Rolf's German Restaurant in New York City

Best Holiday & Christmas Bars in NYC (2022)

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.

Rolf's German Restaurant

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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, chicken schnitzel is $38 and the bratwurst with mashed potatoes is $31), but the easiest way to get in is to call several weeks ahead of time and make a reservation. However, they don’t always answer their phone once the busy season hits. Otherwise, you could be waiting in line for a while to get into the bar area.

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

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Miracle on 9th Street Christmas bar in NYC
Miracle on 9th Street

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 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.

This year, they also have locations at thee bars in Brooklyn and Jersey City.

Like with Rolf’s, the line can get long so reservations are encouraged and can be made on here.

The Lodge at Bryant Park Winter Village

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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 remain open thru March 5th. I consider this Winter Village a must go if you’re in New York City around the holidays.

Winter Village at Bryant Park in New York City
Try the Hot Chocolate at S'mores N'more

Oscar Wilde

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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. Both also have amazing holiday decorations.

Naughty or Nice Holiday Bar

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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.

Feliz Cocteleria

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Coctelería is a great cocktail bar that turns into Feliz Coctelería for the holiday season until mid-January. Because of the Pan-Latin and tropical theme, 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.

They also have small bites like tuna tostadas, shrimp ceviche, or get the taco tower for a group of 4-5 people. Make a reservation here.

Winter Wonderland at Loreley Beer Garden

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In December, Loreley Beer Garden comes alive with holiday spirit.

My pick for the #1 best holiday drink in the city is probably their Boozy Black & White Hot Chocolate made with Four Roses Bourbon, Ghirardelli chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and chocolate and vanilla drizzle.

The spiked eggnog is a close second favorite. 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.

"Sleyenda" at Leyenda

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From Dec 1-26th, the Latin inspired cocktail bar Leyenda turns into “Sleyenda” at Leyenda with a holiday theme.

They also have a long selection of alcohol free mocktails if that’s of interest.

Pink Winter Lodge at Magic Hour

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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

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Leading up to Christmas, the popular restaurant in Williamsburg called Sunday in Brooklyn becomes a holiday themed bar named “Snowday in Brooklyn.” They have decorations, cozy blankets, and some very different cocktails than most other places: 

  • Ski Lift: Bourbon, Peanut Butter, Jägermeister, and Gingerbread Miso Cream (served warm)
  • Beetz Navidad: Amaretto, Chartreuse, Agave Pulque, Beet, Almond Hot Chocolate, Truffle Oil (served warm)
  • Jingle all the Whey: Scotch, Rhum, Kalamata Olive Caramel, Apple Cider, Lavender Bitters, Whey (served warm or on the rocks)

Winter Garden at the Standard Hotel

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The Standard Hotel in the East Village opens their Winter Garden with heated yurts to dine in. The dinner menu is a $75pp prix-fixe sharable items that include Frito pie, short rib stew, and tableside s’mores. But the hot cocktails are what I go for… Mezcal hot chocolate, rum spiked hot cider, or the hot Aperol (the hot chocolate and cider are both available without alcohol).

Reserve your yurt here.

Other Holiday & Christmas Bars in NYC 2022

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But first, a note about these others. Most of these Christmas bars in NYC are pop-ups that charge an entrance fee (which can be substantial for some). But I’m addressing them because you might find them elsewhere in your web searches and want to give you my personal take on them. To me they feel a little more fake and contrived as a money-making opportunity. They are decorated and I’m sure can be fun with a group, but many have a list of negative reviews.

Frosty’s Christmas Bar: 220 W44th St Originally a Chicago pop-up, they have now opened a NYC location at Blue Midtown, which is the event space attached to Bacall’s. $25 entrance fee

Winter Wonderland at Watermark:78 South St Pier 15 Pier 15 near the Seaport in downtown Manhattan has been transformed into a winter wonderland. A $20 general admission gets you entrance and a cup of hot cocoa. You can also dine in the glass houses for a reservation fee that is in addition to the food and drink.

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 $45.