10 festive winter cocktails in New York

By: Claire Bullen

December 3, 2015

First, a disclaimer: we thoroughly encourage the enjoyment of cocktails all year round. But there’s something about the arrival of winter that makes rewarding yourself with a tipple even more inviting than usual. That’s why we’ve selected 10 of our favourite cosy, warming, and seasonally appropriate winter cocktails in New York. Now is the time to curl up with a dram of peaty scotch, soulful Pedro Ximenez, and fortifying brandy. Forget under the tree: head to the city’s top cocktail bars and you’ll be in for some very special treats.


Snow Cap Float, Pouring Ribbons

10 festive winter cocktails in New York | Pouring Ribbons
The Snow Cap Float proves winter cocktails can still be refreshing © Eric Medsker

At Pouring Ribbons – a beautiful but unpretentious boîte co-managed by Tales of the Cocktail award-winner Joaquín Simó – you’re certain to drink well. And if you choose to order a Snow Cap Float, you’re bound to drink winter-appropriately, too. This drink may resemble a soda fountain staple, but its mix of Barbancourt 8-year rum, Ramazotti, vanilla, root beer bitters, and Galliano whipped cream proves that cold weather drinks can be refreshing, too.


Mata Hari, Employees Only

10 festive winter cocktails in New York | Employees Only
The captivating Mata Hari is full of wintry flavours © Emilie Baltz

Just like its namesake, the Mata Hari is captivating, beautiful – and potentially lethal. Head to the West Village favourite, Employees Only for a taste of their wintery poison. Served straight up, the cocktail blends vermillion pomegranate juice with warming cognac and chai-infused Martini Rosso, which adds just the right blend of bitterness and exotic spicing to make this a devilishly moreish drink.


Mott & Mulberry, The NoMad Bar

10 festive winter cocktails in New York | The NoMad Bar
The beautiful NoMad Bar © Francesco Tonelli

Cleverly named after two adjacent streets on the edge of the Lower East Side, The NoMad Bar‘s Mott & Mulberry is also a wry reference to its fruit-forward flavour profile. That comes courtesy of the combination of apple cider, Demerara syrup, rye, and the beautifully bitter and complex Amaro Abano. The result? A drink that’s as winter-friendly as it is classically New York.


Irish Coffee, The Dead Rabbit

10 festive winter cocktails in New York | Dead Rabbit
Irish coffee at The Dead Rabbit is better than any other version you’ve tried before © The Dead Rabbit

“Irish coffee,” you might think. “I’ve had that before.” That may be true – but you haven’t had it at The Dead Rabbit (which was voted The World’s Best Cocktail Bar by Tales of the Cocktail earlier this year). Here, the Irish Coffee is almost Guinness-like, thanks to its inky depths and unbelievably moussey head of foam. A mixture of Irish whiskey, Demerara sugar, coffee, fresh cream, and nutmeg, it’s served steaming hot. All the better to defrost cold hands.


Blackfriar Cobbler, Mayahuel

Winter Cocktails in New York | Mayahuel
Sloe gin plays a role in Mayahuel’s Blackfriar Cobbler © Mayahuel

When mulling over festive winter cocktails in New York, your first thought might not be “tequila bar.” But leave it to Mayahuel (which, to its credit, is much more than that – it’s also an excellent Mexican restaurant and all-around cocktail gem) to whip up just the thing. The Blackfriar Cobbler here adds a twist to the classic cocktail with an addition of sloe gin. Imported from the UK, the jammy spirit is one of the best ways to ring in the holiday season.


Too Old to Die Young at Death + Company

10 festive winter cocktails in New York | Death and Co
Death + Co: the city’s cosiest speakeasy © William Hereford

Once you’ve managed to get past the (very friendly) bouncers, you won’t want to leave: Death + Company, which helped start New York’s speakeasy craze, is still one of the city’s best drinking dens to hunker down in. For something really indulgent (’tis the season, after all), order the Too Old to Die Young: a boozy and sweet combination of two rums (one of which is peanut butter-infused), bourbon, vermouth, yellow chartreuse, and crme de cacao. Otherwise, follow our advice and request a Brandy Alexander – they might just make the city’s best.


2 Scoops at Booker and Dax

10 festive winter cocktails in New York | Booker and Dax
Booker and Dax’s 2 Scoops is like a fleecy jumper in cocktail form © Brendan Newell

Given that Booker and Dax is part of David Chang’s Momofuku empire, don’t come expecting your run-of-the-mill cocktail bar (instead, expect molecular mixology flourishes and flames courtesy of a “red hot poker” and “Searzall” blowtorch). While admiring the pyrotechnics, be sure to sip on bartender Jack Schramm’s 2 Scoops: a creamy blend of bran-infused rye whisky, milk-washed applejack, Pedro Ximenez and a whole egg. It’s like the cocktail version of a cosy, fleecy jumper.


Black Tot at The Clocktower

10 festive winter cocktails in New York | Clocktower
The Clocktower’s glittering Gold Bar © Michael Persico

Located in the swanky EDITION Hotel, and co-run by restaurateur Stephen Starr and chef Jason Atherton, The Clocktower has certainly gotten its share of foodie buzz. But forget the cocktails at your peril: in the lavish Gold Bar (named, yes, for its 24-karat gold leaf bar), banish the winter chills with the Black Tot. Walnut-infused overproof rum (the boozier the better) pairs with maple syrup, barrel char, and a citric splash of lime to balance things out.


The Bear Trap at Dutch Kills

Winter Cocktails in New York | The Bear Trap
What warm winter drink isn’t improved by butter? © bhofack2/iStock

It might be a long and barren walk through industrial Long Island City to find the well-hidden Dutch Kills, but as soon as you enter, you’ll see the trek was worth it. A long and narrow bar with moody lighting and cosy booths, it’s got just the right ambiance for weathering out any nor’easters. It’s also got all the right cocktails, including a variety of hot drinks. Our favourite is the Bear Trap, a beguiling mixture of bourbon, honey syrup, apple cider”¦and house-spiced butter. Truly, winter cocktails in New York don’t get any better than this.


Apple Turnover at Clover Club

Few things on this fair Earth are more delicious than Calvados – Normandy-made apple brandy, for the uninitiated. Whether you’re a novice or a devoted admirer, head to Brooklyn’s beloved Clover Club for a taste. The dessert-y Apple Turnover pairs the spirit with Scotch, apple liqueur, lemon, ginger, and cinnamon. So, yes, basically the liquid version of an apple turnover.


What are your favourite festive winter cocktails in New York? Let us know in the comments below.


Virgin Atlantic operates multiple daily flights from London to New York, so you can start planning your wintertime indulgence now.


Written by Claire Bullen


Claire Bullen

Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen

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