A Bar Owner’s Guide to New York City With Paul Ramirez

Paul Ramirez, owner of the Bronx Beer Hall, shares some of his favorite spots for food and drinks around NYC
Paul Ramirez, owner of the Bronx Beer Hall, shares some of his favorite spots for food and drinks around NYC | © Matthew Rodriguez
Alicia Miller

Whether you want mulled wine or chic cocktails for saluting the season, our insider knows the finest festive drinking dens in the Big Apple…

Born and raised in New York, entrepreneur Paul Ramirez owns and runs the Bronx Beer Hall. When he’s not tending the bar, he’s committed to changing perceptions of the Bronx, showing off the unique culture and diversity of what he calls “New York’s proudest borough.” We sat down over a craft beer or two to talk hotels with house cats, frozen s’mores and espresso martinis that give “the city that never sleeps” new meaning.

1. The Bronx Beer Hall

Bakery, Bar, Market, Italian

The Bronx Beer Hall
© The Bronx Beer Hall
“Our beer hall is in the Bronx’s Little Italy, the real Little Italy of New York. It’s on Arthur Avenue, in an old retail market with a butcher, gelato-seller, cigar roller and pizzeria. We serve all New York craft beers and state wines. Being an Italian area, things really get decked out for the holidays, with lights and carolers everywhere. Anything that screams Christmas to you, Arthur Avenue does it. In the bar, we make our own mulled wine to celebrate – and while the exact recipe is secret, it includes a blend of reds from Brotherhood, America’s oldest winery.”

2. The Algonquin Hotel


Courtesy of The Algonquin Hotel / Expedia.com
“Here’s an old-school New York hotel. You’re close to Times Square, but not bombarded by technology; it’s a step back in time, with heavily carpeted spaces, high ceilings and wooden fixtures. One thing I love is their house cat. That feline owns the hallways, owns the lobby, and you know, really owns the whole hotel. It makes you feel like you’re staying in somebody’s home. When I can’t get away from New York, but need to get away from reality, I come here to just hang out.”

3. Winter Village at Bryant Park


NEW YORK (Manhattan), USA: January 20, 2018: Bryant Park winter rink in the morning with midtown buildings in the background.
© Tommy Larey / Alamy Stock Photo
“Bryant Park is in the heart of the city, just east from Times Square, and in the winter they transform their lawn into a skating rink, and the surrounding space into a holiday market selling crafts made by native New Yorkers. To the side of the rink, there’s a bar called Fever-Tree Porch, which exists all year. I love the hot whiskey with ginger beer they do around the holidays. It’s crisp and effervescent, and gives you that warmth that you’re seeking when it’s cold out.”

4. Roberto's

Restaurant, Italian

“This was the first Michelin-rated restaurant in the Bronx. It’s proper southern Italian fare. The owner is a hunter, and in the winter they serve venison he shoots himself. There’s also a great wine selection. Many wines are from Italy and California, and the cellar has everything from $55 whites to $8,000 amarone. But I really like the espresso martinis, made using a double shot of fresh espresso. Stick to two at the most, unless you want to be running around New York for the rest of the night. And I literally mean running.”

5. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Boutique Hotel, Eco Hotel

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Courtesy of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge / Expedia.com

“This hotel between Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge gives you amazing views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. It’s close to the ferry, too. Hop on one – not even a hundred feet from your room – and you’ll be in downtown New York in less than five minutes. It’s ultra-slick, ultra-modern, with lots of greenery and wood. Just walking in is calming. It feels very ‘I work in a high-level tech job and this is where I should be staying.’’’

6. STK Steakhouse

Bar, Restaurant, Steakhouse

STK Steakhouse
© STK Steakhouse
“For festive drinks with a dance scene, the rooftop here is one of my favorites. The food is good – they’re known for their steak – but they’ve also got great cocktails and good DJs for when you’re feeling lively. Because it’s a rooftop, they can really transform the vibe for the holidays, and they go all out with the lighting and decorations. If they have it, try the frozen s’more: an ice-cream bar with charred marshmallow, thin graham crackers wafers and chocolate.”

7. Top Hops

Bar, Pub, Wine Bar, Pub Grub

Essex Market neon sign at night, in the Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York City
© Appalachianview / Depositphotos.com
“If you want to buy beer to take away, come to this shop in Essex Market. They have a great selection of New York state craft brews. Staff are informed and always have something new in stock, so you’ll get the latest local stuff as opposed to the generic supermarket beers. Look out for the Kings County Brewers Collective. They have really fun comic-style art on their labels, and all the beers are delicious – whether it’s a sour or an IPA, lager or stout.’

8. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden

Bar, Restaurant, Czech

This is one of NYC’s original beer gardens and a great meeting place for friends over the holidays – it nails the Christmas vibe. These days everybody creates Instagrammable moments, but Bohemian did it before Instagram was a thing. You’re talking full-scale Christmas trees, tons of festive lighting and Santa’s sleigh. There’s an indoor space and an outdoor one, and live music. When a big group of us are going out, it’s always a great starting point.”

9. The Jane

Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel, Hotel

The Jane
Courtesy of The Jane / Expedia.com

“This hotel is traditional in the sense that it’s in the West Village and it’s a landmark building. It’s been around since the early 1990s. The bellhops still wear classic uniforms, with red hats and gold buttons – and the ballroom feels like an old-school train or ship. But the biggest thing for me as a New Yorker is that they have very good parties. Not too big. But there are always cool people there. People with great style.”

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