Knowing how to get through winter in NYC is an acquired skill, although there are a few things you should always remember. One: join a gym. Or a fight club. Whatever keeps you warm and active. Next, remember to enjoy the little things. Savor those moments when you’re the last one to board a subway and you get to watch the people behind you bang on the doors. And, when you have the day off, find a place where you can stay warm and have a drink. The spots on this guide are great for both weekdays and weekends, and they’ll help you make it to the spring with your sanity intact.
If you’re skipping work or hiding from an ex who knows all of your regular bars and wants to have a conversation with you, try The Dead Rabbit. It’s a three-story bar all the way at the bottom of the Financial District, and it’s probably the best Irish pub in the city. It also opens at 11am every day, and they serve plenty of heavier pub foods that’ll help absorb some alcohol and keep you warm on a day when even the underground subway platforms are freezing.
If you feel bad about how small your apartment is, get a drink at Smith & Mills, which is definitely (probably) smaller than your apartment. This is a bar in an old carriage house in Tribeca, and if you take someone here, they will guaranteed think that you are cooler than you actually are. This place also opens at 11am every day, and serves a short lunch menu with things like burrata and a chicken club.
It’s terrible outside, and you don’t want to go somewhere bright with big windows where you’ll be consistently reminded of what you’ll have to deal with on your Monday morning commute. Instead, go to Black Mountain Wine House. This Gowanus wine bar is a dark space that feels like a cabin on a mountaintop in Vermont. There’s even a working fireplace, which you should sit next to while you try any of the 30 wines available by the glass.
We have no idea why this place has such a long name, but as far as we can tell there are no Christmas Liquors here. Mostly, this is just a normal Bushwick bar where you can camp out for an hour or two, have a cheap beer, and eat some solid bar food like a pimento burger and disco fries. It’s a pretty tiny space with couple of bookshelves and a taxidermied deer head, and it opens at noon most days.
Say you want to have a drink in the daytime, but you’d also like to pretend that you’re hanging out in a wing of an Irish person’s mansion in the year 1880. Just head over to 27th Street and get a drink at Oscar Wilde. Inside you’ll find such things as a marble fireplace, stained glass, and plenty of old photos and paintings, many of which are probably haunted. And while you might expect this place to be stuffy and uptight, it’s actually pretty casual and gets somewhat rowdy. Plus, it’s huge, and you guaranteed won’t feel like you’re in NYC.
If you want, you can sit and read a book at the Dead Poet. They have a few lying around (mostly on shelves), and it’s one way to become a better, more interesting person when it’s frigid outside and you have no other pressing business. Other than that, this is a pretty normal bar on the Upper West Side, and while the space isn’t huge, there is a nice little back area where you can grab a table and hide from everyone you know.
Alewife is a big, two-floor space in Long Island City where you should go with friends who tend to complain about places that only have four IPAs on tap. This place has about 30 draft beers, including some they brew themselves, but even if you don’t know the difference between a porter and a pilsner, there’s plenty to keep you entertained, like pool, pinball, and Happy Hour all day Monday through Thursday.
For day drinking in Midtown, you have a few options. You can sit in the lobby of a Sheraton, drink a too-sweet cosmo, and eavesdrop on some Dutch tourists who are trying to figure out where Leo hangs out, or you can go The Shakespeare. It’s a nice, cozy pub in a basement, and they serve everything from steak to kale salad.
Even people who act like crossing the East River is a pilgrimage reserved for concerts and Nets games probably know about Radegast. That’s because this big beer garden has been one of the most popular bars in Williamsburg for over a decade, and it’s still a fun spot to drink steins of European beers and eat sausages and giant pretzels. They also have live music almost every day, including afternoon performances on weekends.
The official alternative to Radegast, Spritzenhaus is a little less popular because a) it’s slightly further from Manhattan and b) the setup isn’t as quaint and beer-garden-y. But the important thing is that less popular means less crowded. Get a beer and some snacks and sit by the fireplace. And if there are people who like you, bring them too. There’s plenty of room.
If you have a brownstone in Park Slope, then enjoy your tumbler of Japanese whiskey while watching the snow fall through your living room window. For everyone else, there’s Union Hall. This two-floor bar feels kind of like a very nice brownstone, with some bookcases, couches, and even a functional fireplace. But unlike the majority of houses, this place gets loud and packed, especially by the full-size bocce courts in the back.
Fools Gold NYC
Fools Gold is a long, narrow room on the Lower East Side, and it has both an excellent beer selection and enough food to soak up said beer. There are also some televisions, and if you come in the daytime and tip the bartender extra, you might be able to get them to turn on The Price Is Right or a soap opera. Probably not, but either way this is a good place to hang out on a cool winter day.
The Black Swan
The Black Swan is the rare sort of NYC pub that isn’t tacky, doesn’t smell bad, and serves a lot of food that you actually want to eat. So if you have the day off in or around Bed-Stuy, and you don’t want to sit at home because your radiator is making sounds like a xenomorph from Aliens, just come get a drink here. There’s a TV above the bar up front, and a big room in the back (where it feels more like a restaurant).
There are two Cooper’s Craft & Kitchen locations in the city, and the one in the East Village is mostly just a not-great bar where someone might spill beer on you, then ask if you’d like to fight about it. The one in Chelsea, however, is great. It’s a little smaller, with a bar up front and an elevated dining room in the back, and, if you squint, you could probably pretend you’re in a log cabin. Plus, there’s a Happy Hour on weekdays until 7pm with discounts on liquor, wine, and their many drafts.
Let’s say you missed your bus at Port Authority or had an epiphany and decided to call out sick while you were walking to work in Midtown. Head over to Beer Authority, get a big table by a window, and stare out at all the traffic on 8th Avenue. This is a huge bar on the second floor of a building on 40th (with a small space on the ground floor, too), and it’s a great place to camp out and have a drink. Despite the name, they also serve wine and cocktails, and there are plenty of TVs for watching sports.
Covenhoven feels less like a bar and more like a friend’s house where there happens to be a large amount of beer. It’s just a little room in Crown Heights with a bunch of tables up front, and there’s a big fridge in the back where you can pick from a huge bottled beer selection. There are also always plenty of obscure things on tap, so if you want to spend your day drinking things you never knew existed, you’ll have fun here.
Not every bar is great for day drinking. Some make you feel like you’re hiding from a bookie or trying to drink away the memories from a heist that went bad and made you change your last name. Woodbines, however, isn’t like that. It’s a nice bright pub in Long Island City, and it’s the sort of place where you can sit at the bar, drink a beer, and read a book when you’re trying to spend minimal time outdoors.
We aren’t sure what DTUT is exactly (or what the letters DTUT actually stand for), but you can just think of it as a coffee shop with a full bar. It feels like a place you’d find in a small college town, and it’s one of the few spots in the city where you can enjoy some DIY s’mores. They also have cheap bottles of wine, a great beer selection, and some board games you can play while it’s snowing outside and everyone thinks you’re working from home.
As a winter day-drinking spot, Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club has a lot going for it. They have 10 shuffleboard courts that you can rent by the hour, there’s a station where you can rent board games, and there are plenty of places to sit. They also have two bars. And all of that makes it pretty ideal for big groups. This is essentially an indoor pool party without a pool, and you could probably take a nap in a corner and not be bothered for several hours.
This isn’t where you end your night, but it’s a good place to drink when it’s too early to stop being able to pronounce your full name. Bleecker Street tends to be either fratty or touristy, but this place isn’t really either. So stop by and have a beer. They have a good selection, and there are enough windows that you might catch a little vitamin D before the sun sets.
There are lots of pubs on the Upper East Side, but there aren’t many you can hang out in for more than a drink or two before things get weird. And that’s why The Jeffrey draws a crowd. It gets busy, but you can snag a big table in the rear when it’s too freezing to be in the backyard.
The Wayland gets plenty of light, so you won’t have to worry about feeling like a vampire here. It’s also nice and charming on the inside, so you won’t have to worry about feeling like a barfly, either. (You will be a barfly, of course, but at least you’ll be one with good taste.)
Sisters feels sort of like a dollhouse for a doll that went to Wesleyan and double majored in Art History and Romance Studies. But isn’t that what you want when you’re day drinking? If you just answered yes in your head, read on. Sisters opens at 8am every weekday (and 10:30am on weekends), and lunch starts at 11:30. They don’t serve all their cocktails in the daytime, but you should be able to get something like a bloody Mary or a glass of wine. This place is a cross between a restaurant and a bar, it’s big and bright, and the whole setup is very relaxing.
When you think about neighborhoods with great bars, Hell’s Kitchen probably isn’t the first that comes to mind. But if you live or work in the area, you should know about As Is. It’s bright and well-designed, and in the daytime it feels sort of like a coffee shop. They also serve a bunch of beers that only serious beer nerds will be familiar with, and they have cocktails and natural wines as well. So, while we don’t say this often, maybe you should go hang out on 50th Street.
We have to include Spring Lounge on this list because it’s one of our favorite dive bars, and they open at 8am every day except Sunday. So, say your parents are in town, and they want to have a weekend breakfast. Not brunch, breakfast - because they don’t understand the difference - and you all head over to Balthazar while the sun’s still rising. Fortunately, you can hit up Spring Lounge immediately after and take the edge off your Saturday morning before your friends are even out of bed.
Ramona is pretty grown-up - but in the daytime, that’s how you like to feel. The earlier it is, the older you act. So come to Ramona, grab a table on the second-floor balcony, and sip something while you stare out the window and make an implausible five-year plan. This is the nicest cocktail bar in Greenpoint, but it’s still pretty casual, and they open at 2pm on weekends.
We wouldn’t send you here for date night, but if you need a quiet drink with a friend, it’s perfect. Eastwood is a cleaner and brighter alternative to the many dives of the LES, and they have a good selection of Middle Eastern-influenced food to snack on. Drink-wise, they serve beer and wine only - but that’s not a bad thing. You shouldn’t shoot tequila before banks close, unless you’re on vacation or you really want to.
Bob's Your Uncle
Bob’s Your Uncle has two things we truly appreciate: board games and jello shots. So if you’re looking for something to do at 2pm on a Saturday, know that you can have a very good time here. The space is pretty plain, with brick walls and wooden tables, and it’s a perfectly good place to kill some time with a couple of friends on the Upper West Side, especially during Happy Hour (weekdays from 2-7pm).
The Rookery isn’t the best bar in Bushwick, but it also isn’t the worst. Mostly this place is just good for group hangs, late-night eats, and day drinking. They’re open for lunch (or brunch) every day, and there’s plenty of room inside. This place is also cleaner than your average bar, and it doesn’t smell like someone’s trying to mask the scent of vomit with copious amounts of bleach.
If you’re really into beer and you enjoy watching sports on TV, Rattle N Hum is one of your best options in Midtown. This place isn’t quite as nice as The Shakespeare, but it’s a good spot to hang out with a few friends who couldn’t care less whether a bar has neon beer signs and barrels repurposed as furniture.
The thing about drinking at a hotel in the daytime is that people might assume you’re on vacation, and then they won’t judge you. And that sounds like a check mark in the win column. You can eat breakfast or lunch here any day, or you can drink breakfast or lunch here any day. The choice is yours. There are also plenty of windows through which you can watch tourists getting lost on Bowery.
The Levee isn’t a pretty bar. It’s just a Williamsburg dive that has board games, pinball, and a pool table. When you’re day drinking, you need stuff like that to distract yourself from the fact that you’re not reading a book or doing your taxes. The drinks are also super-cheap here, and they give you free cheese puffs. And the only thing that tastes better than free cheese puffs is, um, actually most things. But, at the same time, most things aren’t free.