One Martini, Ice Chilly, With a Blanket and a Scarf


Over the past few winters, Del Pedro, an owner of Tooker Alley in Brooklyn, responded to snowfall by inviting a group of friends to drink martinis in the bar’s cold back yard. The gatherings, dubbed the Polar Bear Martini Club, were an ironic gesture of heartfelt determination thrown into the teeth in bad weather.

But what was once a fool has become an imperative. Given a winter when New York’s Covid rules only allow outdoor seating, Mr Pedro is taking the club public. For USD 75 per capita, including drinks and food, customers can enjoy the privilege of drinking in the bar’s backyard for a reserved time of up to three hours. At the end of the session, you will receive a signed, dated and numbered certificate as a true club member.

“Usually your martini never stays cold long enough,” said Mr Pedro. “It actually gets colder here the longer it sits.”

Sitting in the cold and drinking may sound like a way to freeze you – alcohol is known to lower your body temperature. But this season, bar owners in the northern US are looking for creative ways to make the experience more attractive and even more comfortable.

They lure trembling guests not only with shelters and heat lamps, but also with blankets, seat warmers and hats. with ice stock lanes and fondue pots; with steaming pots of mulled wine and do-it-yourself toddlers; and to prove with playful daring that you can endure the cold and even enjoy it.

At the Settle Down Tavern in Madison, Wisconsin, Brian Bartels ‘version of the polar bear club is called Tundra Club – a reference to the famous “frozen tundra” of the Green Bay Packers’ grate. “We wanted people to feel inspired and drawn into the tailgating mentality,” said Bartels, co-owner of the tavern. “If you go to Lambeau Field, you’ll be out two hours before the game.”

Club members (anyone who buys food and drink) can warm up around four open fire pits. You will receive an official Tundra Club patch and credit with every purchase. Those who have 10 visits can win prizes along with a free margarita on the first 80-degree day in the spring.

Caroline Marks, a paralegal, recently became Member No. 24. “The small outdoor seating area is fantastic. It’s fun, ”she said. “And in the situation we’re in right now, I’ll take it.”

When you step into one of the temporary outdoor “chalets” at Baita, a restaurant in Eataly, Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood, you’ll find a cloakroom with scarves, hats and blankets from Italian knitwear brand Falconeri that customers can buy when they’re feeling underclad .

The drinks menu has a $ 3 brodo shot of chicken broth, whiskey, and sherry. hot versions of classics like Negroni and Cosmopolitan; and the ability to make your own hot cocktail using a range of spirits, condiments, and side dishes.

At Hunky Dory. Every chair in Brooklyn, a bar and restaurant in Brooklyn reopening in February after a six-week winter break. It has a plastic seat warmer that hens use to hatch eggs, which heats up when they sit. Hand warmers sell for $ 5. You can buy a blanket for $ 30. And for $ 50, the bar will keep it in its own storage room to make sure the blanket is waiting for you every time you visit.

Après-ski habits have found an urban stand. Lavaux, a Swiss wine bar that opened in the West Village in October, offers four different fondues for groups of two to four people who like to eat in the pandemic. Additional fondue pots have been put together to hold full bottles of Vin Chaud, hot mulled wine. L’Oursin, a Seattle restaurant and wine bar, is also experimenting with outdoor fondue and piping alpine music onto the patio to complete the effect.

“The mood only seemed seasonally appropriate,” said Zac Overman, the beverage director at L’Oursin, “and it undoubtedly falls into the comfort food zone that apparently everyone craves these days.”

Marcus at Nohu, Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s rooftop bar at the Envue Hotel in Weehawken, New Jersey, has a curling rink that guests can use for free (or reserve for $ 30), complete with equipment and scorecards with instructions. The ice rink made its debut last winter, but it feels especially good this year. “It was successful,” said Matthes Metz, the managing director. “People like to play and have a hot drink.”

In Milwaukee, Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge has evolved from the usual holiday fare of creamy Tom and Jerry’s to mezcal and rum drinks served in a pop-up bar called Armonia. There are heated tents, but not everyone uses them.

“I was surprised how many people are sitting outside,” said owner John Dye. “I would almost say that people enjoy the adventure.”

The nature of some of these conveniences remains as fluid as everyday life is currently. Mr. Pedro is still fine-tuning the constitution of his polar bear martini club. It will likely take place in the afternoon on weekend days when the sun can mitigate the cold. However, if the day is too warm, he can move the arrival time to 4pm

“You don’t get the certificate just for showing,” he said. “You have to prove your skills!”