Head uptown for old-school soul food and world-famous Italian fare at the best Harlem restaurants in NYC
By Time Out New York contributors, Dan Q Dao and Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo
New Yorkers are a tough breed, but when the winter chill really sets in, you’re bound to see bargoers flocking to nearby cocktail bars in town. Amidst frosty winds and wet snowfall, even the most hardened urbanite will appreciate rustic warmth of a roaring fire. From romantic bars to hoppy beer bars, these are the best bars with fireplaces NYC has to offer. Trust us, they're lit.
Best bars with fireplaces in NYC
Photograph: Alex Strada
On weekends when escaping the city isn’t a viable option, head to this cabinlike space for a rustic retreat. Your objective: Snag a seat around the wood-burning brick hearth. Though the wine list offers a wide variety of options, sip the mulled vino to eradicate any chill left in your bones.
You’ll have to battle the hotel’s out-of-town guests to score a seat in the Art Deco–inspired environs, but it’s well worth it if you can secure one of the overstuffed couches or chairs by the gas furnace. Arrive early, pretend like you own the place and enjoy a stiff Negroni or Old Fashioned.
Photograph: Emilie Baltz
A fortune teller greets patrons at this comfortably-worn reproduction of a prohibition speakeasy. There’s a rousing scene in front, a mix of diehard regulars and industry types who jockey for the attentions of the chef-coat–clad barkeeps. Of all of the city’s craft cocktail joints Employees Only is among the most populist, with enough nerd-baiting tipples on the menu to please aficionados without alienating everyone else. Easy sipping libations include the floral Provencal, a silky blend of lavender-infused gin, vermouth steeped with herbs de Provence and Cointreau. More seasoned drinkers can call for a Hi-Octane Fix, made with aged rum and scotch, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, Grand Marnier and bitters.
Photograph: Courtesy Annie Schlechter
Lower East Side
The downtown-grunge–meets–your-rich-aunt’s-house vibe at this Lower East Side den practically invites you to sink into the trendy velvet couches beside a stone-facade fireplace. Cuddle up by the hearth with one of Dirty French’s belly-warming concoctions, like the slow-burning but smooth Muddy Water (Irish whiskey, cumin-spiced rye, cinnamon, chocolate mole bitters) or the sweeter, more festive Chai Matsuda, which blends chai-spiced bourbon, espresso and cardamom.
Photograph: Filip Wolak
The Lately is decidedly different from the nose-in-the-air 1Oak– and Tao-type clubs that pepper the neighboring blocks: The door policy is open, and the bartenders are quick to strike up conversations with lone imbibers or offer free shots to those who live in the area. And the rustic, wood-paneled barroom is warm as well, decked out in upscale cabin decor with a working fireplace, duck statuettes and forest-green walls. Even if the guests, primarily wearing clubgoing attire, might have been pining for the more-exclusive PH-D, the Lately is a refreshing addition to the ’hood for those who have been looking for something a little more magnanimous throughout the years. Better late than never.
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
This cavernous, bi-level venue may not fit the textbook definition of intimate, but the flickering stone fireplace is damn cozy. Commandeer the plush couch or one of the chairs near the hearth and settle in for the night with a hot Irish Nut with Bailey’s and amaretto coffee.
Photograph: Courtesy The Jane Ballroom
This lounge from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode is home to the most raging midweek party in lower Manhattan. The Ballroom is nearly as stunning as the crowd it attracts, with an offbeat tableau of stuffed beasts and mismatched couches. Though you can easily stake out a seat early on, the real festivities don’t usually get going until after midnight, when the dancing—fueled by cocktails—starts migrating onto tables and chairs. Our only complaint about the Jane? How long the line is.
Photograph: Courtesy The Polo Bar
Upstairs from the subterranean restaurant from clothing empire Ralph Lauren, find a long mahogany-toned barroom emblazoned with jockey portraits and 19th-century riding trophies, offering gratis bowls of fried olives to offset the $21 you’ll inevitably pony up for an old-fashioned. The fireplace in the very back is the cherry on top of the handsome, boys club space.
Photograph: Jolie Ruben
Ease into a seat near the gas-powered, black-laquered hearth and scan the list of tipples, like the frothy New York Harvest (bourbon, applejack, lemon, egg white, red wine). The bar often has limited hours and can get crowded; be sure to call ahead and make a reservation so you’re not left out in the tourist-ridden streets of Midtown.
Photograph: Courtesy The Flatiron Room
More than 400 varities of whiskey line the shelves at this bar from nightlife maven Tommy Tardie and cocktail ace Miguel Aranda (Bar Masa, Apotheke). Check out the ancient flooring (the planks are 100-year-old reclaimed wood) while nibbling cured meats, cheeses, oysters and ceviches and enjoying nightly jazz performances.
Photograph: Courtesy The Flatiron Room
Every bit of flare and fancy at Fine & Rare harkens back to Old New York, from the midcentury-style Chesterfield sofas to the Art Deco wallpaper to the vintage teller windows sourced from the nearby Grand Central Terminal. Set on a quiet street near the Morgan Library & Museum, this sophisticated spirits den from Tommy Tardie, proprietor of the whiskey-forward Flatiron Room, oozes retro glam beyond the tufted leather banquettes and oversize fireplace—we’re talking live jazz acts crooning onstage and a $15,000 bottle of whiskey on the menu. It could all seem gauche in the 21st century, but if you’ve been wanting to feel like a magnate of yore, this is your spot.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Robyn A.
Long Island City
LIC’s owners inherited the previous bar’s brick, wood and tin-ceiling fixtures, then brought in a laid-back attitude all their own—and a much more extensive drink selection. They also added an outdoor patio where you can smoke, tie up the dog and even order delivery from nearby restaurants. LIC is a convenient keep-the-party-going pit stop for music fans who migrate down the block after P.S. 1’s Warm Up evenings.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Chris G.
Grab your flannel, round up your best drinking buds, and head to this Bushwick back deck for a relaxed autumn night around the brick outdoor fire pit. The no-frills watering hole pours drafts like Downeast’s unfiltered Maine-style hard cider and Catskill’s Nightshine, a full-bodied, chocolate-tinged black lager. Huddle around the flames outside or take a seat on the wood-plank benches.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Antonio Rubio
Ladies should probably leave the Blahniks at home. In traditional Irish-pub fashion, McSorley’s floor has been thoroughly scattered with sawdust to take care of the spills and other messes that often accompany large quantities of cheap beer. Established in 1854, McSorley’s became an institution by remaining steadfastly authentic and providing only two choices to its customers: McSorley’s Dark Ale and McSorley’s Light Ale. Both beverages have a lot more character than PBR, though at these prices, it won’t be long before you stop noticing.
This Revolutionary-era tavern operates as the first stateside outpost of Dublin’s Porterhouse Brewing Company. Tangles of filament bulbs above the bar and distressed mirrors on the walls smack of artificial ye-oldeness, but the real pedigree of the place still holds appeal for beer-swilling history buffs, who can geek out over the thought of George Washington drinking here near the fireplace in the 1700s.
Photograph: Courtesy Merchants Market
This bar has been around for more than a decade, and it shows. But the well-worn, bohemian look continues to please a casual, mixed-age crowd. Settle into the circular booths up front, or the comfy, date-friendly couches and lounge chairs in the back anchored by a working fireplace. Artwork—no big surprise—adorns the walls. A basic pub menu is available, and the digital jukebox is kept at a festive but reasonable volume, making this a suitable place to talk the night away.
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
As pleasant as it is to dine in the front room of this bistro and nosh on coq au vin, the best seats in the house are hidden in the cozy back room, where you’ll find lounge furniture and a vintage cast-iron stove. Warm up by the wood-burning device and mull the affordable, all-French wine list.
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello
Long Island City
The white-brick mantel gives the gas-fueled fireplace at this two-story beer bar a homey feel, even when the place is packed. Brewhounds can hunker down with one of the near-100 beers by the bottle or one of 28 on tap, but we recommend going with one of the hot punches (often mulled wine or spiked cider), served in a teakettle and ideal for ordering with a friend or romantic flame.
Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin
Hightail it to the back of this long, narrow space to secure your spot by the gas fireplace. If the hearthside benches are already filled, you’ll still feel the festive spirit as you sit in a carved-wood booth beneath strings of colorful, twinkling lights. Wash down the traditional German bratwurst sandwich with a whiskey-laden hot toddy, which riffs on the recipe from an erstwhile bartender’s Scottish granny.
This standard-bearing cocktail parlor from mixology matriarch Julie Reiner (Lani Kai) expresses its Victorian bent in intricate tile work, curved leather booths, marble tables, vintage sofas and a functioning fireplace. The centerpiece is the 19th-century mahogany bar, where vest-clad barkeeps stir and shake throwback potions, handily defined in the novel-like menu. Choose among regal crystal bowls of punch or finely wrought drinks, both classic and new.