New York: 6 cafes, bars and chocolatiers to warm you up this winter


Get in line (not online) at La Colombe Torrefaction in New York. Photo: Dan Nguyen
Get in line (not online) at La Colombe Torrefaction in New York. Photo: Dan Nguyen

It’s easy to shy away from New York City during the cold months of January and February. While temperatures are low and days are often gray, these months are also home to some of the cheapest hotel rates of the year. Stretch your budget by visiting during the depth of winter, and keep warm with these hot drinks for day and a whole other variety for night.

By Day

Daytime hot drinks are all about frothy, rich concoctions in big mugs that instantly warm you up. The best spots in New York also offer a space to kick back—preferably by a window for some people watching.

1. Cappuccino at La Colombe
270 Lafayette Street, 400 Lafayette Street, 629 West 27th Street
Web site

Remember back when coffee shops were laptop free? At first it might seem strange that La Colombe doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, but when you go inside and people are reading a book or chatting with neighbors, the atmosphere is surprisingly refreshing. Linger over a cappuccino at the La Colombe in SoHo, NoHo, or TriBeCa.

hot chocolate

Pure decadence at Jacques Torres. Photo: VancityAllie

2. Hot Chocolate at Jacques Torres
350 Hudson Street (and other locations)
Web site

On Hudson Street in the West Village, stop into Jacques Torres for a thick, creamy hot chocolate that could serve as a full meal substitute. Add one of his delicious cookies, and you could definitely skip lunch. This is the best location of his empire as you can also watch chocolate being made with vintage equipment behind glass.

3. Caffe Reggio
119 MacDougal Street
Web site

New York is full of the latest coffee bars, but one classic worth revisiting is Caffe Reggio on MacDougal Street. This café claims to have served the first cappuccino in New York City back in 1927. A mish-mosh of tables and chairs in the spacious interior attracts both local NYU students and artistic types working on projects or meeting colleagues for a coffee. With this much space, you can warm up for as long as you like.

By Night

Hot drinks are infused with something extra by night. A sometimes small, sometimes generous, portion of booze warms you up from the inside out.

1. Coffee Cocktails at the Randolph
349 Broome Street
Web site

The Randolph is one of those rare bars that is serious about both its coffee and its cocktails. It only makes sense that in a spot serving coffee by day and cocktails by night, a coffee cocktail list should be born. These concoctions are available hot or cold, but the best options for winter are the hot, fragrant variety. A changing list keeps things exciting.

A Hot (and bothered) Toddy at the John Dory Oyster Bar. Photo: Wally G

2. Hot Toddy at the John Dory Oyster Bar
Ace Hotel New York, 1196 Broadway
Web site

Whether or not your budget allows for a meal at the Ace Hotel’s ever-popular John Dory Oyster Bar, you can stop in to warm up with a Hot Toddy at the bar. The version here includes lemon, cinnamon, star anise, and Knob Creek bourbon. If you arrive between 5 and 7pm, you can take advantage of the Happy Hour oyster deal once you’re all warmed up.

3. Mulled Cider at Shoolbred’s
197 2nd Avenue
Web site

In the East Village, there’s a winter cocktail list at Shoolbred’s. Their signature cocktail is the Hot Toddy, but another seasonal item is the mulled cider, fragrant with spices and topped with Courvoisier. If you want to share with friends, this is also available by the pitcher. Arrive early and you might snag the coveted seats by the fireplace.

Also in our guide: Headed to New York this winter (or any other season)? Be sure to swing by our city guide to read our reviews of the best budget hotels in New York City. All of our picks have been inspected and approved by our editors.

About the author

Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at

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