If winter is good for anything, it’s cozying up by the fireplace. Don’t have one? Nor do we, so we bundled up and headed out to find some snug spots to warm our toes.
Several Manhattan hotels have a welcoming fire aglow in the lobby, but the Refinery Hotel takes the opposite approach with a brick fireplace as the winter centerpiece of its rooftop bar. Its inviting design includes terracotta flooring, Persian rugs and wood paneling (constructed from the original building’s water tank), capped by views of the Empire State Building. Refinery executive chef, Jeffrey Forrest, completes the picture with a warming toddy.
“My favorite to enjoy by the fire is the Chef’s Cider, which pairs perfectly with our sweet potato fries," Forrest says. "The sweet and savory flavors from the fries’ brown sugar and Aleppo pepper are a perfect match for the Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and lemon in our cider.”
Indeed, it’s amazing what a mug of hot cider and a fireplace can do for the spirit. Nic Ratner, co-owner of The Ninth Ward, insists on having both fired up for passers-by. The sandwich board outside reads “fireplace” and it's an instant draw for people looking to warm up. East Village regulars are hearth-huggers, too. Ratner's mulled cider is "just perfect for sipping by the fire,” he tells us, and besides rib-sticking gumbo or chili-spiced mac 'n’ cheese, Ratner says the gravy-soaked poutine is a popular fireside nibble. “It’s good for sharing with friends.”
For more than 70 years, Bar 21 has hosted holiday lunches and dinners around its fireplace in the lounge, during which the Salvation Army Band plays carols and holiday tunes. Set on the 21 Club’s ground floor, Bar 21’s real wood-burning fire is a rarity when, mostly, gas-fired ones warm our cockles.
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For these seasonal events, executive chef John Greeley prepares a three-course prix fixe that includes one of his winter favorites: Lobster pie with a Nantua sauce. The French dish has a béchamel-based fish sauce and a rich, buttery finish — "an homage to 21's classic menus," Greeley says. There are holiday luncheon and dinner seatings through Dec. 24th.
Forget dessert — sipping a Brandy Alexander by the fire at Lantern’s Keep is a sweet seasonal treat. The drink originated at Rector's in New York City as a gin cocktail, created by bartender Troy Alexander. “Later, brandy was substituted for the gin,” says Lantern’s Keep’s head bartender Rene Hidalgo. “The brandy based version, or Alexander #2, is a rich, yet balanced cocktail, and a perfect substitute for dessert.”
If you go:
Refinery Hotel: 63 W. 38th St., 646-664-0310
The Ninth Ward: 180 Second Ave., 212-979-9273
Bar 21: 21 W. 52nd St., 212-582-7200
Lantern's Keep: 49 W. 44th St., 212-453-4287