I’ve lived in this city for so long that truly nothing phases me anymore, and that’s a personal achievement of which I’m very proud. However, there is one exception to my inability to experience awe, and that is when Gingerbread Lane comes to town, when Bloomingdale’s is decked in twinkly lights and, of course, when drinking spiked eggnog and hot chocolate is not only acceptable, but encouraged. I’m talking about the most wonderful time of the year, people! The motherf*ckin’ holidays! Am I getting too excited? Whatever. One more thing this New Yorker loves about the holidays in this godforsaken city is the festive decor that takes over my favorite watering holes, hotels, and restaurants. If you, too, have no shame in your game and want to sip spiked eggnog under mistletoe, but don’t know where to go, I got you. These are the most festive holiday spots that you don’t already know about.
This is the type of place I usually avoid because lots of people and staying out past 10pm aren’t really my vibe, but I think I may just move in here between the months of December and March for the holiday themed pop-up. The Lobby Bar will be transforming into what the Dream is calling The Winter Rose Garden and what I call What Dreams Are Made Of. This particular pop-up is exciting because it’s the downtown hotel’s first foray into holiday festivities, and rest assured, they’re pulling out all the damn stops. I’m talking oversized rose walls (made with 15,000 red roses), red furniture, and more candles than Anthropologie. And obviously, they have a special menu of holiday-inspired cocktails. The Primrose Cider is my personal fave because it’s made with classics like sparkling rosé, Barking Irons Applejack, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and a rose ice cube. I mean, yum?
This is the only place in Midtown I’ll go without complaining about all the finance bros Juuling everywhere I look. For this holiday pop-up, which they’re calling Midwinter Nights’ Dream, they are seriously going all out, and I’m not mad about it. As much as I love holiday-themed alcohol, the actual reason I love this time of year is because of the genuinely cheerful atmosphere, and this place understands that. Obviously, they’re doing the red and gold ribbons, the hanging lights, and the gorgeous garland, but most importantly, they’re having a tunnel of light, because if you go to a holiday pop-up and didn’t post an Instagram of it, did you even go? As for the holiday menu, def opt for a Peppermint Mojito, which is a normal mojito, but served in an ornament! Is that festive af or what?
If you don’t remember from my last article where Magic Hour got a mention re: where to drink enormous drinks, let me just say that I love this place. For the holidays this year, it will turn into what I can only imagine is Nicki Minaj’s wet dream. It’s called Pink Holiday Playground and will boast ceilings covered in hot pink twinkly lights, oversized disco balls, and human-sized festive bears. Oh, and there’s also a carousel, because why not? Not that it’s a competition, but Magic Hour is playing to win and they got my vote. Also, my general policy at bars is to not eat the food, but I’ll make an exception for the Pink Dough Pie, which is not only meant for 12 people, but it’s also a delish boozy apple cider doughnut-pie hybrid (sold) filled with Honeycrisp apples and drizzled with a maple bourbon glaze, topped with pink sprinkles and pink chocolate balls. My love language is officially sweet pizza that will get me drunk. How do people even come up with this stuff?
Though technically neither a bar nor a restaurant, Club Wyndham earned its spot on this list because it is committed to spreading holiday cheer, like, for real. Don’t believe me? Check out the aggressively Instagrammable holiday suite inspired by, you guessed it, Buddy the f*ckin’ Elf. By the way, that movie was released in 2003, so if you don’t already feel old af, how about now? Just from looking at the photos of this suite, I can say with confidence that there were no cotton-headed ninny-muggins on this hotel’s design team, and that I am blown away. Because you are absolutely playing yourself if you think you aren’t already dead-set on booking this suite, I’ll let you know what’s included, starting with the full kitchen that’s stocked with the ingredients to recreate Buddy’s famous spaghetti and syrup dish. Honestly, I don’t really know if that’s a selling point, but I do love a hotel suite with a full kitchen. My personal favorite element of this suite, though, is the enormous living room that’s fully decked out in holiday garb (including an oversized Christmas tree). If that’s not festive, tell me what is. I’ll wait.
I am a Manhattan snob and generally don’t acknowledge the other boroughs, but Sunday in Brooklyn is the one exception. Running through the end of December, this beautiful restaurant that makes a case for minimalist design is doing SNOWday in Brooklyn. Yes, their holiday pop-up has arrived and I’m already on the L. I’ll get to the menu in a minute, but first I want to talk about the vibe of the place during this magical time. Some of these pop-ups go a little overboard (do a bar crawl one weekend and lmk which ones you think those are), but Sunday in Brooklyn is classy af. It’s how I imagine Aidan and Carrie would decorate his Suffern house for the holidays if they had stayed together. The place generally has kind of a rustic feel, but with the garlands hanging from the wooden beams on the ceiling and the wreaths in every window, it’s hard to stay away. I ordered the Scroogin’ For A Bruisin’ because I love a good Grease reference, but also because it’s delicious with scotch, baijiu, China-China Amer, pineapple, cinnamon, sesame oil, and brown rice. Those last two ingredients threw me too, but they’re only there to give the drink a little bit of texture, not to give it a salad dressing flavor.
Before this past Sunday, the only time I’ve ever been to The NoMad Bar was on a horrible date that ended with him telling me how much he misses his ex girlfriend. Awesome. Anyway, after hearing about this place’s new Holiday Spectacular cocktail popup, I decided to start positively associating it with two things I love: Christmas and alcohol. Honestly, they didn’t have to do much beyond the bar’s typical decor because it’s already pretty festive in a very chic way. Dark leather tufted booths, glossy wooden tables, the kind of lighting that only seems to exist in Woody Allen movies…etc. The one thing they’re doing differently for their Holiday Spectacular is the charming cocktail menu that’s separated by Naughty and Nice cocktails. Lol. I had one from each column and let my reaction determine which I am and, to everyone’s surprise, I’m nice! The Winter Wonderland, which is a milky punch—that tastes like pumpkin pie in cocktail form—is served in a snow globe. I can’t resist a snow globe. This is also a fun bar to hit up because the NoMad Hotel is a cool place to walk around afterwards, especially when you’re a little tipsy.
Images: Winter Rose photo by Edward Menashy; Midwinter Nights’ Dream photo Courtesy of Michael Kleinberg; Magic Hour photo by Sarah Kelley; Club Wyndham photo courtesy of Club Wyndham; Sunday in Brooklyn photo by Eric Medsker; The NoMad Bar photo courtesy of The NoMad Bar
The holiday season really is the best time of the year to be in a relationship. It’s great to have that special person to share the season with, plus you probably get more presents for Christmas. Some of us are still out here searching for our cuffing season partners, but I promise I’m not bitter. If you’re in New York City and your Ho-Ho-Hoeing days are over, we have some prime ideas for your December date nights. Here are all of the best holiday date spots in NYC.
The Standard East Village Winter Garden & The Standard Biergarten
Two totally different vibes, both one hundred percent worth checking out with your SO.
For this holiday season, you can rent a yurt at The Standard East Village’s outside area. Wtf is a “yurt,” you might ask? Its essentially a cozy decorative tent, originally used by the nomads in Central Asia. They are cozy AF and filled with fuzzy blankets and chairs. Fill up on fondue and mulled wine with your partner, or why not get a group together?. I’d recommend making a reservation in advance, but there are a couple of yurts that are for walk-ins only. The yurts are open Mon-Fri from 4pm-9pm, and Sat-Sun 11am-9pm.
The Standard downtown is heavy on the holiday decor, but in an entirely different way. Check out the Biergarten, where they’ve transformed the standard (haha) look into a bright, neon winter wonderland. The space is chock-full of colorful Christmas trees and plenty of mistletoe to set the mood. They have spiked AND virgin hot cocoa, so what are you waiting for?
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Our #WinterWonderland at The Plaza has arrived, filled with tinsel trees, twinkling lights, and a candy colored pathway leading to our Naughty (and Nice) Hot Cocoa bar. We’d say “tag us in your pics” but from the looks of it, you already have that covered. And for those who are still searching for the perfect gift, @hesterstreetfair will be joining us on 12/8 + 12/9. ????✨☕???? // ????: @makeitnice
Winter Village At Bryant Park
Walking in a Winter Wonderland—I mean Village—is a great way to get into the holiday spirit with your partner. Eat food, shop, and get a drink at “The Lodge,” this year’s rink-side pop-up, open daily from 8am-10pm. Pig out on popular eateries such as Todaro Bros, Pierogi Boys, Squish S’mores Bar, and more in the “après ski” style food hall. Brought to you by Urban Space, the same people who bring you Broadway Bites and Mad Sq Eats, Winter Village is a good place to check out day or night. You’ll forget you’re in the city for a moment as you browse through all the shops in Bryant Park. If you’re a fairly new couple, this could be a good gift spot to give your SO something small, but meaningful, as a memento of your date. And as always, the lawn is transformed into an open ice rink for the season. It’s free to skate if you have your own, but let’s be real, who does? So bring $20 for rentals.
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Yule Want S’More for sure ???????? Created my NYC Holiday Guide without spending lots of ???? check it out if you need some inspo this holiday season for where you should visit / take ????! (link in bio) . . . #thestackery #newyork #newyorkcity #bryantpark #nyc #nyceeeeeats #newforkcity #nyctourist #nycdessert #bryantparkwintervillage #nycholidays #holidaybucketlist #nycblogger #nycfood
Mickey: The True Original Exhibition
Make a little Disney holiday magic by celebrating Mickey’s 90th anniversary with your partner at 60 10th Ave. in Chelsea. After all, who didn’t grow up watching everything Disney? Spend an hour or two exploring the exhibit filled with fantasy and fun. You will find multiple artists’ interpretations of the iconic mouse. The space is saturated with Mickey sculptures, bright murals, paintings, and plenty of vintage Mickey merch. Enjoy a complimentary cup of Ample Hills ice cream served in the Mickey Mouse Cade, which is decorated just like the Mickey Mouse club, a small taste of nostalgia. You get a choice between two flavors: Confetti Celebration or Triple Chocolate Surprise. Why not get one of each and split? Get your tickets online, in advance.
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Amanda Ross-Ho’s “Untitled T-Shirt (NONAGENARIAN)” turns the classic Mickey ringer tee into an iconic, thought-provoking experience. Here’s Sarah Jessica Parker taking it all in. Come see it, along with many more original Mickey-inspired works, now through February 10 in New York City. ????
Miracle On 9th St.
Check out Miracle on 9th for a seasonal setting serving fun holiday cocktails in the East Village at bar Mace. Dress: casual. Wear a cozy sweater and get spirited—in more ways than one. There’s even a corner for Hanukkah, decked out with dreidels and blue lights! The drink “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” is tequila-based and basically made for me. The cocktails are strong, but not too strong. You’ll definitely want to try a few. Cozy up next to your SO with a fun holiday cocktail and enjoy the decadent decor. What makes it even cooler is that Miracle is not just in the East Village—there are “Miracle” pop-ups worldwide!
As someone who’s braved the streets of New York for several years now (someone please buy me a medal), I can confidently say that living in New York certainly has its perks. Like, waking up every morning to the smell of fresh garbage and urine or slowly losing the will to live one MTA train delay at a time. Also, I guess we have some good bars too. How else are we to cope with 50 percent of our paychecks going to 20 feet of cubic space in an apartment in the shittiest part of Brooklyn than by drinking our sorrows away with $11 Bud Lights? The city! It’s magical here! If you can imagine, not all bars are as great as I just made them out to be. While some bars have hot AF clientele (re: hot husband material, beautiful douchebags, generally attractive humans), other bars have bigger red flags than my Hinge suggested matches. Luckily for you betches, my standard for bars pretty much begins and ends at “is it open?” So here’s a list of all the trashiest NYC bars you should f*cking run from should anyone suggest it. Learn from my mistakes. I’m super giving like this.
Hair Of The Dog
Location: East Village
Biggest Red Flag: That it’s patrons think it’s socially acceptable to dry hump ON THE FLOOR
I literally wish I made this up. I’m telling you rn the things I have seen at this hedonistic den of sin cannot be unseen. This establishment is what the kids these days call a “trap house” disguised as college sports bar. Located in the East Village, it doesn’t matter what time of day you show up at at this place, you can always find at least one person vomiting in the bathroom sink and/or belligerently dry-humping in the corner. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I’ve seen a couple start hooking up by the beer pong table, topple over onto the floor AND CONTINUE HOOKING UP. Look, am I saying I don’t frequently hang out at this establishment? I am not. But I
like to sabotage my life and happiness can never say no to a place that sells $12 pitchers. We all have our crosses to bear!
Biggest Red Flag: The line for the bathroom
The Woods is fine during the day, but at night this chill hangout spot gets sketchy AF. Like, watch your drink sketchy AF. The crowd shifts from Brooklynites searching for some sliver of outdoor space to people who think that visiting a bar in Williamsburg will up their street cred. Think: the place where frat bros come after they’ve been kicked out of every bar in Manhattan… before midnight, and girls who think it’s “edgy” to drink ciders. If you like to get propositioned with coke in line for the bathroom then you’ll probs love this place, but if you like drinking literally anywhere else in an environment that’s not filled with literal sea creatures, then maybe try someplace else. Idk.
Location: Greenwich Village
Biggest Red Flag: That there’s a stripper pole in the middle of the bar
Where do I effing begin with this place? First of all, Greenwich Village is one of my favorite areas in the city, and the fact that this establishment dare bring A PIRATE THEME to this otherwise chic AF environment is a crime against humanity. Yes, you heard me right, this bar is entirely pirate themed. And while that in itself should be a reason for no human with working eyes and ears to ever step foot in this abomination, there’s actually even more disturbing sh*t that happens here. Like the fact that there’s karaoke and A STRIPPER POLE in the middle of the goddamn building. There’s also beer pong in the back! You know, in case you didn’t already humiliate yourself enough with your belligerent rendition of “Baby Got Back” while using the stripper pole as a prop to showcase your immeasurable talents. So, what I’m saying is, I guess there’s something for everyone here.
^^ actual footage of things I’ve seen go down at this bar
Location: Midtown East
Biggest Red Flag: Its patrons
I generally try and stay below 34th street, because upper Manhattan is about as easily accessible from my Brooklyn apartment as the Moon. That said, every once in a while I’m forced into going out in that area by my one friend who’s always telling me how “fun” midtown is and how all the “hot guys” frequent those bars. First of all, I’ve never felt so betrayed in my life than when I showed up to her beloved Turtle Bay only to be surrounded by what can only described as a mix between a 30-year-old frat bro and a Jersey Shore club extra. (I must have come on a good night, because any other night it’s literally just college kids with fakes.) These are the kinds of dudes who show up at happy hour and immediately start pounding shots of Jäger before they have to catch the last train back to Jersey. Charming. If you’re into meat heads, then by all means
ruin your life hang out at this bar. The free happy hours you can “win” (by just showing up one time and being female) are tempting, but just be aware that there was a recent stabbing—STABBING!—at this cesspool of an establishment earlier in the summer. Literally the NY Post agrees with us on this one—please just stay away.
Images: @mdisc /Unsplash.com; Giphy (2)