Tap into your holiday spirit and put in some oversharing overtime with your co-workers at after-work drinks.
When you need to knock off a little early and get the holiday cheer flowing, your choice of venue is of the utmost importance. You'll want enough space for the group, plus somewhere you can cruise into without a reservation. Upon conferring with very knowledgeable consultants (our booze-friendly editors, of course), we've made a list (and checked it twice!) sure to give you that tipsy, festive feeling.
From downtown dive standbys (Botanica, Nancy Whiskey, Tom & Jerry's) to Midtown mega-restaurants (Johnny Utah's, Brasserie 8½) to Brooklyn beverage halls (Superfine, Spritzenhaus), these picks will keep the cheer and holiday hijinks flowing.
Please sidebar at your earliest convenience and plan an apres-work tipple in the Big Apple.
Robert, Columbus Circle
Serenity now! This lofty gem offers an unparallelled view of Central Park treetops and the bustling Columbus Circle Holiday Market below—all from nine floors up. You may not be able to belly your entire division up to the bar, but you and your closest colleagues can commandeer a generously sized circular table in the lounge and toast with a glass of bubbly and some small bites as the sun sets on the season.
Sake Bar Hagi, Midtown West
Say you have to work in Times Square (sorry). Say after work you want to get a little loose with other buttoned-up-by-day types. Direct your merry band to this subterranean Japanese izakaya, where the menu is long and cheap, the sake is cold and plentiful and the crowd gets progressively rowdier as the night goes on. Get a fistful of grilled yakitori skewers (everything from chicken gizzards to beef tongue, $5 to $6) and a skillet of okonomiyaki (a savory cabbage-and-pork pancake, $8.50), and settle in for the night.
Johnny Utah's, Midtown West
Every time one of your co-workers falls off the mechanical bull, a passive-aggressive email gets reconsidered. There's no denying that this place is pretty over the top (see: "Midtown" and "mechanical bull.") Just embrace the cheesy fun and know that if you stay long enough, people will ride, which makes for fantastic watercooler fodder. Giddyap.
Brasserie 8½, Midtown
Holidays in New York are a marvelous, magical thing—until you try to jam the whole sales division into a cramped room where everyone's holly is getting just a little too jolly. Descend the spiral staircase and sprawl out in the lounge of this spacious, throwback-swank Midtown oasis. Get there early for the oyster happy hour (4:30 to 7:30 p.m.) and stay for a heaping seafood plateau ($45 to $75), bacon-studded mac 'n' cheese ($11) and a solid selection of wines by the glass. (Dave from accounting is paying.)
Given their abundance, a Midtown hotel bar crawl wouldn't be the worst idea for boozing co-workers. Just be sure that Marc Murphy's Kingside, located inside the Viceroy, makes the itinerary. Expect plenty of snacks (mushroom burrata arancini, salt and pepper fries, $15 and $10), innovative cocktails ($16) like the Walter + Savannah (Michter's bourbon, walnut syrup, peach) and a killer Manhattan. Should the night end in some tipsy ice-skating up the street in Central Park, so be it.
Salt and pepper fries from Kingside | Photo: Tasting Table
Downstairs at Hill Country, Flatiron
If your company isn't footing the bill, downstairs at Hill Country makes going dutch easy. Take turns buying buckets of beers (six PBR Tall Boys for $24 sounds good to us) or get there between 4 and 7 p.m. or 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. for $20 pitchers of Shiner and margaritas. Fill up on a la carte barbecue from upstairs, then settle in for live music Tuesday through Saturday. Better yet, get there on a Tuesday for a humiliatingly awesome round of Live Band Karaoke with your desk mates.
Tom & Jerry's, NoHo
Knock off work a little early with a small group and grab one of the booths that line the wall of this decidedly casual downtown staple. The music is solid and is always just loud enough, there's a good selection of $5 beers for happy hour and no one is going to judge you for ordering the perennial special, gin or vodka with cucumber limeade. Attend the holiday party on December 9 to get your hands on a Tom & Jerry bowl, the only day of the year you can get their eponymous cocktail, a variation on eggnog with brandy and rum—or admire the vintage T&J sets as decor for the rest of the season. The prime hours here are between 5 and 7 p.m., after which you'll most likely have to hope for a bar seat or stand. Also: cash only.
Descend the stairs to a subterranean punk rock-ish joint filled with bearded, tatted Soho tech workers. Nothing will make you forget about your last fumbled PowerPoint presentation like cheap cocktails, such as a cold, frosty mug of the sweet-and-sour Ginger Yum-Yum (a concoction made from vodka, ginger beer and fresh ginger) for just $9. The bar's tattered couches are the perfectly dodgy setting for making bad decisions with one of your co-workers. Take that, mistletoe.
Nancy Whiskey, Tribeca
This just-below-Canal, bilevel Tribeca dive has the best onion rings ($5 to $6) in the city—or maybe they just taste that way after a few pitchers of Stella and shots of Jameson (one of the many whiskeys on offer). Stake out tables in the low-ceilinged downstairs—the upstairs always feels like a ghost town—then order drinks and a mess of fried food (served 'til around midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends). Once you've crunched through a few of those deliciously greasy onion rings and worked up some liquid courage, challenge your boss to a "friendly" game of shuffleboard by the narrow bar.
The Magician, Lower East Side
There's little magic to speak of at this Lower East Side dive, and that's what makes it so great. It's just a bar. A big, sparsely decorated, well-priced, solidly jukeboxed bar smack dab in the middle of the city's nightlife capital. It's rarely packed, and happy hour runs until 8 p.m. And you know what? In the middle of the holiday onslaught, sometimes that's all you need.
Kingside's mac 'n' cheese | Photo: Tasting Table
Fraunces Tavern, Financial District
It's not every day that your office outing ends at a national historic monument—George Washington made this Financial District pub the headquarters for peace talks with the British—so do as our founding fathers did and grab a pint. This museum-like brick house has an extensive beer menu, featuring a rotating roster of local brewers (at the moment, it's Queens-based Singlecut), but make sure to wander over to the Dingle Whiskey Bar inside with a 200-plus strong whiskey menu, focused mainly on bourbon and Irish pours.
Trading Post, Financial District
This is where you go to impress your banking bros. Yes, there are wide-screen TVs, but this sprawling South Street Seaport bar screams your great-grandfather's cigar lounge more than sloppy sports bar. Velvet curtains enclose spacious leather booths, and they're pretty easy to snatch up for your group. You're a good guy, so in the spirit of giving, buy a round during happy hour—$5 drafts, $7 wines and $8 French Martinis and cosmos (Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.)—but you can let your boss handle snacks, like luxe seafood decks brimming with oysters, clams, lobster and jumbo shrimp ($60 to $110).
Superfine is built into the kind of sprawling ex-warehouse space that reminds you, hey, we're in Dumbo. The spacious digs are put to good use, offering separate areas for bar, restaurant, pool tables and the occasional live music act. The bar can get a little cramped with an after-work crowd, but grab a fancy grilled cheese ($14) or seasonal special to tide you over until things settle.
Don't call it a beer garden—this massive beer hall on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint clocks in at more than 6,000 square feet, with 25-plus German-style beers on tap and a menu of sausages and pretzels to keep you fortified. There are picnic tables aplenty (inside, so Jack Frost doesn't nip your nose), plus Jenga for entertainment.
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