“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” isn’t just a popular holiday tune, it’s the reality of New York City during the winter months. And, just as the singer croons to convince you to stay indoors, several warm bars, intimate cafés and roaring fires around town are doing the same thing. So, instead of facing the howling wind, icy snow and slush-filled sidewalks while searching for a place to hole up in, try one of these five spots and stay cozy.
La Compagnie De Vins Surnaturels
What could be more inviting than a Soho wine bar during these blustering months? This Parisian transplant features more than 500 bottles of premium vino composed by Fabien Suquet, formerly of the renowned Auberge Du Vieux Puits. Red wine is the perfect drink to warm you from the inside out. It helps that you can sip in pillow-lined banquettes at the low-lit bar or tucked into a snug corner table. To complement the wine, order an array of artisan cheeses, meats and small plates, such as beef tartare with tomato confit or toad in the hole with truffle butter, ham and mushrooms. La Compagnie is owned by the same group behind the Experimental Cocktail Club in the Lower East Side, so if you feel like you need an expertly made cocktail to further heat your evening, head there after.
As far as warming up your belly this winter, the best way to go is with a satisfying dish of freshly made pasta. Owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali, this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star eatery in Chelsea is the place to snuggle up in, despite its 24,000 square feet of space and soaring ceilings. After all, what screams comfort food more than a deftly prepared bowl of pork and veal agnolotti, pumpkin cappellacci with browned butter, or Batali’s famous Yesterday’s 100 Layer Lasagne? Tuck into one of these in the leather banquettes in the dining room or at the large, dark bar.
With only six bar stools and 36 table seats, it’s not surprising things get a little cozy in this Nolita bar. Created and owned by the award-winning design firm AvroKo, The Daily allows you to snuggle into comfortable leather banquettes or linger on a stool along the dark-wood bar and ogle over the backlit bottles of booze. Low light and flickering candles add to the warmth of the space, and ordering a steaming cocktail by bartender Ignacio Jimenez helps, too. Try his latest creation, the maple hot buttered whiskey (a tasty take on a hot buttered rum) or go for one of the daily changing cocktails, a practice that gave the bar its name. The place also serves small bites, including venison sliders, fried sardines and spiced banana bread pudding, all dished out from the neighboring Public restaurant, which is owned by the same team.
For years the best place to get hot chocolate around Manhattan has been City Bakery and, to this day, it still is the go-to place around the borough. Owned by former television producer Maury Rubin, this bi-level shop in Union Square makes all its steaming beverages by hand, right down to the housemade marshmallow that lovingly melts into the rich cocoa. If you want a side of even more excitement with your drink, visit the shop again in February, when every day it features a new, gourmet hot cocoa spiked with extra ingredients like creamy stout, chili pepper, cinnamon and lemon.
Another way to shed the cold this season is to coat your palate with spicy food, and this Nolita Thai restaurant makes some of the finest Asian dishes in the city. Not sure where to start? Try chef-owners Matt Danzer and Ann Redding’s laab neuh gae (spicy chopped lamb salad with mint), koong (grilled shrimp with chili dipping sauce) or the traditional celebration dish kanom jiin nahm yaa (skate over rice noodles with wild ginger sauce). Not only are these selections warming, but the spice-scented, intimate surroundings, exposed brick walls, wooden tables and chairs, and the bold, rich colors of the décor help to make you feel protected from the outside elements.