As warm weather rolls in, Gothamites hit the great outdoors for some of the best things to do outside, including outdoor dining, spring art shows and enjoying cocktails with a view at the best rooftop bars in NYC. From buzzy hot spots at some of the best hotels in NYC to low-key first-date hideaways, raise a glass to the best rooftop bars in Gotham.
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Best rooftop bars in NYC
Gotham’s top-notch cocktail haunts come tucked in restaurant basements, stuffed behind unmarked storefronts and hidden in hot-dog shacks. Rarely do you find quality drinks in the DJ-soundtracked, pool-soaked terrain of rooftop bars—until now. Enter Tim and Nancy Cushman, the husband-and-wife team behind Boston’s high-flying Japanese spot O Ya, who bring smart tippling to the roof deck of Gramercy’s Park South Hotel.
The transportive vibe of Sleep No More, Punchdrunk’s interactive theater piece at the McKittrick Hotel, carries over to the venue’s rooftop bar. Named for a Scottish field where accused witches were hanged, Gallow Green has the feel of a garden party thrown at an abandoned farm. Fairy lights and tattered flags hang between verdant trellises; bartenders sling cocktails served by waitstaff dressed in ghostly white. The best seats in the house are inside an artfully ruined antique railcar, whose empty windows are hung with destroyed lace curtains.
The William Vale Hotel came out of the gate hot with culinary clout. But a venture across the river wasn’t the only first for the trio—at the hotel, they also debuted their first-ever rooftop bar, Westlight, 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.
Almost no view is a bad one if it overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge, but this watering hole on top of Dumbo’s 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge gives you a completely new perspective on the international icon. Enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine on top of the 10-story building while you’re basically eye level with those walking across the overpass. You can also catch sight of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline from the wood-and-stone patio, which features a shallow pool. It’s like taking a full Circle Line tour without having to set down your prosecco.
At first, it may feel awkward strolling through a quiet apartment building’s bright lobby at 9pm, bypassing the doormen and hustling into a packed elevator with three cranky, middle-aged European tourists. But once you reach the 26th floor of Beekman Tower, you’re instantly welcomed into a decadent barroom fashioned with soaring cathedral windows, jewel-tone blue walls and glass showcases filled with vintage oddities. Ophelia’s sultry old-world appeal instantly clicks when you learn that the bar—once named Top of the Tower—served oh-so-casual customers like Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa.
Gaze at the Manhattan skyline from across the East River at this 3,000-square-foot roof deck. After a recent renovation, the aerie features a retractable glass roof, so you can hang out when it's sunny or raining. Quaff European brews that skew German as you chow down on boozing-friendly eats such as bratwurst with sauerkraut and fries.
This rooftop bar, 17 stories above ground, offers a view of the East River in the warmer months, craft cocktails and light bites by April Bloomfield’s Salvation Taco. Sip the Salvation Margarita, a tequila, agave and lime juice concoction with a guajillo chili salt rim, while gazing at the vista.
This outdoor terrace bar on the Wythe Hotel’s sixth floor affords sweeping views of the East River and Manhattan, and it’s an ideal vantage point for watching summer sunsets while lingering over a pint of Radeberger or a quaff made from local small-batch spirits. Sure, the crowd comprises mostly globe-trotting cool kids from outside the five boroughs, but consider that another avenue to finding a guilt-free summer fling.
When you tire of Williamsburg’s dive bars, head up the stairs of this French bistro for a glass of vin on the wooden terrace that’s dotted with trees. The roof deck is now more conducive to drinkers: Brunch is served throughout the week, with a special terrace menu on Saturdays and Sundays.
Although a borderline-clubby atmosphere pervades the Dale Talde rooftop bar in Chinatown, its vibe leans suprisingly convivial. There are bouncers but they are approachable; there is a DJ, but he spins head-bobbing hip-hop instead of esoteric beats; there are watery drinks but they look delicious. Groups of twentysomething friends, coworkers and a few particularly amorous couples lounged on the scores of pastel couches, chatting and snapping photos of the sweeping views of lower Manhattan.