Fireside Sips

Here’s where to share a warm toast with someone this winter

Hickory Old Fashioned_

When you need a break from the polar vortex, nothing gets the chills out of bones like a good fire—and a stiff drink. That’s why we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite bars where you can sip a cocktail fireside.

Bar 21

Once a prohibition-era speakeasy complete with disappearing bars and a secret wine cellar, the 21 Club is a Manhattan landmark, long a watering hole for politicians and celebrities. Now with operations running happily aboveboard, it’s sectioned into the sports-paraphernalia-adorned dining room, a formal upstairs private dining area, and a cozy spot for drinks called the Bar ‘21’ and Lounge. Lacquered wood walls, carpeted floors, and a superb wine and liquor collection amassed over the past 85 years give it the air of a Manhattan blue-blood’s study—a classy spot to throw back a few cocktails from its menu of signature drinks. Grab one of the plush high-back chairs by the fireplace against the back wall and toast the town with a ‘21’ Perfect Manhattan. (52nd St. nr. Fifth Ave.)

Empire Rooftop Lounge


With simultaneous views out over Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, and Central Park, the Empire Rooftop Lounge atop the Empire Hotel is just the place to be romanced by the city. Come winter, its couches and live music—from jazz to DJs—are made all the better by a gas fireplace adding warmth and dim lighting to the glass-enclosed space, spacious enough at 3,000-square-feet to give you plenty of privacy (though weekends are known to get a bit rowdier). Dress for the occasion as the professional crowd here is undeniably hip, as is the cocktail menu, whose Cloud Twelve—gin, pear vodka, pineapple juice, lemon, and ginger beer—nods to the lounge’s setting 12 stories high. (63rd St. at Broadway)

Forty Four at the Royalton

Among the many lobby bars on the island of Manhattan, Forty Four at the Royalton Hotel is among the most stunning—a massive lounge filled with an ambitious mix of Balinese wood, hanging globe lights, and low, sequestered booths ideal for intimate tête-à-têtes. It could not be chicer, nor could the clientele and drinks. There’s mulled wine served with spiced rum or cognac; the bourbon-based Chai daisy; a strong absinthe float; and old fashioneds—which some critics claim are the best in the city—coming in hickory, rosemary, and mescal renditions. But even for all the punch the drinks pack, the centerpiece of Forty Four remains its 20-foot roaring fireplace. (44th St. nr. Sixth Ave.)

Lantern’s Keep

More than a century old and neighbors with the Harvard, New York Yacht, Yale, and City clubs, the Iroquois Hotel has history in its walls. Its Wigwam Bar stood for nearly 60 years before a 13 million dollar renovation of the hotel saw it to an end; but now, Lantern’s Keep continues the hotel’s tradition of excellent libations. With an austere Parisian look and just 25 seats in front of a black-lacquered fireplace, there’s a purposeful formality here, as its drinks are things to take seriously. Made by some of the best bartenders in the city, they’re divided on the menu by style (shaken and served up, stirred rocks, etc.) and only made with fine liquors, liqueurs, and bitters. However, succumbing your order to bartender’s choice will often render the most sophisticated results. (44th St. nr. Fifth Ave.)

(Photo Credit: Hickory Old Fashioned at Forty Four)