There are only a few months out of the year that East Coasters get to soak up the sun, and we are in the midst of that season right now.
While NYC has plenty of terraces, patios, and outstanding cocktail bars to visit, there is nothing like a rooftop bar with top-notch views where you can enjoy a frosty drink. Here are five of the hottest rooftop bars NYC has to offer that boast exceptional views and delicious cocktails to match.
Whether you want to hang out at The Williamsburg Hotel’s chic rooftop pool, which offers unrivaled views of the Manhattan skyline, or indulge in an elevated craft cocktail experience at the newly launched Water Tower—an elegant bar space inside of a renovated water tower—you are bound to have an exceptional day of drinking fun at this Brooklyn hotspot. The pool is open to the public between specific hours (see the hotel site for bookings), and guests can enjoy signature cocktails like the Coco Frosé, courtesy of Beverage Director Rael Petit.
“I try to include an artistic flair in my drinks, so they are not only balanced and delicious, but also interactive,” Petit says. “The Big Poppa is a really fun drink topped with a drawing of The Notorious B.I.G. that I created (I drew a stencil and spray the top of the drink with bitters). We’ll also open The Water Tower a bit earlier on the weekends (around 4 p.m.) so people can enjoy the light and take advantage of the sunset view. We have a really lively rooftop with both concepts this summer.”
A.R.T.—short for Arlo Roof Top—is a popular after-work summertime watering hole because of its prime location in the heart of downtown where Tribeca, SoHo, and the West Village meet. The spot is not only a hit because of its comfortable, chic indoor-outdoor rooftop space that seats 180 guests, but also for its killer happy hour with discounted seasonal cocktails. The bar program at A.R.T. SoHo has recently undergone a complete makeover, courtesy of Food and Beverage Director Gary Wallach, who has dedicated a significant amount of resources to ensure the staff can keep up with the volume.
“The bar features an array of signature cocktails, shared drinks (that come in three sizes), frozen drinks (including boozy pops), and a wine and beer list,” Wallach says. “The signature drinks are broken into two sections: our ‘Arlo Everywhere’ cocktails, which are brand favorites, along with the Avante Garde section that features cocktails inspired by famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.” With stunning views of the Hudson River and a DJ that plays tunes from Wednesday to Sunday, you’re in for a cocktail-filled party at this spot.
Ophelia is a new rooftop cocktail lounge located in the historic Beekman Tower in Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood. You can expect timeless, breathtaking views of the East River and Manhattan skyline and an ambiance that is intricately beautiful thanks to its historically rich architectural foundation. “Ophelia is truly a hidden gem in Midtown East,” says General Manager Tanya Mykhaylyuk. “Guests will experience incredible 360-degree views, innovative cocktails, delicious bites, and beautiful decor that celebrates the history of the building.”
The bar program is helmed by seasoned bartender Amir Babayoff, who has crafted a two-part menu featuring reimagined classic cocktails and signature drinks inspired by the natural elements and glory of the lounge during its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the standout cocktails, Purple Tuxedo, is a vibrant lavender color and made with gin, Brenninvie Aquavit, velvet falernum, Bianco Montanaro, absinthe, plum bitters, and edible gold flakes. Between the ambiance and the drinks, it’s a spot worth checking out.
Midtown cocktail bars have seen their rise to prominence in the last year, and The Lookup Rooftop is another to add to that list. Recently opened in May 2019, this indoor-outdoor rooftop bar atop the soon-to-be Kixby Hotel seats up to 110 people between both spaces, and it’s here to play with the other heavy-hitting cocktail bars in the city.
The beverage program is led by seasoned bar veteran Pamela Wiznitzer (formerly of Seamstress and The Dead Rabbit, among others) and showcases playful and original cocktails—such as a vibrant, mezcal-based drink that brings a balance of smoke and tropical flavors thanks to ginger and papaya. “The beverage program at The Lookup showcases fun and original cocktails, nonalcoholic drinks, wine (by the glass and bottle), and beer that’s comprised of brands and products that have been extensively researched and intentionally selected to be a part of the backbar,” Wiznitzer says.
Many city folk are familiar with the Wythe Hotel’s breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, but its newly launched rooftop bar concept is one that pairs elevated views with elevated cocktails. Jon Neidich and Golden Age Hospitality teamed up with beverage experts Jim Kearns (Happiest Hour, Slowly Shirley) and Christine Kang (Soho House) to create the ideal warm-weather paradise that’s inspired by coastal Italy and named after the fictional character Senora Lemon, the widow of an avid bartender who carried on the tradition of mixing cocktails and entertaining at home.
Kearns and Kang’s beverage program aims to replicate this relaxed, hospitable experience with a mix of refreshing low-ABV drink options, inspired by Italian aperitifs, as well as other delectable cocktails. The venue’s namesake citrus appears in a spiked lemonade—Senora Lemon’s favorite drink—that’s served in a vintage pitcher and garnished with lavender. The Capri, Son is another enticing drink option that’s made with tequila, grapefruit, calamansi (a Southeast-Asian citrus), and honey, and topped with sparkling wine (it can also be ordered in a large format for groups). If you want a coastal European vibe with expertly crafted cocktails, this spot is a no-brainer.