Holiday Fun

Festive Holiday Eating in NYC

Fill out your ugly Christmas sweater with latkes, German brandy, and coquito at these holly-jolly holiday spots.

Deck Rolf's halls with boughs of holly.

You haven’t been able to avoid the holidays since the minute Halloween ended—or the middle of September, depending on which drugstore you frequent. Instead of Grinch-ing out at the sight of a candy cane, why not make the best of the most wonderful time of the year? Get into the spirit at these decked-out bars, festive restaurants, and merry events.

The Classic: Rolf’s

Inside this German eatery’s dining room is the most over-the-top display of holly-jolly merriment you could imagine. The holiday sensory overload includes silver and gold strands of tinsel; mountains of ornaments in shades of pastel pink and crimson; evergreen garland with hidden twinkle lights; long icicles to remind you that winter is coming; and cameos of Saint Nick hiding in plain sight. Insider tip: Don’t wait for a table; just scoot your way to the bar and order yourself a glass of oak-aged plum brandy. 281 Third Avenue (at East 22nd Street), Murray Hill

festive restaurants nyc
Bury yourself in holiday cheer.

A Cheesy Affair: The NoMad Hotel

Inside the perpetually cool hotel’s library is a two-story juggernaut of a spruce. Cozy up next to the chic Christmas tree with an aperitif and a good book from its collection of New York literature before your reservation at the Swiss feast inspired by Chef Daniel Humm’s upbringing. Make an early reservation for the Sunday-only, three-course dinner inside the NoMad Bar (the library closes to the public at 4 p.m.), so you can sleep off the Sunday scaries immediately afterward. 1170 Broadway (at West 28th Street), Flatiron

Served With a Sour Cream Schmear: The Tenth Annual Latke Festival

Latkes are flawless enough on their own—grated potato, always flavored with pungent garlic and onions, pan-fried, accompanied with sour cream—so a night filled with the retro standbys and interpretations catered for the 21st century is especially mouthwatering. Some of the city’s best eateries compete to create winning iterations of the starchy snack at the stunning Brooklyn Museum. Previous participants include the dixie-fave Jacob’s Pickles, the gut-busting Fry Guys, and quintessential Manhattan classic Veselka. Your nibbling goes to a good cause, as well; proceeds will directly benefit the Sylvia Center, a nonprofit battling childhood obesity on the daily. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights; December 3, 6–8:30 p.m.; tickets start at $75

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Eat your weight in fried potato pancakes.

When You Run Out of Eggnog: Coquito Masters Finals

If you don’t know somebody who makes it, chances are you’ve never tried coquito. You’re gravely missing out; the rich libation is the tropical sister of the yuletide staple, laced with two kinds of milk (condensed and coconut) and loaded with spices and rum. This annual event, hosted by the elusive Coquito Contessa, might be your only chance to try it this year. And with the amount of homemade concoctions you’ll be imbibing during the culinary throw-down, you won’t need to drink it again until next winter. Bronx Museum of Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx; December 15, 6:30–9 p.m.; $10

A Holiday Romp in the Bronx: Bar Car Nights at the New York Botanical Garden

The weather outside may turn frightful, but don’t let that stop you from walking through a wintry wonderland with a cocktail in hand. The New York Botanical Garden’s signature Holiday Train Show turns into a 21-plus destination after dark, fully loaded with festive libations, dancers adorned with LED lights, and fire pits perfect for canoodling with your cuffing season partner of choice. Oh, and the enchanting replicas of New York City landmarks living underneath Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are well worth the Metro-North trip alone. New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx; through January 12, 7–10:30 p.m.; $38 (or $28 for members)

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You can’t get these cocktails on the Metro-North, that’s for sure.

Dinner and a Twisted Christmas Movie: The Nitehawk Holiday Show Spectacular

Some of my favorite Christmas-morning memories growing up involve gathering my family around the big-screen TV and watching A Christmas Story all day long (along with the Yule Log, but nobody stuck around to watch that with me). Nitehawk prefers their holiday movies on the dark side, so they’re hosting a monthlong midnight series with some of our favorite sinister flicks—Eyes Wide Shut, Black Christmas, Female Trouble—and sides of spiked coffee and seasonal popcorn. 136 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg; through December 29

Don’t spend another year underneath the mistletoe without anything to do