Winter Village a must go if you’re in New York City around the holidays.
Naughty or Nice Holiday Bar
Each December, the Skinny Bar turns into the Naughty or Nice Holiday Bar. It isn’t fancy. It isn’t classy. But it sure as hell isn’t boring. The Skinny Bar embraces artsy, funky, crazy and the boldest aspects of New York City. And this is especially evident during the holidays. Sure the bar is fully decorated, but the Naughty or Nice Holiday Bar pushes past aesthetics with events like burlesque performances, naughty Christmas caroling, and interactive games like “The Wheel of Misfortune.” This unique Christmas bar in NYC is one of my favorites for 2022.
Winter Wonderland at Loreley Beer Garden
In December, Loreley Beer Garden comes alive with holiday spirit. And don’t worry, even if it’s freezing outside, the outdoor beer garden is heated!
On a cold day, the best holiday drink in NYC might be their Boozy Black & White Hot Chocolate made with Four Roses Bourbon, Ghirardelli chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and chocolate and vanilla drizzle.
The spiked eggnog is also great. Or if you want a pick-me-up then the peppermint nitro cold brew martini is also an excellent choice. I pretty much made my case that you can’t go wrong here as the delicious cocktails make this one of the best Christmas bars in NYC.
Maccabee Hannukah Bar
Boston’s first pop-up Hannukah bar has just opened in New York City. The West Village cocktail bar Ollie has transformed into Maccabee Hannukah bar through December 31st. Cocktails include the Hebrew Hammer (vodka, leavened sugar, lemon, and raspberry) and the Jewish Christmas (sesame infused Rye, Szechuan peppercorn, and bitters). And if you can’t decide what to order, simply spin the dreidel and let it decide for you.
If the cocktails don’t get you excited for Hannukah, then the food surely will. They serve both traditional and sweet potato latkes served with sour cream and applesauce as well as a Reuben sandwich. Or you can snack on a bag of gelt (the chocolate gold coins).
Did I mention they have Manischewitz Jello shots? This is now my much-preferred way to consume this Kosher wine.
Borrachito is a taqueria and bar that turns into Feliz Coctelería for the holiday season until mid-January. and just as importantly, it’s one of the few bars I have been able to find a coquito in NYC.
In addition to their Poquito Coquito, other holiday themed cocktails include the Lump of Coal (made with Pisco and Blackberry), San-tiki-claus (mezcal and sherry with spices), and their version of a Hot Toddy.
"Sleyenda" at Leyenda
From December 1st-30th, the Latin inspired cocktail bar Leyenda turns into the Christmas themed bar “Sleyenda” at Leyenda.
They have several hot drinks to keep you warm, like the Mexican Hot Chocolate (made with Patron) and a hot mulled Port wine mixed with Scotch and Sherry. They also have several alcohol-free mocktails if that’s of interest.
Pink Winter Lodge at Magic Hour
The only rooftop on this list is the Pink Winter Lodge at the Magic Hour Rooftop (top of the Times Square Moxy Hotel). The location not too far from Times Square makes this an especially convenient stop for people staying in the area.
Snowday in Brooklyn
Leading up to Christmas, the popular restaurant in Williamsburg called Sunday in Brooklyn becomes a holiday bar named “Snowday in Brooklyn.” They have decorations, cozy blankets, and some very different cocktails than most other places:
- Ski Lift: Bourbon, Jägermeister, Peanut Butter, and Coffee topped with Miso-honey whipped cream (served warm)
- Beetz Navidad: Beet, Cherry, and Oat Milk Hot Chocolate with a Marshmallow (served warm)
- Jingle all the Whey: Apple Brandy, Amaretto, Cynar, Five-Spiced Pumpkin, Miso, and Whey (served warm or on ice)
Grinchy's at Robertas
When you mix some of the best pizza in NYC with a Grinchy Christmas theme you know it’s going to be great. Roberta’s has been making pizza out in Bushwick since 2008 and has been a favorite spot for locals ever since. It’s a little further out over in Brooklyn, but well worth the trip out on the L Train. And it’s not just pizza for the holidays. If you have a large group, you can order a suckling pig or roasted duck for the table.
The tiki bar has been transformed into the holiday bar through January 10th.
A Pink Wonderland
Both the New York City and Chicago locations of Bounce, a sports bar & club, are turning into A Pink wonderland for the month of December. Because Christmas doesn’t always need to be red and green. But unlike some of the bars above that are free admission, ticketed admission starts at $35. Tickets are for a set entrance time, but once since you can stay for as long as you’d like. Food and drink are available at additional cost. Age 20+.
Pop Up Christmas & Holiday Attractions
Unlike most of the holiday bars above (except Pink Wonderland), these are attractions that charge an entrance fee. The admission costs can be substantial, and most of them do not get great reviews. But I’m addressing them because you might find them in your searches, and I want to give you my personal take on them. To me they feel a little more fake and contrived as a money-making opportunity rather than the year-round bars that simply adopt a holiday theme around Christmas.
Frosty’s Christmas Bar: 220 W44th St Originally a Chicago pop-up, they now also have a NYC location at Blue Midtown, which is the event space above Bacall’s restaurant open until December 31st. General admission is a $25 entrance fee for a 15-minute arrival time window (they do give you a 30-minute grace period though). This is basically a giant Instagram photo shoot with a full bar and holiday themed cocktails are an additional cost. Age 21+ frostyschristmasbar.nyc
Winter Wonderland at Watermark:78 South St Pier 15 near the Seaport in downtown Manhattan has been transformed into a winter wonderland thru December 30th. A $19 general admission gets you entrance and a cup of hot chocolate or cider and a snack. You can also dine in the glass houses for a reservation fee that is in addition to the food and drink. All ages. www.watermarkny.com
Disney’s the Santa Clauses Winter Wonderland: The Pier 17 rooftop has been decorated as the north pole until January 7th, and includes a small synthetic skating rink and private dining cabins. General Admission tickets start at $20 (plus fees) but change depending on the 90-minute window you book. VIP tickets are also available that include a hot chocolate and ice skate rental (otherwise it’s $20pp). There was also a slide, but it might be closed due to several injuries. The view is great, but that’s unfortunately about the only thing good about it. website
Santa’s Secret: 20 Hudson Yards, 5th Floor Take pictures as you walk thru a decorated pathway into a performance room where you’ll see ballet, burlesque, and other unique acts. Here, you will find a bar with holiday cocktails and food if you choose. Tickets start at $58. Age 21+ santassecret.co