Cheers! The Best Hotel Drinks of the 2010 Holiday Season

Christmas 2010 is history, but the holidays roar on. And so does this season’s round of holiday drinks at around town, even if holiday libations at hotels are rare this year.

We found a trio of New York hotel bars that remain in a holiday mood.

Hearing about an eggless eggnog called Bah Humbug, we headed to the rooftop Jimmy Bar at The James. It was a chilly night before the Big Snow, but Jimmy proved a sweet haven with heart-stop views of the Hudson, potted firs swathed in fairy lights and velvet banquettes, all warmed (visually, at least) by a glass-fronted fireplace.

The drink, a luxurious amber mix of Flor de Cana rum, three liquors and Velvet Falernum (a sweet syrup flavored with fruit, nut and spice), nestled comfortably in an old-fashioned glass over one enormous block of ice, embedded with a cinnamon stick ($17). Curled up on a banquette, we gazed onto the river and sipped. Bliss.

Big ice cubes are a trend you may have noticed. Some bars, like the Randolph Lounge, chip them off enormous blocks. Jimmy uses molds, the better to flavor them with cinnamon, spice and everything, well, nice, the bartender explained.

Lured by its full menu of holiday concoctions, we headed up to the Empire Hotel across from Lincoln Center. Passing on the Ho Ho Hot Toddy, which sounded like a boozy riff on a Starbucks latte, we opted for the Kiss’eltoe (Plymouth gin, homemade cranberry sauce, lemon juice and sparkling wine).  Too late. A party of six at the next table apparently used up the last of the cranberry sauce leaving us to make due — happily –with It’s All Gravy Baby:  Bacardi Gold,  spiced syrup, cinnamon-spiced apple juice and lemon juice ($15). The lobby bar, with its double-height ceiling, long velvet curtains and animal-print pillows, proved a cozy lair.

Surprise: the holiday drinks at Intercontinental New York Barclay’s are Latin-inflected. But though the setting of this 1920s neo-Federalist building is more evocative of Alexander Hamilton than Cuba (or Nevis), the drinks proved a pleasing blend of seasonal flavors and Latin spices.  The Holiday Mojito ($15) made with an apple cider Calvados mixture and rimmed with brown sugar hit the seasonal sweet spot.


1 reply
  1. Frank
    Frank says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve actually had the Holiday Margarita at the Barclay’s. Quite good — a twist on a classic.


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