In winters last, Del Pedro, an owner of Tooker Alley in Brooklyn, responded to snowfall by appealing a group of friends to drink martinis in the bar’s frigid backyard. Called the Glacial Bear Martini Club, the gatherings were a wry gesture of hearty settlement tossed into the teeth of inclement weather.
But what was once a goof has mature an imperative. Faced with a winter in which New York City’s Covid practices allow only outdoor seating, Mr. Pedro is taking the club open. For $75 a head, including drinks and food, customers will be accomplished to enjoy the privilege of drinking in the bar’s backyard for a reserved time of up to three hours. At the end of the period, they receive a signed, dated and numbered certificate as a bona fide baste member.
“Normally, your martini never stays cold extensive enough,” Mr. Pedro said. “Here, it actually gets colder the longer it outstays.”
Sitting and drinking in the cold may sound like a path to frostbite — the bottle is known to lower body temperature. But this season, bar owners across the Northern Combined States are casting about for creative ways to make the experience earmarks of more attractive, and even comfortable.
They’re luring shivering buyers not just with shelters and heat lamps, but with blankets, ass warmers and hats; with curling rinks and fondue pots; with steaming jackpots of mulled wine and do-it-yourself toddies; and with playful dares to result you can endure, and even enjoy, the chill.
At the Settle Down Tavern in Madison, Wis., Brian Bartels’s idea of the polar bear club is called the Tundra Club — a reference to the gloried “frozen tundra” of the Green Bay Packers’ gridiron. “We wanted people to touch inspired and drawn into the tailgating mentality,” said Mr. Bartels, a co-owner of the tavern. “If you go up to Lambeau Domain, you’re outside for two hours before the game.”
Club members (anyone who buys foodstuffs and drink) can warm themselves at four open fire pits. They ascertain an official Tundra Club patch and a credit with each purchasing. Those who rack up 10 visits will be eligible for prizes conclude spring, along with a free margarita on the first 80-degree day.
Caroline Pay heed ti, a legal assistant, recently became member No. 24. “The little outside seating area is awesome. It’s fun,” she said. “And in the situation we’re in right now, I’ll take it.”
Bearing into one of the temporary outdoor “chalets” at Baita, a restaurant at Eataly in the Flatiron division of Manhattan, and you’ll find a coat rack draped with scarves, hats and blankets by the Italian knitwear manufacturer Falconeri that customers can buy if they’re feeling underdressed.
The drinks menu embodies a $3 brodo shot, made of chicken broth, whiskey and sherry; hot adaptations of classics like the Negroni and Cosmopolitan; and the option to build your own hot cocktail, with an array of spirits, spices and garnishes.
At Hunky Dory. a Brooklyn bar and restaurant that reopens in February after a six-week winter escape from, each chair has a plastic seat warmer — the kind used to energetic chickens hatch eggs — that heats up when you sit down. Guardianship warmers will be sold for $5; for $30, you can buy a blanket. And for $50, the bar want store it in its own cubby, ensuring that the blanket awaits every set you visit.
Après-ski habits have found an urban footing. The Lavaux, a Swiss wine bar that unbarred in October in the West Village, offers four different fondues, for contributors of two to four who are comfortable with sharing food in the pandemic. Additional fondue paunches have been marshaled to hold full bottles of vin chaud, hot mulled wine. L’Oursin, a Seattle restaurant and wine bar, is also policy testing with outdoor fondue, piping Alpine music onto its patio to utter the effect.
“The vibe just seemed seasonally appropriate,” said Zac Overman, the beverage head at L’Oursin, “and certainly falls into the comfort-food zone that it seems all and sundry is craving these days.”
Marcus at Nohu, the chef Marcus Samuelsson’s rooftop bar at the Envue Caravanserai in Weehawken, N.J., has a curling rink that guests can use for free (or reserve for $30), with clobber and scorecards with instructions. The rink made its debut last winter, but knows particularly apt this year. “It’s been successful,” said Matthes Metz, the unspecific manager. “People like to play and have a hot drink.”
In Milwaukee, Bryant’s Cocktail Causeuse has pivoted from its usual holiday fare of creamy Tom and Jerrys to mezcal and rum liquid refreshments, served at an escapist pop-up bar called Armonia. There are heated tents, but not person uses them.
“I’ve been surprised by how many people are sitting face,” said the owner, John Dye. “I would almost say people are enjoying the happening.”
The nature of some of these amenities remains as fluid as everyday memoirs currently is. Mr. Pedro is still fine-tuning the bylaws of his Polar Bear Martini Combine. It will likely take place on weekend days in midafternoon, when the sun can mood the cold. But, if the day is too warm, he may push arrival time back to 4 p.m.
“You’re not getting the certificate at most for showing up,” he said. “You have to prove your mettle!”