If you are looking for a way to get in the holiday mood and shopping and shows aren’t your thing, consider having a few pints in some of the most festive pubs in New York City. Here’s my recommendation for a mini Christmas pub crawl, hitting up 5 of New York’s best decorated pubs that even a Scrooge would enjoy. And don’t worry about walking around in the bitter cold weather; the best part of this pub crawl is that these pubs are all within a few blocks of each other. So zip up your winter coat and head down to the Gramercy neighborhood just north of Union Square to get ready for a blast of Christmas beer, er, I mean, cheer.
Let’s Get Drinking!
First Stop – Molly’s
287 Third Avenue at 22nd Street, www.mollyshebeen.com
Christmas lights adorn this local watering hole. Don’t expect anything fancy at Molly’s. Instead, you’ll find a solid neighborhood bar that feels very homey. As soon as you enter Molly’s, you’re greeted with Christmas lights strung throughout the bar. Belly up to the long bar, or grab one of the booths along the wall to enjoy your pint. The back of the bar, which serves as the restaurant area, is also decked out for Christmas. It gets no cozier than this!
Second Stop – Rolf’s
281 Third Avenue at 22 Street, www.rolfsnyc.com
You won’t be able to miss Rolf’s German Bar, just look for a crowd of people hovering by the entrance waiting to get in. This is truly Christmas Land with a bar inside. This place is over the top with its decorations, and while you are sitting at the bar enjoying your $13 pint of beer, you’ll feel as if you are sitting inside a Christmas tree. Every inch of this bar and restaurant is covered with Christmas decorations, mostly Christmas ornaments and garland.
Be warned, this place is hugely popular (deservedly so) and gets packed! If you like German food, you might want to consider making an advanced reservation for lunch or dinner so you can linger to enjoy the holiday splendor. I took my chances and just squeezed into the crowded bar. The good news is, most people at the bar stop in for one drink and leave, so there always seems to be at least some standing room around the bar if not a seat.
Third Stop – Paddy Maguires
237 Third Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets, www.paddymaguiresnyc.com
This neighborhood ale house’s decorations really brighten the bar and definitely your mood. Walking past Peter Maguires, it’s hard not to stop in here for a drink, especially with its nicely decorated window featuring some familiar Christmas faces. It’s your cliché Irish pub so it’s both welcoming and cozy.Here, you’ll mingle with both locals and tourists alike, as you sip on a Jameson Irish Whiskey to warm you up before your next stop.
Fourth Stop – Pete’s Tavern
129 East 18th Street at Irving Place, www.petestavern.com
You’ll definitely get a feeling of nostalgia when you enter Pete’s Tavern during the holiday season. Not only will you find some old-fashioned holiday decorations throughout the bar and restaurant, but you’ll be having a drink in the oldest continuously operating restaurant and bar in New York City. Here, you can enjoy some of their famous home-made eggnog or try a pint of Pete’s 1864 House Ale. If you are feeling hungry on this stop, definitely try their burger; they are known for great burgers .Alternatively, they have nice cozy restaurant in the back of the bar where they serve up Italian-American specialties.
Fifth Stop – Lillie’s
13 E. 17th Street, between 5th Avenue and Broadway, www.unionsquare.lilliesnyc.com
I’ve saved the most charming pub for last. Located in a beautiful turn-of-the-century building, this bar is simply beautiful with or without the Christmas splendor. It oozes Victorian charm with its high ceilings, detailed architecture, lamp sconces, and marble accents. If you move past the bar to the back you’ll find a few red velvet lined booths to lounge in.
You’ll be greeted by two large toy soldiers at the entrance and can enjoy the large Christmas tree in the front of the bar. The rest of the bar is adorned with traditional garlands and ornaments. It is a romantic and relaxing environment with just the right amount of Christmas splendor to make it the perfect place to linger over a few Christmas cocktails.