What to do when you're a New Yorker in search of some holiday fun and a drink — not necessarily in that order — but you've got a child or several to tote around? It rules out waiting on long lines and getting crammed in with other revelers at the pop-up Miracle bars that have become a new New York tradition. And visiting the tree at Rockefeller Center or equally wholesome activities like the Gingerbread Lane exhibit are fun, but they're booze-free unless you want to BYO in the form of a flask. And really, what kind of impression does that make for the kiddies?


That's where the Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise comes in. A 90 minute cruise around NYC (the action takes place belowdecks; no sitting outside in the wintry chill) it ticks off a lot of the boxes I deemed vital for full family enjoyment. It's educational! I got to show my daughter the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, Governor's Island and much more besides on our spin around the city. It's musical! A highly decent little jazz combo played some tunes for our entertainment and then led us in the singing of holiday carols which, much to my surprise, was actually pretty enjoyable. Perhaps that's because... it's boozy! I mean, you're not going to get Dead Rabbit-quality cocktails from this small maritime bar, but I sampled a fine batched Manhattan with maple barrel-aged rye, plus rich, velvety hot cocoa spiked with your choice of Caffé Amaro or good ol' Captain Morgan. A small selection of cocktails, wine and bubbles are available to take the parental edge off, while the kiddies can rock a Shirley Temple or a Coke. And there are cookies for everyone. Win-win.

Cocoa & Carols decamps from Pier 22 in Manhattan (right by Chelsea Piers) at 5:15 and 7:45 every day through December 30th, with additional cruises on weekends. Now, I'm not saying to plan a night of drinking around a 90-minute cruise. But does it beat most of the other boozeless Yuletide activities you could be doing with the fam? With a stick.