One of Gothamites’ favorite things to do in summer in NYC is to take advantage of the city’s top-notch outdoor bars. New York has hosts of picturesque gardens, patios and terraces serving up stellar summer drinks for your refreshment. We’ve already told you where to find the best rooftop bars–you know, the non-douchey kind–and floating boat bars, but here are our Time Out-approved picks of the finest outdoor drinking spots for those that prefer to keep their feet on solid ground.
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Best outdoor bars in NYC
An outdoor oyster bar outfitted in dark wood takes center stage in the lush 1,000-square-foot garden at this NOLA-inspired salon. To keep in line with the French Quarter charm, sip cerebral cocktails like The Carondelet (gin, orange-flower water, honey) and the Old King Cole Martini (Old Raj gin, Dolin Dry, orange bitters and Castelvetrano olives) under the vine-tangled canopy.
Peter Poulakakos is plenty dedicated to the Financial District—the prolific restaurateur has a whopping 10 projects below Chambers Street including James Joyce homage Ulysses and the Irish gang-themed Dead Rabbit. The setting for his latest, with partners Danny McDonald and Michael Jewell, is a pier that's been closed to the public for 127 years, a retrofitted re-creation of the Gilded Age divided into three levels and anchored by a soaring clock tower. Decked out in nautical relics like pipes from steamship engine rooms, the first floor includes a belly-up bar slinging on-tap dark-and-stormys and Pimm's cups, a raw bar shucking oysters and steaming clams, and an expansive beer hall pouring old-world European suds. Upstairs, the second-floor dining room is split into four, named for a maritime police boat, a firefighter patrol boat, the nearby Lady Liberty and W.R. Grace, the mayor who signed off on the pier. The top tier, an event space reserved for community gatherings (think poetry readings and music performances), overlooks the harbor.
Garage-sale-meets-fraternity-house décor invites an ironic, scruffy crowd to this humble hangout, but the beer-garden grub delivers: wolf down bockwurst hot off the half-barrel grill and gulp a Dentengem’s Witbier. On chilly nights, a glowing potbellied stove takes the edge off.
True to her name, Ivy Mix stirs an incredible cocktail, especially in the company of Julie Reiner. The drink pros made quite the formidable pair at the Clover Club, Reiner’s Cobble Hill cocktail institution where Mix served as head bartender, but they’re testing if lightning strikes twice at this Pan-Latin follow-up. (Spoiler: It does.) In a mystic-cool space fitting for such bartender worship—rigged with Indio candles, cathedral-pew booths and a golden tin ceiling imprinted with crosses—Mix takes the reins on the cocktail menu and proves she’s worthy of the title leyenda (Spanish for legend).
Endless summer afternoons have been spent at this Astoria beer garden–the oldest one in Gotham–swinging back mugs of cold Spaten Oktoberfest, Blue Moon and Pilsner Urquell and listening to live music. The kitchen dishes out Czech specialties like house-made potato pasta, roasted duck with red cabbage and fried Muenster with fries.
Open seasonally (beginning in the spring), solar-powered Habana Outpost gives your al fresco an eco edge: Its initiatives include rainwater flush toilets and the use of sugarcane and corn utensils. While the food—well-executed rice and beans, grilled Mexican quesadillas—and frozen drinks (margarita, mojito) are reasons enough for a visit, on weekends little ones can also partake in supervised, eco-friendly projects.
This two-tier riverfront restaurant welcomes young singles and parents with children in tow to happily converge under stone archways and twinkle lights. Order from the grill portion of its expansive American menu and toast the sunset on clear evenings, but call ahead when skies seem stormy—the café closes for rain.
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Just across the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City, you’ll find Penthouse 808 at the Ravel Hotel. This indoor-outdoor restaurant and lounge offers sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline. If you’re looking for cocktails, the bar has you covered. Order signature drinks like the Far Eastside with gin, cucumber, lime and black peppercorn or the Rising Tide with dark rum, spiced rum, caramelized pineapple-raspberry syrup and tiki syrup for one person or a crowd ($14 cocktail, $68 pitcher). Coming through with a crew? Penthouse 808 also offers two drinks—a rum punch with coconut milk and banana-blackberry syrup and fruity vodka concoction—in one- or two-gallon tiki heads ($75 for one gallon, $120 for two gallons). The restaurant serves Asian fusion cuisine like salmon tartare tacos ($17), a crispy duck, watermelon and cashew salad ($15), Hawaiian skirt steak ($29) and a sticky glazed pork belly rib ($29).
Venue says: “Enjoy a Grand Summer Brunch with breathtaking views on our Rooftop this weekend! Tasting menu features 10 course for $38.08 every Sat & Sun.”