The winds are howling, the mercury has dipped below freezing and the thought of venturing outside fills you with dread. Instead of hibernating in your apartment, hunker down where the winds can't reach you in one of the city's cute underground watering holes. From intimate and romantic to divey and boisterous, these subterranean sanctuaries offer refuge from the frigid winter weather for whatever suits your mood. This is just a start; let us know your favs in the comments.
Trading Post: The Seaport struggled post-Sandy, with many of the neighborhood's bars and restaurants shuttered in the wake of the storm. Luckily, a handsome new bar and restaurant called Trading Post opened this summer, offering working stiffs and locals a nice watering hold to relax in. The upstairs restaurant is lovely, but it's the dark, sexy, below ground bar that sings during this time of year. It's a great place to take advantage of the bar's sizable whiskey selection while you sit on one of the sleek leather chairs. They offer upscale pub grub down there too, like Flatbreads ($14) topped with sausage, broccoli rabe and garlic or spicy shrimp with tomatillo, avocado and cilantro.
Trading Post is located at 170 John Street between Front and South Streets, (646) 370-3337; tradingpostnyc.com
Sake Bar Decibel: For over 20 years this divey sake bar has held court in the East Village, drawing crowds for its unpretentious atmosphere to sip sake and shochu. It's tiny, meaning you should expect to feel a little packed in on busy nights, but that's exactly what makes it so cozy in the first place. The decor toes the line between authentic Japanese watering hole and grungy graffiti-flecked alley; just try to find a clean inch of wall space that hasn't been tagged up. They're known for the sake selection, natch, but if you're not down with fermented rice they also offer Japanese beers, cocktails like lychee martinis and even some Japanese whiskies.
Sake Bar Decibel is located at 240 E 9th St between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, (212) 979-2733; sakebardecibel.com
The Shakespeare: Cool Brits behind UES's Jones Wood Foundry and similarly subterranean spot Raines Law Room opened this downstairs pub this week inside the former Williams Club on 39th Street. Pull back the velvet curtain and descend into a 16th-century style British pub decked out in tons of wood, a cozy low ceiling and a mock fireplace. Drinks center around British brews, including 15 beers on tap and 3 cask ales from top producers across the pond; the pub snacks are top notch, especially the Pumpkin on toast with English cheddar and fish and chips. If you're lucky, you'll score a seat in the Snug: a private booth just off the bar with a convenient window to order more drinks and grub.
The Shakespeare is located at 24 East 39th Street between Park and Madison, (646) 837-6779; theshakespearenyc.com
Jimmy's No. 43: This 7th street standby welcomes adventurous beer drinkers and anyone who just likes a pint in a casual, convivial environment. They're serious about the suds here and are constantly changing out their tap beer selection with the seasons and new offerings from craft breweries. Right now that includes brews like Barrier Barnacle Brown Ale, Other Half Dog Cascadian Dark Ale and Scaldis Noel. Stay tuned to their website for fun events, not only in their performance venue The Back Room, but also food-and-booze celebrations like the upcoming highlight of French classic cassoulet. Cool beers, hearty casserole and candlelight make for an ideal evening hunkered underground.
Jimmy's No. 43 is located at 43 East 7th Street between Taras Shevchenko Place and 2nd Avenue, (212) 982-3006; jimmysno43.com
The Tippler: Tucked underneath the food mecca known as Chelsea Market, this subterranean watering hole aims for a historical feel, with brick archways and some salvaged relics from the nearby Highline. Lines can form on popular imbibing evenings, but arrive early for traditional cocktails like a Moscow Mule or inventive combinations like bourbon, cocoa, blackberry, Cointreau and lemon in the All-Nighter. Score one of the comfy booths for a more intimate experience and order the Manhattan Flight ($15), featuring three different variations of the classic cocktail; you definitely won't feel the cold after all that hooch.
The Tippler is located at 425 West 15th Street between 10th and 9th Avenues, (212) 206-0000; thetippler.com
Isle of Skye: Brown booze is the name of the game at this Williamsburg newcomer, offering hundreds of different varieties of whisky, scotch and bourbon to warm you from the inside out. Purists may scoff, but they do a decent scotch cocktail in the Laphraoig Project with Laphroaig 10 Year, Chartreuse, Luxardo Marashino, lemon juice and peach bitters. The fireplace may be faux, but the soft leather couches are great for perching with a warm body or two.
Isle of Skye is located at 488 Driggs Avenue between North 9th and North 10th; (347) 384-2772; isleofskyepub.com
Shalel Lounge: Candlelight, rose petals and serious romantic vibes are what's in store at this UWS lounge, which specializes in sexy vibes and tasty Moroccan fare. Grab a special someone and share a bottle of wine and a Mediterranean Spread Platter with plenty of pita for dipping. The lighting's low, making it great for stealing smooches without being able to see the eye rolls from the next table. Score a seat next to the tiny waterfall and whisper sweet nothings into your lover's ear; or just gossip about the people making out at the next table over.
Shalel Lounge is located at 65 West 70th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, (212) 873-2300; no website.
Underballs at the Meatball Shop: Middle school jokes ahoy at the downstairs bar of the Meatball Shop's Chelsea location, where they're doing fun cocktails and lots of big, meaty balls. Warm your hands with a Hot Buttered Rum with brown sugar or navigate the whiskey grid to create your own perfect cocktail. If you want to eat some balls, try the shop's signature Bratwurst Balls served with beer mustard or any of their other moist, delectable balls. If you like some tunes while you imbibe, head over on Thursday nights for their Almost Friday Night Jazz series, which offers an intimate music experience beginning at 10 p.m.
Underballs is located below the Meatball Shop's Chelsea location at 200 Ninth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets, (212) 257-43632; themeatballshop.com
The Bar Downstairs at Andaz 5th Avenue: Nestled below the bustling streets of Midtown, this attractive hotel bar offers a respite from the insanity on the ground level in a spacious, clean environment. Warm brick walls sourced from a 1790 rural Connecticut farmhouse welcome imbibers to the scene, where you can choose one of the handsome communal tables, a seat on one of the sleek leather couches or perch at the gorgeous claro walnut bar. They're offering a huge selection of classic cocktails, wines, beers and spirits; try the unusual Bear Hug ($15), made with quinoa vodka, lemon, rothman and winter pear liqueur and orange bitters. Brand new Executive Chef Chad Minton also rocks out some killer bites; don't miss the golden beets with white balsamic vinegar or the chicken empanadas.
The Bar Downstairs is located in the Andaz 5th Avenue hotel at 485 5th Avenue at 41st Street, (212) 601-1234; Andaz 5th Avenue
Trinity Place: You can't get much more protected from the elements than when you're inside a converted bank vault. Such is the case at this Financial District restaurant and bar, where suits kick back after work with champagne cocktails and fancy bar bites. Despite its location in a former bank, prices are pretty reasonable for the neighborhood—plus that vault door makes for a pretty sweet Instagram. They've got a decent bottled beer selection from the bro-y Bud Light to fancy, high ABV Belgian offerings; for eats, folks dig the Lobster BLT and upscale Pigs in a Blanket.
Trinity Place is located at 115 Broadway at Cedar Street, (212) 964-0939; trinityplacenyc.com