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Westlight
Photograph: The William Vale

The best rooftop bars in NYC

Raise a glass to spectacular views and elevated libations at this season's best rooftop bars.

By Bao Ong and Amber Sutherland-Namako
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In New York City, “underground” is good. Speakeasy-themed bars. Hidden streets. Secret gardens. The actual underground. But sometimes you want to soar above it all, sipping effervescent libations among the clouds like some kind of fancy bird with an expense account. You want to be uplifted. 

In the city that never stops sprawling, upward expansion has also reached great heights. Many incredible eating and drinking destinations are poised in the sky like treehouses with cover charges. Among these rooftop bars are old New York throwbacks, party destinations, seaside terraces and slick poolside operations practically fashioned for Instagram. They each offer booze, some kind of view and an invitation for you to get high. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in NYC

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The best of the city

Photograph: Ali Garber

Time Out Market New York

Restaurants DUMBO

We curated every last detail at the Time Out Market: the food, the cultural experiences, the drinks, the space—everything including the breathtaking view, which is the perfect backdrop for the “best in New York City” experience. Whether you decide on takeout or to dine outdoors, Time Out Market gives you a taste of why New York's culinary scene is the world renowned.

Best rooftop bars in NYC

Top of the Box
Top of the Box
Photo: Courtesy Top of the Box

1. Top of the Box at The Box House Hotel

Hotels Boutique hotels Greenpoint

This former private events space opened to the public last year. Now instead of hosting a whole darn wedding (and you know a wedding venue is bound to be beautiful), you can top the box on any old evening (from Thursday-Sunday) in a sprawling outdoor space suffused with love (or at least marriage). 

2. Bookmarks Rooftop Lounge at the Library Hotel

Bars Hotel bars Midtown

Another Midtown beauty peacefully perched above the frenetic city, Bookmarks’ aesthetic competes with the majestic New York Public Library a stone’s throw below. Part of the Library Hotel, the literary theme is strong with this one. Grab a book and find a nook, or break out the moleskine, follow the old adage “write drunk, edit sober,” and get to work on your own short story. 

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3. The Crown

Bars Cocktail bars Chinatown

If it took a little bit longer to get up to the 21st floor of Hotel 50 Bowery and if the crowd at the bar is a few more people deep than you’re used to after the past year and change, The Crown’s best-in-class view will remind you why you picked this bar, and this city, the moment it comes into focus. 

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Elsewhere Rooftop, New York
Elsewhere Rooftop, New York
Photograph: Courtesy Elsewhere/Luis Nieto Dickens

5. Elsewhere Rooftop

Music East Williamsburg

Whether you’re sweaty from dancing at Elsewhere’s club, or from double masking, you might want to cool off on its rooftop bar. The dancing continues upstairs with an outdoor stage where you can catch DJ sets; perfect for any warm-weather weekend night that has many acts.

Broken Shaker
Broken Shaker
Photograph: Gabi Porter

6. Broken Shaker

Bars Cocktail bars Kips Bay

This Broken Shaker has the same electrifying energy as the Miami original, and it’s still one of only a few truly cool places in Gramercy for rooftop drinks. In addition to its indoor bar, the 18th floor terrace area is one of our favorite places to sip tropical cocktails in the whole city. 

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Courtesy Harriet’s Rooftop & Lounge

7. Harriet's Rooftop & Lounge

Bars Brooklyn Heights

On the 10th floor of the 1 Hotel, in view of the Brooklyn Bridge, you'll find Harriet's Rooftop and Lounge. Enjoy a panoramic view of the bridge and Manhattan beyond as you enjoy a signature cocktail like the Harriet's margarita or a "zero waste" daiquiri. 

Dear Irving on Hudson
Dear Irving on Hudson
Photograph: Courtesy Noah Fecks

8. Dear Irving on Hudson

Bars Cocktail bars Hell's Kitchen

The 2019 follow-up to Dear Irving, this bi-level cocktail bar offers an “Ode to The Empire State” with spirits made in New York. Located in the Aliz Hotel in Times Square, Dear Irving on Hudson is surprisingly chic given its location. Velvet couches, brass finishes and rounded doorways seem straight out of the set design for a 1960’s James Bond movie. And after a couple of drinks, you might just get into your own espionage.

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9. Rooftop Reds at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Things to do Event spaces Downtown Brooklyn
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A post shared by Rooftop Reds (@rooftopreds)

This is a real-deal vineyard right in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Vines thrive in dozens of planters across the rooftop’s nearly 15,000-square feet, soaking in the sunshine before fulfilling their destiny as your wine. Beer and cider are also available, but red, white, orange and sparkling wines on tap and by the glass and carafe are the wise move here.

Courtesy citizenM

10. CloudM

Bars Lower East Side

Located on the 21st floor of the CitizenM Hotel on Bowery, CloudM offers some of the finest views of the Lower East Side, not to mention delicious cocktails. There is ample outdoor space to take advantage of the summer weather. 

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Ophelia
Ophelia
Photograph: Teddy Wolff

11. Ophelia

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown East

Rather than a spot for Saturday night revelry, Ophelia is the kind of quiet bar you’d go to read an Elena Ferrante book alone or meet up with someone you had to tell a secret to. But that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best rooftop bars in the city. Fashioned with soaring cathedral windows that look out onto the East River, jewel-toned blue walls and glass showcases filled with vintage oddities, this is one of the most elegant rooftop experiences New York City has to offer.

Night of Joy
Night of Joy
Time Out, Photograph: Jolie Ruben

12. Night of Joy

Bars Lounges Greenpoint

Night of Joy may not have the sprawling multi-level rooftop or magical views that made you want to move to New York, but the people are what make it one of the best rooftop experiences around. The intimate, quaint space is filled with friendly people looking to meet cute, and cramped quarters play to your advantage here.

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best of 2016
best of 2016
Photograph: Noah Fecks

14. Westlight

Bars Hotel bars Greenpoint

Westlight is a stylish glass box capping the neighborhood’s tallest skyscraper. Take the dedicated elevator 22 stories up to the industrial yet swank space—set with black-and-white tiled floors, bright globe lights and a beamed ceiling—to experience a hotel rooftop bar that has all the goods to be a standalone New York cocktail den, not just another hotel bar.

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15. A.R.T. SoHo (Arlo Rooftop)

4 out of 5 stars
Bars West Village

The “Every Night Should End With A Good Story” mural is definitely a little cheesy, but at A.R.T. SoHo it might just be true. If the views of the Hudson River, table fries, and piña negronis aren’t enough to end the night on a high note, the people you’ll meet will at least be good fodder for your next cocktail party convo.

16. The Secret Side at The Tillary Hotel

3 out of 5 stars
Bars Beer bars Downtown Brooklyn

Formerly known as The Distillery, The Secret Side resides in Downtown Brooklyn’s Tillary Hotel, near the Brooklyn courts, the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge and Barclays Center. With drinks, snacks and a beer garden atmosphere, you’re guaranteed to wind down the right way after a walk from Manhattan or a long day of jury duty. 

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17. Bungalow Bar

Bars Cocktail bars Rockaways

After an early surf in the Rockaways, take a breather at Bungalow Bar. Serving up brunch fare with cocktails like the espresso martini, here you can treat yourself to some beach day rest and relaxation. We suggest making reservations, because it does tend to get chaotic come warm-weather.

Our Wicked Lady
Our Wicked Lady
Photograph: Courtesy Our Wicked Lady

18. Our Wicked Lady

Nightlife Clubs East Williamsburg

You don’t go to Our Wicked Lady for fancy cocktails or even a stunning view. But even at a social distance it’s still fun as hell to hang out on its 1300 square foot rooftop, where you can add well or premium booze floaters to your spicy margaritas. 

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19. Mr. Purple

Bars Cocktail bars Lower East Side

Mr. Purple has occupied the 15th floor of the Hotel Indigo since 2015. It has a little bit of a pool area, a lot of square footage, and familiar cocktails, frozen drinks, beer and wine. 

AZUL exterior
AZUL exterior
Paul Wagtouicz

20. Azul at Hotel Hugo

3 out of 5 stars
Bars Cocktail bars West Village

Inspired by Old Havana, this Cuban cantina in the Hotel Hugo has 360 degree views of Lower Manhattan. The best part? You don't have to be an overnight guest to have an entree into the action.

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Photograph: Courtesy Christine Gatti/Dragonfly Image Partners

21. Castell Rooftop Lounge

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown West

Named for the Catalonian tradition of human stacking acrobatics, this suprisingly peaceful Times Square bar makes a nod to its moniker by opening each night with a tower of cava glasses and a toast to collaboration.

Select Fridays at Le Bain
Select Fridays at Le Bain
Photograph: Maxime Quoilin

22. Le Bain

Bars Lounges Meatpacking District

This is not the kind of place we suggest for casually rolling through, but on nights when it has an event, it’s one of the best rooftop experiences in town. Expect wrap-around windows that spotlight the New York City skyline like it’s an enormous museum exhibit alongside celebrity sightings and late-night dancing. Things get hot in the jacuzzi.

Want to drink at rooftop bars in other cities?

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