Best new NYC rooftops of 2018
At this tiki-themed fun house atop the Freehand Hotel in Gramercy Park, the vibe is less “exclusive private island” and more “family-friendly Polynesian vacation.” On any given night, you’re likely to encounter reggae and funk music wafting through the 18th-floor bar as crowds gather in the huge, outdoor wraparound space to take in panoramic views of midtown. Perhaps what best captures the venue’s playful spirit is the creative cocktail list. For example, the Poppyseed Bagel Fizz ($16) is made by soaking Black Seed bagels in water, sugar and yeast overnight, then combining that concoction with gin, aquavit, powdered cream cheese and bitter lemon soda. Let’s be honest: Any New Yorker would prefer a bagel over a cheeseburger in their personal paradise. Sorry, Jimmy Buffett.
The most enticing new rooftop bar isn’t really new at all. In fact, the Art Deco stunner, located on the 26th floor of the historic Beekman Tower, originally opened in 1928 and served as a space for recently graduated sorority sisters to receive gentleman callers and bask under the sunlight pouring through the solarium. (Nice work if you can get it.) In 1940, the space was rebranded as the restaurant Top of the Tower , which closed in 2013. But the venue has been resurrected once again, this time as the elegant Ophelia, a drinkery that tastefully pairs contemporary design with retro touches: Behind the 24-foot-long, pewter-cast bar lined with bright-red–velvet stools, three striking windows boast their original ’20s iron casings. Surrounded by postcards from the original Beekman Tower and matchboxes from the ’50s, you can order from a menu that has items like a lobster roll with Thai dipping sauce. In both obvious and subtle ways, the bar manages to combine the best of the city’s many eras.
Eataly Flatiron’s spacious rooftop bar and restaurant has been reimagined as a countryside eatery, called Serra by Birreria (serra means “greenhouse” in Italian). You can’t miss the theme: The place is decked out with copious hanging plants, overflowing greenery and, surrounding one table, a vine-covered greenhouse. It’s all very Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun. Along those lines, the restaurant and GrowNYC will host a small farmers’ market on the first Sunday of every month. Not only that, beverage director Alan Lam’s new cocktails are exactly what you’d want to sip all afternoon while lounging in a resplendent hillside garden. The Dal Giardino is a spicy concoction served in a copper glass that contains peperoncino-infused vodka, yellow-bell-pepper simple syrup, pineapple juice and lemon juice, topped with some fresh mint. (For something extra refreshing, take a bite of the mint before you sip.) The Negroni Popsicle, sure to be popular on Instagram, features said frozen pop, upside down, in a glass of sparkling wine. La dolce vita.
Amid the harried citizens that throng the streets between Penn Station and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the last thing anyone might expect to find is a calm, chic place designed to encourage midday naps. But that’s exactly where you’ll happen upon Nap York, a new wellness club. The ground-floor café is draped in plants and serves healthy meals and juices via a conveyor belt, while Nap York’s other three floors house large sleep pods ($20–$40 per hour), with fresh linens, noise-canceling headphones and a ceiling of twinkling stars. However, the essential level is the rooftop, an open-air beauty floored in turf and boasting a row of hammocks in which you can relax with a smoothie served in a hollowed-out pineapple. It’s the Tulum, Mexico, of Midtown West, complete with a hydroponic farm that provides the café below with its greenery.
When Elsewhere debuted last fall, the 24,000-square-foot, multiroom space quickly established itself as a performance venue with sharp curation and a chill, pretense-free atmosphere. (That’s not surprising: The team behind it ran Williamsburg’s dearly departed Glasslands.) Over Memorial Day weekend, the Bushwick hot spot got even cooler, thanks to the addition of an epic, 500-hipster-capacity rooftop. Catch way-up-there gigs every weekend—London dance queen Little Boots plays on July 13—as well as film screenings and art shows on Tuesday nights and sunset happy hours daily. With all that, where else would you rather be?
Anyone who’s been to Westlight, the 22nd-floor rooftop bar atop Williamsburg’s William Vale hotel, has probably walked away gob-smacked by the astonishing sights of the Manhattan skyline. But did you know there’s a delightful grassy space one floor above the bar? Now open to the public on a regular basis, the hotel’s turf-lined 23rd floor has a very appropriate name: Turf Club. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this summer, head up to the expansive lawn to sprawl out on a beanbag and gaze across the river. If you somehow tire of that, you can play a game of foosball or cornhole and then order some snacks off the Andrew Carmellini–helmed menu. (And you thought the High Line was the city’s most exciting elevated park.)