It’s warming up out there, and any New Yorker knows what that means: drinking on rooftops. New York has a finite amount of space, and since we lack the possibility of expanding sideways, we opt for building up and up. Rooftop bars are in abundance simply because when we want to be outside, we go up.
Whether it’s a super fancy hotel roof complete with heat lamps for chillier nights or your best friend from college’s raw roof complete with a keg, drinking outdoors is something we all look forward to in the deep dregs of winter. See our top picks below.
Monarch – 71 W 35th Street
Take a break from one of the most heavily trafficked areas of Manhattan with sky-bound cocktails at the Monarch. Perched atop the Marriott Courtyard Herald Square, this elegant roof deck lends itself to spectacular views that distract you from the manic streets below. With warmer weather approaching, the Monarch has shed its winter skin by removing its glass enclosures and opening up the luxurious seating to the sky. Additionally, Monarch has rolled out its new summer menu, complete with light fare and seasonal cocktails. Sip on a Mule Meets Mojito, which is exactly what it sounds like: Stoli vodka, ginger-infused brown sugar syrup, muddled mint and limes, and ginger beer while you wait to catch the 7:24 out of the city. If you’re en route to Penn Station, work nearby, or are just looking for a new rooftop to check out, add Monarch to your list.
Cantina – 605 W 48th Street
Newly re-opened and still open aired and glorious, Cantina may seem to be a far flung destination (it’s located on 48th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues), but a perfect draw for the midtown crowd looking for a range of excellent tequila cocktails and tiny tacos. Make sure to take pictures with the Hudson River behind you.
Attic Rooftop – 251 W 48th Street
If you’re walking too swiftly down 48th Street, you may miss it, but don’t be fooled: Attic Rooftop is exactly what you need to escape the midtown madness below. Upscale but unpretentious, it’s large enough to accommodate large groups (see aforementioned reference of building upwards) and is perfect for pre and post-theater cocktails and bites. Midtown is saturated with bars and restaurants, but what sets Attic apart is the exemplary service and thoughtful touches of hospitality throughout. The Midtown Tea is your perfect summer cocktail (Earl Grey infused vodka, ginger liquer, lemon juice and simple syrup) and the mushroom sliders are some of the most interesting and satisfying non-meat items I’ve ever tasted. Don’t be swayed by the throngs of crowds below and put this into your rooftop rotation.
Jimmy at The James – 15 Thompson Street
This uber chic Soho spot draws European society folk and Warby Parker-sporting hipsters alike. With one of New York’s most magnificent views, this definitely epitomizes New York luxury. The cocktail list has something for everybody, starting with the Spring Sorbet Collins for vodka lovers that features Crop Cucumber Vodka, strips of cucumber, St. Germain and a generous scoop of lemon sorbet. The Purple Basil Bramble, reminiscent of a snow cone, combines the juniper flavors of Tanqueray with crème de mure and blackberries, resulting in a delicious cup of frozen fruit. My favorite of the evening was the Marrakesh Express. Golden saffron rye and apricot liqueur mix with an absinthe rinse and spike saffron apricots for a lighter, exotic bent on a rich whiskey cocktail. JIMMY at the James Hotel is a must try for this rooftop-drinking season.
McCarren Hotel & Pool – 160 N 12th, Brooklyn
Summer in Williamsburg is welcomed by two different scenes: the ever revolving door of Smorgasburg, and the opening of the McCarren Pool at the McCarren Hotel and Rooftop. This classic Nouveau Williamsburg establishment perpetuates its “see and be seen” mentality while still keeping true to its chill vibes. The pool’s bright colors are a rewarding respite from the squat industrial buildings in northern Brooklyn. The rooftop’s yellow accents and sleek modern décor beckon to a warmer climate in a different place, primarily one with palm trees. Chic, and filled with people working tirelessly to look effortless, the McCarren hotel embodies everything that is the new Brooklyn aesthetic, and you can’t be mad because you live here, too. And it’s a damn good time.
PHD at Dream Downtown – 355 W 16th Street
An oldie but a goodie, PHD has maintained its relevance in the rooftop arena by keeping it simple: excellent service, a cocktail list that has something for everyone, and a spacious environment conducive to posting up and spending some time. Elegant enough for a special occasion but also welcoming enough for a casual afternoon drink, PHD at the Dream Downtown is an absolute dream. We particularly loved the Hot to Trot cocktail, a tequila based drink with agave, cucumber, and jalapeno.
Twisted Talk: Where do you plan on spending your time outside this summer? What’s your favorite rooftop bar in the city? Discuss below!