IMGP2309We're not going to lie- we've lost a lot of valuable holiday shopping time by not leaving our neighborhood during the transit strike. Well, that, and drinking in our apartment. Setting out to buy some of our friends presents, we were reintroduced to the wonderful advance that is drinking while shopping. Not the open bar of those scary Lucky magazine events (we'd rather not have a Manhattan dropped on camel colored Sigerson Morrison shoes) but the quiet moment between lines, between where we are going next and how much it is all going to cost. That is the beauty of places in the middle of all your shopping needs that served alcohol-in the last few hours we tried the high and the low- and were rejuvenated.

At Cafe Sabarsky we eschewed the German and Austrian options (even though the linzer tortes looked worth it) and got a carafe of wine. A delicious Reisling (available in botles os 1/4 liters, our choice, $12) was refreshing, especially as we stared out the picture windows at the people carrying bags up Fifth Avenue against the wind. Recluctant to face that again, we tried the speciality, Gluhwein ($10), a delicious wulled wine. Served with beautiful presentation, a delicate glass mug on with a tiny cloven orange, spiced tea and tiny juice glass of water, it felt like a marvelously elegant and slightly debauched tea party. Like a sangria, the spices add to the red wine's flavor and the kick of liquor keeps with you onto the street.

Downtown, our longtime favorite, The Mudspot is cooking up another mulled wine. Their version, served spiced in the kitchen, not a tea bag, is served in water glasses ($6). The downtown version is a little sweeter but not overwhelmingly so-no one would mistake it for a desert wine or reccomend against it with dinner. On a block full of boutiques, catchall stores and the always nessasary witch supply store, this is perfect shopping break. Or make it destination and gift everyone on your list their coffee by the pound- it's perfect for the morning after, believe us.

Cafe Sabarsky
Neue Galerie
1048 Fifth Avenue at 86th St.
Mon, 9am-6pm; Closed Tuesday, Wed, 9am-6pm;Thu-Sun, 9am-9pm

307 East 9th Street, Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
(212) 228-9074