There are a number of reasons you might find yourself at a bar on December 25th: You don’t celebrate Christmas, you ran out of booze at home, or you desperately need to get away from your uncle from Tennessee who is just as obnoxious about politics in real life as he is on Facebook. No matter the reason, plenty of New York City bars are ready to welcome you on Christmas Day. From dark dives where you can wallow away in your Christmas sorrows over a lukewarm can of PBR to trendy cocktail spots where you may just find a Love Actually-worthy Christmas romance (or something like that), these are the spots to visit on the 25th.
More From Year In Review
Rockefeller Center (& Financial District)
Skip the exceptionally bland ham at home and treat yourself to a beer and bacon cheeseburger (add guac) just close enough to Rockefeller Center for one last guilt-free selfie in front of the tree. The bar & restaurant will be open from 12pm-10pm.
Harlem’s newest cocktail den from former Angel’s Share mixologist Shige Kabashima will be serving its creative cocktails like the Tomato/Clam with mezcal, tomato, wasabi, and clam, from 2pm-12am.
Upper East Side
Starting at 7pm, you can head to the leather banquette-filled bar that made the Upper East Side a worthy night-out destination. After grabbing something from Seamstress’ celebratory amaro open bar, you can choose from a number of creative cocktails from mixology deity Pamela Wiznitzer, like the $14 Liquid Gold (rye, St.-Germain, lime, white port, sesame, cucumber).
Upper West Side
Make Christmas Day a beach day from 12pm-10pm with Playa Betty’s slew of colorful margaritas or a seasonal Spicy Old Fashioned made with chili-infused rum, mole bitters, and a Peychaud's bitters-infused ice ball. Add a side of Austin-style queso and customizable guacamole, because it is a holiday, after all.
Take your traditional Chinese food delivery up a notch this year by heading to the bar at Kings County Imperial, where you can start drinking Tiki-accented cocktails as early as 12pm, before treating yourself to several rounds of dumplings.
Lower East Side
Starting at 4pm, you can finally unwind from the holiday madness with a $5 beer and shot at Rochelle’s. Stick around late enough and you can dance off all that disappointing present-induced post-Christmas sadness.
Do your best version of caroling during Planet Rose’s 4pm-8pm karaoke happy hour featuring $3 beers and $4 well drinks. Cozy up on zebra print booths and get ready to sing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” for the very last time this season (probably).
Upper West Side
Converted into a Midwinter’s Night Dream by a designer from Parsons, the winter wonderland bar at the NYLO hotel will be serving Shakespearian holiday-themed cocktails starting at 3pm, including the Love in Idleness (tequila, Lillet, elderflower, lemon, absinthe, blue pea flower ice). Two dollars from each cocktail sale will be donated to Save the Children. Drink up, it’s for the kids!
Astoria’s quirkiest comedy club will be vending takeout Chinese food along with wine, beer, and movie snacks during its 12-7pm quadruple movie screening, which will be followed by a comedy show.
A rainbow of fruit-flavored margaritas, mojitos, caipirinhas, and piña coladas will be flowing from 11am to 10pm or midnight -- depending on turnout -- at this Nolita taqueria. Bring an appetite, because you’ll definitely want some tacos as well.
Lower East Side
To really get into the Santa spirit, head to the home of the cast-iron chocolate chip cookie with a side of milk, where you can also count on plenty of beer and hot cider spiked with spiced rum starting at 5pm.
Upper West Side
If watching sports is a Christmas Day necessity, make like your favorite Upper West Side frat bro and head to Jake’s starting at 3pm for cheap drinks and a 4pm NFL game.
Treat yourself to one last holiday indulgence at this elegant old-school lounge, where you can split a $70 Chartruesian Velvet Sling -- a gin-filled pineapple tribute to The Plaza’s historic basement Tiki bar, and a wonderfully cheesy way to celebrate winter in New York -- until 4:45pm when the Palm Court closes for the night. If you’re eager to continue drinking at the ritzy hotel, move down to the Champagne Bar, which is open until 11pm, or the Rose Club, which will pour booze until Christmas ends at midnight.
You don’t have to stay for a traditional Christmas movie to spend the 25th hanging out at Nitehawk’s bar from 11am-1am with film buffs, thirsty Brooklynites, and a wall of nostalgia-inducing VHS tapes... though, not staying for a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life feels like a pretty big mistake.
Lower East Side
This quaint Argentinian restaurant on Stanton St will be pouring from its extensive selection of South American wines (and serving warm mulled wines) from 1pm-9:30pm. Pair yours with an upgraded Christmas meal of empanadas and albondigas (meatballs).
If you’re looking to do something over the top, head to this exceedingly sceney hotel bar, which has been transformed into a winter wonderland complete with an icicle chandelier and toy penguins outfitted in their holiday best. There’s nothing like a fake penguin in a vest and top hat to make you want to drink, right? The bar will open at 5pm and stay open as long as the party goes on.
Head down to the Seaport for an afternoon full of old-fashioned, tavern-style drinking on Pearl St. Feel free to wear your Christmas PJs, in case things get sloppy.
Get cozy at this Conrad Hotel wine bar/restaurant with a seasonal cocktail menu featuring warm drinks like a boozy hazelnut hot chocolate spiked with Baileys and Frangelico, spiked hot apple cider, and a hot toddy made with fresh peppermint, served until 2am.
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.
1. Bill's Bar and Burger22 9th Ave, New York
2. ROKC3452 Broadway, New York
3. Seamstress339 East 75th Street, New York
4. Playa Betty's320 Amsterdam Ave, New York
5. Kings County Imperial20 Skillman Ave, Brooklyn
6. Leave Rochelle Out of It205 Chrystie St, New York
7. Planet Rose219 Avenue A, New York
8. LOCL Bar (NYLO)2178 Broadway, New York
9. Oficina Latina24 Prince St, New York
10. Boulton & Watt5 Ave A, New York
11. Jake's Dilemma430 Amsterdam Ave, New York
12. The Palm Court768 5th Ave, New York
13. Nitehawk Cinema136 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
14. Balvanera152 Stanton St., New York
15. Dream Downtown355 W 16th St, New York
16. Ulysses Folk House95 Pearl St, New York
17. Atrio Wine Bar & Restaurant102 N End Ave, New York
18. Q.E.D. - A Place to Show & Tell2716 23rd Ave, Astoria
Coming from Stephen Hanson of BR Guest Hospitality (the group behind Atlantic Grill, Blue Water Grill, Dos Caminos, and others), Bill's Bar and Burger is an East Coast chain known for its as-classic-as-it-comes burgers made with a secret blend. Bill's Meatpacking satellite has a '50s diner meets Memphis 'cue joint vibe with its standing counter, neon signs, and tin and dark wood accents. And addition to burgers, guests can also explore an impressive whiskey menu.
Once you know what the ROKC acronym means, this Hamilton Heights spot's appeal becomes immediate: ramen, oysters, kitchen, and cocktails. Opened by veterans of Angel's Share (disputably the mother venue of the speakeasy trend in NYC) -- Shigefumi Kabashima and Tetsuo Hasegawa -- the small 25-seat tavern does shoyu broth noodle bowls (soy heavy), Japanese tapas like spicy shrimp buns, and raw bar bites worth visiting for. Still, but the primary lure could be the innovative menu of heavy-hitting cocktails by Joji Wantanabe (formerly of the Experimental Cocktail Club). The drinks are as strong as they are beautifully presented, and their effect can be intoxicating: in one, passion-fruit rum is mixed with vanilla and pineapple in an ornamental copper mug before the lime that sits atop the drink gets blow-torched.
Seamstress takes an emphasis on all-American cocktails to unprecedented levels with a menu that features 50 classic drinks from across the country. Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmopolitans, Moscow Mules, and Whiskey Sours are all represented, as well as lesser known state favorites worth exploring. The rest of the drink menu is split into six distinct sections: fresh, spirit forward, low proof, elaborate, large format, and nonalcoholic. You won't find typical bar food here, which means you can expect to pair your New York Sour with a triple cream cheese smoked mutton burger.
This beachy restaurant on the Upper West Side serves coastal Californian fare with a Mexican slant. The menu is heavy on tacos, which include traditional fish and al pastor varieties and non-traditional jerk chicken and fried oyster ones. The large space is reminiscent of a beachside surfing hangout with plenty of tables, a wraparound bar, and a take-out window.
With a factory in China barrel-aging and sun-fermenting its house soy sauce and a garden on the back patio growing Central Chinese herbs, spices, and vegetables (like tatsoi and Sichuan peppercorns), BQE-adjacent Kings County Imperial is Williamsburg’s localized vision of Sichuan food. The menu boasts a modernized version of the flavor-packed regional cuisine, and is divided into categories for dumplings, buns, dim sum, vegetables, and “Big Wok Traditional” items (get the Mapo Dofu, thank us later). The beverage program is tiki-centric, with cocktails that complement the spices found on the menu. Kings County is great for groups (it is dim sum, after all), and the Lazy Susan booths are proof.
This bodega-turned-bar offers over 150 types of whiskey, no-nonsense cocktails, and above-average bar food. It's decorated with subway tiles and funky mirrors, and you can expect loud music and movies playing from the TV screens. The best part? The sign in the bathroom politely asking you to fornicate somewhere other than the restroom...
This East Village karaoke lounge will give your night a solid dose of diva kitsch. Complete with lipstick red walls, zebra print furniture, and plenty of overconfident tone-deaf singers, Planet Rose is the answer when you're looking to spice up your usual Saturday night routine. The drinks are relatively cheap, but your best bet is to come early for the two-for-one happy hour. Planning a big group night out? The entire place can be rented out for an evening of liquid courage-fueled entertainment.
Up sixteen floors at the Upper West Side's NYLO Hotel lives LOCL, a terrace bar with Central Park and Hudson River views. The industrial modern space has lots of levels, creating distinct areas where you can grab a table for beers and Italian-leaning small plates or opt for a nook with leather couches for a cocktail and conversation. The drink menus, as well as the interiors, get seasonal makeovers throughout the year, keeping things interesting.
This upscale Soho eatery is designed to resemble a roadside stop along the Carrera Panamericana -- a 50s road race that spanned the Pan-American highway. The dining room is best described as a stylish rendering of a mechanic's garage, with rubber-caged construction lights, tables plated in rusted sheet metal, and a full-fledged 1965 BMW motorcycle on display. Black-and-white photographs from the race line the walls, along with a melange of other vintage fixings. Primarily focused on Latin fare -- the dominate cuisine along the route -- the kitchen also serves globally influenced dishes like chicken-chorizo paella and grilled Portuguese octopus.
The dining room at Boulton & Watt is heavily reminiscent of the Industrial Revolution -- but with far more beer and oysters. The Alphabet City gastropub is littered with rusted gears and pulleys, all tastefully arranged around tall windows and communal wooden tables. The contemporary menu offers a creative take on bar food with snacks like "Brats in a Blanket" and duck confit queso fondito, plus unconventional pickle varieties (pineapple with habanero, mint, and basil, for one). Updates on age-old classics round out the cocktail menu, as do pickle-back shots.
Jake's Dilemma is essentially the Upper West Side's very own frat house. Known for rowdy games of beer pong, a collection of foosball tables, and a dedicated gang of drinkers that likely belong to frats of their own, the Amsterdam Ave bar is replete with all the makings of a college party. The daily happy hour is a huge draw for its half-price drinks and discounts on wings and nachos. The music is loud and strictly Top 40 (with a few tasteful 2000s throwbacks), and the bartenders are no-nonsense and efficient.
Having served as New York's most coveted tea party destination for over a decade, The Palm Court at The Plaza is a mecca for finger sandwiches and china tea pots. In 2013, however, the tea room was renovated to include its very own bar -- excellent news for those who require a drink at 5pm, in lieu of a floral-painted cup of chamomile. And while the dainty sandwiches and doll-sized desserts aren't going anywhere, celeb chef Geoffrey Zakarian revamped the menu, as part of the eatery's relaunch, to include a more comprehensive selection of contemporary-American small plates. Reminiscent of Central Park, the space itself is littered with potted plants, hanging vines, and ceiling-high palm trees, all of which sit beneath a regal stained-glass-dome skylight. And while guests of the hotel are welcome to all of its greenery-framed, stained glass-lit amenities, The Palm court, maintaining all of the simple elegance of The Plaza, is open to the public.
Williamsburg's Nitehawk Cinema changed the movie-going game when it opened in 2011. Not only did it relieve L Train film buffs of venturing into Manhattan to see an indie flick, but it combined the movie experience with actually enjoyable food and alcohol. The theater seats here are equipped with tiny tables and menus; during the movie, you write your order on a notepad and a waiter comes by to collect it. The New American selection includes fried chicken sandwiches, fish tacos, and flatbreads, plus specials crafted to honor the headlining movies. Even if you aren't in the mood for a movie, it's worth showing up to Nitehawk: the street-level Lo-Res Bar is outfitted with a large curving bar and tables for sipping and snacking.
In addition to the traditional Argentine focus on lots and lots of meat (skirt steak, strip loin, bone-in rib eye), this spot is making moves to please the veggie lovers out there with a focus on meatless dishes as well, including burrata with grilled peaches and ricotta cavatelli with tomato confit, lava beans, spinach, and fiore sardo cheese.
This boutique hotel, stationed in the heart of New York's club-centric meat-packing district, offers just about every dining and drinking experience out there. With a self-proclaimed specialty in "after-dark services," the hotel has four separate bars, each designed to exhibit a different theme. The Electric Room, one of two Dream bars built sub-sidewalk, is accessible only through an unmarked door beside one of the hotel's loading ramps. The space is filled with gothic chandeliers and leather embossed couches, where patrons can sip craft cocktails to a Radiohead-heavy soundtrack. Several floors above, PH-D, the luxury hotel's penthouse bar, features a live DJ, a generally crowded dance floor, and a Portoro marble-decked lounge area, where (notoriously elite) guests can sit and admire the tirelessly romantic city views below. Just beyond this glass-encased party-haven lies Dream's summer rooftop paradise, The Beach, complete with imported sand, a pool, and of course, a bar and DJ booth of its own.
Named for James Joyce's Ulysses, this FiDi bar is fittingly both Greek and Irish-themed. The dark, heavy wooded dining room maintains the charm of a divey Irish pub, while the romantic collection of outdoor tables lends itself to a sunny Mediterranean theme. The menu offers everything from lamb gyro and lobster rolls to bangers and mash, in addition to an expansive list of spirits. Between midnight and 4am, Ulysses serves a menu of late-night food like nachos and mini cheeseburgers, but at that point, the majority of the crowd is far more interested in getting their hands on a pint.
It's a treat to walk through the grand, heigh-ceilinged lobby of the uber-contemporary Conrad hotel to find Atrio, a wine bar and Mediterranean-inflected restaurant with a distinctly modern feel. The menu makes use of traditional and reliable dishes -- truffled pizza, risottos, roasted seafood, steak for-two -- with some items harboring surprises, like a paella made with Israeli couscous instead of rice. Any meal should be paired with wine, from Spanish reds and Bordeaux-style blends to Italian whites and champagnes, though deep pockets are required.
Astoria's Q.E.D. isn't your typical bar, think of it more like the proprietor and comedy producer Kambri Crews does, as an "after-school space for grown-ups." During the day, the multi-purpose room serves coffee up front and gives classes on everything from composting to improv, while at night it serves as a venue for comedy and poetry slams. Want to illustrate and imbibe? Come to the drink 'n' draw events. Want to host your own class? Give it a try. The 60-seat space, with beer and wine available, has hosted the likes of comedy heavy-hitters such as Ted Alexandro, Frank Conniff, and a bunch of SNL writers in the narrow room with a stage in the back.