Winter cocktails are a cold-weather essential. They really help make the season bright once the glow of the holidays has worn off. And while, in winters past, we’ve huddled in our favorite, cozy, hygge-inspired cocktail bars, away from the icy wind, that’s less of an option these days. That means, in order to safely imbibe, we may have to take to the rooftops and terraces with heat lamps and woven blankets to enjoy the NYC winter cocktail game. Here, nine outdoor bars in New York City you can visit in any season—and get an artfully crafted cocktail.
Dante NYC, largely regarded as one of the world’s best cocktail bars, has taken their mixology operation outdoors, and the result is just as charmingly European-esque as you’d imagine. Dante now has two locations (the new Dante West Village just softly opened in fall 2020), but only Caffe Dante has glass-separated outdoor tables and heat lamps. At Caffe Dante, cocktail enthusiasts can sip on a rotating selection of seasonal cocktails (think: Gingerbread Negroni), plus classics like their Champagne Julep or Petit Fours Sazerac.
The NoMad Rooftop takes on a new atmosphere in every season, reinventing both their space and cocktail program each time. This winter, the NoMad Rooftop is decked out with a heated open-air tent, leather sofas, and luxurious décor for guests to enjoy multicourse meals or appetizers and cocktails al fresco. The NoMad Hotel certainly has some drinking clout; The NoMad Cocktail Book, in fact, won a James Beard Award and the NoMad Bar is run by acclaimed bar director Leo Robitschek. While the bar is currently closed, the cocktail program has resumed on the roof, where you’ll enjoy a curated cocktail selection.
There are few outdoor dining spots more romantic than Cecconi’s Dumbo, where you’ll dine on their private waterfront, in full view of the Brooklyn Bridge. A renowned Italian restaurant with global outposts, the cocktail talent is sometimes overlooked at Cecconi’s (the reserve red wines and enticing menu are, understandably, quite distracting). But if you’re looking for a great outdoor cocktail bar in NYC, look no further than the Negroni menu at Cecconi’s. They also have three house tonics—two with 42 Below vodka, one with Cazadores reposado—and lovely Italian after-dinner cocktails.
When is Gitano not the place to be? From Tulum to Miami to NYC, Gitano’s reputation for tea light-lined, tropical-inspired patio spaces and well-mixed cocktails holds up. Visit Gitano’s Garden of Love in New York, where you’ll want to snag a seat near the wood-burning oven or open fire (which they use to cook fresh, authentic Mexican fare) and a cozy fleece blanket in the colder months. Sip a mezcalita or a fine reposado tequila, paired with Gitano’s king crab tostada, shrimp tacos, and fire-grilled carne asada.
Mondrian Park Avenue, a sbe property in NoMad, has a year-round rooftop bar, Mondrian Terrace, which, much like the NoMad Rooftop, evolves each season. In the winter, it becomes Alpine Terrace, with a heated tent on the outdoor terrace, mulled wine, seasonal cocktails, and some truly excellent Scandi-chic décor pieces. As the weather warms, the tent comes down, but the potency of the cocktails does not.
Ampia Restaurant & Rooftop
Ampia Restaurant & Rooftop opened a mere six months prior to COVID-19-related restaurant closures. Nonetheless, their stunning outdoor bar and restaurant, Ampia Rooftop, is the place to be this year. The roof has private greenhouses, an al fresco VIP area, and a gorgeous bar setup. Enjoy their Mediterranean-inspired cuisine alongside high-end cocktails, like the Smokey Nouveau with rye whiskey, a Laphroaig triple wood scotch, and a pêche de vigne liqueur. Their cocktail menu uses fresh juices and innovative housemade syrups, like the horchata and matcha syrup you’ll find in their Maya cocktail.
A true anomaly, Loulou Bistro opened in Chelsea during the pandemic. The self-described French bistro and speakeasy exudes Parisian charm, and even while having drinks on the patio, you’ll benefit from their speakeasy-inspired cocktails. This winter, try the Spiced Chocolate with habanero tequila, Valrhona chocolate, and hazelnut liqueur, or sample their signature La Vie en Rose, which has mezcal, watermelon, and basil, among other fresh flavors.
The Greens on Pier 17
The Greens, an outdoor food and beverage concept on Pier 17, has beautiful glassed-in rooftop greenhouses perfect for enjoying semi-al fresco libations with your inner circle. And, fittingly enough, they’re serving Dante cocktails at The Greens, with recipes developed specifically for this outdoor activation. From the mulled cider and hot toddies, served in Yeti outdoor drinkware, to Dante’s iconic Negroni sessions, the libation talent on Pier 17 this winter is exceptional. Enjoy it alongside cozy, upstate New York-inspired atmosphere and cuisine.
The William Vale, perched overlooking Manhattan near the Williamsburg waterfront, is home to Westlight, the hotel’s 22nd-floor cocktail bar. Westlight’s sprawling patio, with stunning views of the water and the city beyond, has couches, chairs, and tables assembled for guests, who can cozy up under blankets in the colder months, or lounge in the sunshine each summer. Serving small plates and homemade pizza and pastas from Leuca, the William Vale’s cocktail program shines at Westlight. Try a Lavender Lake 18, with reposado tequila and crème de cacao, or their gin-based Bronx Tail 18, with yellow Chartreuse and St. Germain.