New York City: Best Bars with Fireplaces
One of the unalloyed pleasures of a New York City winter is slipping away from the cold wind and gray slush on the streets and into a warm and inviting bar where you can sip a well-made cocktail next to a crackling fireplace. It’s the urban bargoer’s answer to heated car seats on an icy day or drying off after a shower with a towel that’s been draped over the radiator. But with booze included, too!
This being New York, there are bars and lounges with fireplaces to suit every mood and inclination, from sophisticated swank to friendly Irish pubs and rustic lodges you’d swear had been airlifted in from the Rockies. We’ve gathered our favorite NYC bars with fireplaces—each and every one worth adding to the itinerary for your winter getaway in the Big Apple. Fair warning: Things are about to get very cozy.
In Ireland, a “shebeen” is an illicit or unlicensed drinking establishment—a title Molly’s can’t technically lay claim to. Though a bar was founded (under a different name) on this spot in 1895, when Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920 the owners went legit and made the place a grocery store. It was only after the national dalliance with temperance had come to an end 13 years later that alcohol was once again sold on the premises.
Today, Molly’s offers a traditionally Irish pub experience, with sawdust on the floor, shepherd’s pie on the menu, and real logs in the fireplace. The latter is one of the few remaining original features of the building, along with the bar, which was carved from Honduran mahogany.
Where it is: 287 Third Avenue
What to drink: a pint of Guinness, duh
Cibar occupies the ground floor of a townhouse that dates back to 1834 (the Inn at Irving Place is upstairs). But the vibe today has little to do with old New York. Instead, everything is glittery and glam, from the disco-ball light fixtures and black leather seating to the gold-flecked, candy-colored tiles on the walls. A fireplace, also surrounded by a brightly hued tile mosaic, supplies a homey spot—incongruous yet welcome—for taking it all in. For drinks, you have your choice of classic cocktails like Manhattans and martinis, or original creations such as a smoky number made with mezcal and chipotle honey. There are also shareable small plates (truffle popcorn! pigs in a blanket!) combining gourmet and populist flavors.
Where it is: 56 Irving Place
What to drink: The above-mentioned Smokeshow, made with mezcal, chipotle honey, and lemon
Those whose idea of a perfect winter involves the trappings of rural New England will want to find the unvarnished facade of the Wine House, designed to look like a Vermont cabin in the middle of Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. Inside, you’ll find an inviting brick hearth, whitewashed walls lined with farm tools and wine bottles, and an open kitchen where chefs prepare crostini, charcuterie, cheese plates, and other shareables in full view. Whereas many wine bars in the city can be intimidating in attitude or number of offerings, the goal here is to give you a selection that’s well-chosen, wide-ranging, and affordable—minus the snootiness or sticker shock.
Where it is: 415 Union Street, Brooklyn
What to drink: Hot mulled red wine
The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel just might be the most romantic spot on this list. The sumptuous furnishings in leather and velvet, the shades of pink and red throughout the room, the glow of candles, and the warmth of a big, hand-carved limestone fireplace—everything seems tailor-made for intimacy. But even if you’re not in the mood for love, there’s plenty to hold your attention, including a rotating display of 20th-century artwork by the likes of Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Jean-Michel Basquiat; an eclectic mix of live music acts playing rock, pop, and jazz; and a crowd of A-listers huddled over gourmet bar snacks and pricey cocktails. Show up early to snag a spot by the fire; reservations are limited before 9pm and unavailable after that.
Where it is: 2 Lexington Avenue
What to drink: the Rose Dragon, made with muddled strawberries and pineapple, shaken with tequila and topped with a splash of champagne
There are much older bars on this list, but Brooklyn’s Clover Club, which opened in 2008 in a building that used to be a shoe store, is where you’ll find the most history. The management is passionate about investigating and disseminating the origin stories of cocktails, so if you’ve ever wanted to know what the oldest mixed drink is (punch, born in the 17th century) or whether there was a real Tom Collins (long story), either ask one of the knowledgeable waitstaff or consult the richly detailed menu. It’s a surprisingly good read. The old-timey feel extends to the decor, which includes marble tables, a red leather banquette, a dark mahogany bar, and a fireplace in the back room—perfect for curling up next to with the menu.
Where it is: 210 Smith Street, Brooklyn
What to drink: the eponymous Clover Club, made with gin, dry vermouth, lemon, raspberry, and egg white
The look is strictly Prohibition speakeasy at this handsome and unpretentious West Village hangout. In the front room, a gleaming curvilinear bar stands amid streamlined art-deco accents, wood-paneled walls adorned with paintings that recall the Jazz Age, and a shiny mirrored fireplace that wouldn’t look out of place in Jay Gatsby’s house. But if that suggests mindlessly swilling bathtub gin, think again: Staff and patrons alike take their cocktails very seriously here. That the bartenders manage to maintain impeccable standards while keeping things accessible for visitors who aren’t total mixology buffs is what makes the place truly special. In contrast to 1920s speakeasies, you won’t need a secret password to get in—but there is a fortuneteller at the front of the house instead.
Where it is: 510 Hudson Street
What to drink: If you’ve never had a perfectly mixed Manhattan before, here’s your chance.
No one would ever guess that this building, now home to the Bowery Hotel, started out as a New York University dorm. That's especially the case in the lobby bar, which has the feeling of a 19th-century gentlemen's club. Or maybe a club for gentlemen explorers: Patrons tread on Usak rugs from Iran, gaze at exquisite Moroccan tiles, and warm themselves at a massive stone fireplace that was lifted from a now-demolished manor house in France. Anyone can stand in the bar area (if you're lucky you'll snag a stool there), but to sit in front of that swellegant, wood-burning fireplace you'll need to be a hotel guest, get a reservation, or *cough, cough* pretend that you're meeting a guest for drinks *cough*.
Where it is: 335 Bowery
What to drink: the signature Bowery cocktail, which is Bulldog gin with Dubonnet and champagne
Both the kitchen and the bar take their cues from Jamaica at Kingston Hall, where you can snack on coconut shrimp and jerk chicken while throwing back rum-centric tropical cocktails like the Drunken Coconut (yes, it’s served in one). The decor somewhat more subtly evokes the island, incorporating weathered wood, plants that have fronds, and postcolonial art and artifacts. There are not one, but two fireplaces on the premises—which might not make you think of the Caribbean, but they come in handy when you’re trying to warm up on an altogether chillier isle. There’s also an attractive billiards table to keep you occupied.
Where it is: 149 Second Avenue
What to drink: You gotta go with the Drunken Coconut, made with rum, Malibu, fresh coconut water, and pineapple juice, and served in a coconut
As you might expect from the name, an ever-changing selection of works by local artists decorates this casual, venerable West Village spot. Past the usually crowded booths in the front bar, you’ll find a quieter “living room” in the back where thick curtains keep the outside world at bay and comfy couches are arranged around a fireplace. It’s a relaxed environment ideal for conversation or contemplating whatever’s currently hanging on the walls. The drinks are cheap by Manhattan standards, the kitchen churns out pub grub into the wee hours, and the digital jukebox can fill in any awkward silences if you run out of stuff to talk about.
Where it is: 52 Eighth Avenue
What to drink: Pick your poison—at these prices, you can afford it.