At this time of year, the winter chill and limited sunlight can make even the most optimistic of us feel gloomy — but luckily New Jersey is full of cozy, convivial bars and pubs that will banish the cold-weather blues!
Whether you’re a teetotaler or someone who enjoys the occasional cocktail, pint, or glass of whiskey, these Garden State hangouts are perfect places to sit with a good book by the fire, have a bite to eat, gather with friends, or strike up a conversation with someone new.
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This Bergen County favorite sets the standard for “cozy winter bar.” Built in the late 1700s and then converted to a speakeasy in the ’20s, The Barn has that warm, homey ambience that makes it perfect for a winter’s respite. Settle in and enjoy a casual bite and a libation.
The Barn, 359 Sicomac Ave., Wyckoff; 201 848-0108
A hip addition to the bar scene that still manages to exude a sit-down-and-stay-a-while atmosphere, Pharmacie Liquor Bar Restaurant opened in 2018 in The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair. The menu puts a modern spin on classic bar food, with a selection of small plates perfect for sharing. The cocktail menu really shines, and there is also a choice of beer and wine. Try the Chips N’ Dip with cured trout roe, creme fraiche and yolk jam, or the Mussels with tarragon cream and mezcal.
Pharmacie Liquor Bar, 398 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ, 973-968-5303
SM23 is on the sleeker end of cozy, with its plush leather banquettes and mood lighting. But it still fits the bill for a comfy spot to park yourself for a while, cocktail in hand. The place pumps it up on Friday and Saturday nights with live DJs, but any night is a good one to sample the Grilled Pineapple and Cracked Pepper Martini, (muddled grilled pineapple, peppercorn infused Belvedere, chamomile syrup, lemon juice, garnished with cracked peppercorn). Named in the Top 100 Bars & Nightclubs in Nation 2008 by Nightclub & Bar Magazine. Perfect for a date night.
SM23, 3 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, NJ, (973) 871-2323
Tabor Road Tavern (Morris Plains)
The Tabor Road Tavern, which calls itself a “seasonal American bistro”, is on on Route 10 West in historic Mt. Tabor. Giving off ski-lodge chic with its vaulted ceilings and double-sided fireplace, the tavern features a full menu (including gluten-free and vegetarian options) plus a wide variety of beers, wine and cocktails.
Brown Room at Congress Hall, 251 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ, (609) 884-8421
Just over the border in Pennsylvania, The historic Logan Inn is one of the oldest continually-operating inns in the country. The tavern was recently renovated, and is a beloved popular neighborhood meeting spot. Enjoy a bite to eat and live music; try a Logan Old-Fashioned (Bourbon, Luxardo Cherry, Orange, Bitters) or share a bowl of Seasonal Punch. Stop by to warm up by the fire during the Lambertville-New Hope Winter Festival — this year from January 19-27.
Logan Inn, 10 W Ferry St, New Hope, PA 215-862-2300
For such a small town, Lambertville has a wealth of cozy, historic bars, hotels and restaurants that make a winter visit so appealing. The Swan at Anton’s has to be one of the warmest, most comfortable bars around, with its large, crackling fireplace and walls just dripping history. The Boathouse is an tiny, charming bar tucked away in an alley, filled with historic nautical decor. Great cocktails plus amazing atmosphere. (And we can’t resist adding a third Lambertville spot, the bar at The Lambertville House Hotel, which is a terrific spot to while away an afternoon-into-evening, gaze at the fire while sipping your well-made cocktail.)
The Swan, 43 S Main St., Lambertville, New Jersey 609 397-1960
Boathouse, 8 1/2 Coryell St, Lambertville, NJ, 609 397-2244
Sergeantsville Inn Tavern, 601 Rosemont Ringoes Rd., Sergeantsville, NJ, 609.397.3700
St. James’s Gate, 167 Maplewood Ave., Maplewood NJ 973-378-2222Egan & Sons (Montclair)
Stop for dinner, stay the night, or just cozy up at the bar at this historic Inn located equidistant from Philadelphia (57 miles) and New York (56 miles). The Pittstown Inn has live music on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Dating from the 1760s, this inn was a stagecoach stop and its days as a watering hole and community center still persist.
Pittstown Inn, 350 Pittstown Rd, NJ 908 735-0125
Originally a stage coach house in the mid-1700s, today the Tavern embraces the traditions of fine dining with exceptional hospitality, a historic restaurant setting and a focus on modern American cuisine using local produce and products from purveyors throughout the tri-state area.
Black Horse Tavern, 1 West Main Street, Mendham, NJ (973) 543-7300