Winter is almost upon us, which means it is once again time to start subsisting on carbohydrates and hot whiskey drinks in order to stave off the cold and the sadness. But though you might be tempted to hide by your radiator with seven seasons of The West Wing until April rolls around, there are plenty of bars in this city worth braving from December to March, thanks in part to their roaring fireplaces. Here are a few of our favorites—feel free to leave yours in the comments.
KINGSTON HALL: There's nothing overtly Caribbean at this Jamaican-themed bar, unless solid doses of rum-heavy drinks fit that bill. But the dimly-lit East Village spot is somewhat ironically a prime for cold-weather drinking. In addition to warming libations like the hot Sorrel Cider ($12)— made with cinnamon-mulled apple cider, Blackwell rum, nutmeg and orange— the bar has two working fireplaces, one of which is conveniently situated next to one of the bar's pool tables. We will survive you, winter, unless we get trampled by the hordes of drunkards stumbling out of neighboring hellhole The 13th Step.
Kingston Hall is located at 149 Second Ave between 9th and 10th Streets in the East Village (212-673-2663, kingstonhall.com).
BLACK MOUNTAIN WINE HOUSE: Aside from being one of the most stellar date bars in town, Black Mountain Wine House kicks it in the cold season with a crackling fireplace in the back. Grab a seat as close to the flames as possible and warm up with a bottle of wine ($28-$45) and a couple tasty small plates; the house mac 'n cheese ($10), made with wild mushrooms, gruyere & truffle oil, is prime winter fare; along with a toasty $16 fondue special on Tuesdays.
Black Mountain Wine House is located at 415 Union Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets in Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-522-4340, blackmountainwinehouse.com). Follow them on Facebook.
ART BAR: There are a lot of reasons to make this decades-old West Village bar your drinking home this winter, not the least of which is the flame-heavy fireplace in the back room. There's the wine, of course, which ranges from $6 to $8 per glass, the $6 beer drafts and the seasonal Pumpkin pie martini, made with pumpkin spice and coffee liqueur. More importantly, there's the infamous contemporary Last Supper mural in the back room, which swaps out Apostles and Jesus for bygone celebs like Richard Nixon, James Dean and Jim Morrison; take a seat on one of the bar's many worn-in couches and let the dead famous people watch you as you warm up.
SHOOLBRED'S: The East Village might have been overtaken by the city's fratastic overlords in recent years, but this 2nd Ave spot holds its own against the Loud and Proud, serving up casual beers and cocktails in an elegant parlor space. A cozy fireplace only adds to the bar's atavistic atmosphere, warming patrons drinking in private booths and at tables nearby. Sip a signature hot toddy ($12) made with green tea, Glen Grant scotch, cinnamon and honey, or sample a piping hot mulled cider ($12), made with applejack brandy and nutmeg, and let the winter blues burn away.
Shoolbred's is located at 197 Second Ave between 12th and 13th Streets in the East Village (212-529-0340, shoolbreds.com). Follow them on Facebook.
DADDY'S: It's not often that a dive comes stocked with a working fireplace, but this Graham Ave spot does a pretty solid job of combining a grimy cheap beer scene with the joy of crackling flames. Pull up a seat at the horseshoe-shaped bar, grab a $4 draft and a $2 hot dog/veggie dog and be prepared to spend your laundry quarters on a few rounds of Pacman before the evening's end.
Daddy's is located at 435 Graham Ave between Frost and Richardson Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-609-6388).
LE BARRICOU: This Williamsburg eatery is all French bistro dinner business out front, but in the back, Le Barricou boasts a lovely little space with a bar, small tables and a wood-burning fireplace. House wine runs $6 per glass, $26 per bottle, and fancier stuff averages somewhere around the $45-per-bottle mark; you can also warm up with hot drinks like the sweet Bourbon Milk Punch ($10), made with aged Elijah Craig bourbon, milk, sugar and vanilla, or a classic hot toddy ($9), made with Overholt rye, lemon juice, brown sugar and cloves.
CLOVER CLUB: We've lauded the cocktails at this five-year-old Cobble Hill spot before, but for now, please turn your attention towards the Clover Club's wintry pièce de résistance : a roaring stone fireplace situated in the bar's back parlor room. The room has its own bar and a number of scattered plush couches for your lounging, cocktailing and warming-up pleasure. Try a signature Clover Club ($12), made with gin, dry vermouth, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg whites, or spring for the more December-friendly Doc's & Stormy ($12), composed of Warwick Valley Distillery Black Dirt apple brandy, lime juice, ginger syrup, cinnamon and pumpkin cider, and thaw out for a bit until Spring rolls around again.
LIC BAR: Folks in Queens know one of the best spots in the borough for some fiery warmth comes at this Long Island City mainstay, which has been serving customers with a smile for over 100 years. In addition to a solid selection of brews, the bar also hosts live music four nights a week for your toe tapping pleasure. Park yourself near the stone hearth for maximum warming effect and down a few pints of Raddeberger; you'll be toasted in no time.
ALEWIFE: Long Island City boasts several fireplace establishments, including this expansive bar and restaurant with a brick hearth in the upstairs dining room. The owners tell us they haven't fired up the old gal for the season just yet—they're aiming for December—but there are plenty of over reasons to visit, including garlic fries, sriracha buffalo wings and creole mac n cheese with jalapenos and bacon. They're also very serious about the brews, which include offerings from New Holland Brewing, Flying Dog and Evil Twin in addition to a cask option that goes for just $5 a glass on Fridays.
MOLLY'S SHEBEEN: This wee Irish pub not only griddles up a ridiculously good burger, they also torch a roaring wood fire that fills the space with a warm glow and plenty of heat. Stop in for a perfect pint or an Irish Coffee—watch the special cream whipper in action!—to warm frozen noses; they've even got coat hooks next to the flames so you'll keep warm when you eventually stumble back out into the chill. Just make sure you remove electronics from your pocket first; we learned that lesson the hard way.
Nell Casey and Rebecca Fishbein