The 7 best rooftop bars in New York City
Whether it’s the beach, the greenery of the Catskills, or the quaint small towns to the north, for New Yorkers, summer in the city is all about escape. An extended getaway isn’t always in the cards, but spending time on a rooftop overlooking the skyline can be just as transportive – and if you’re visiting, you couldn’t ask for a better perspective. From sleek hotspots to hipster-friendly havens, here are seven of our favorite sky-high places to while away a summer’s day.
Best for: a drink and a bite in Instagram-worthy environs
With a riot of blossoms overhead and the Flatiron building looming in the distance, there aren’t many prettier places to spend an alfresco afternoon than Serra Fiorita. Eataly’s rooftop garden has a retractable roof, so you won’t have to run for cover during those unpredictable summer showers, and it stays open year-round, the decor rotating in step with the seasons.
Usually, when a setting is this idyllic, the focus is on the scenery, not the food or drink. But because of its connection to the sprawling Italian marketplace downstairs, the menu here is far from an afterthought. Choose from a selection of spritzes (the Viola is made with creme di violet and comes garnished with an edible flower), then order the black-truffle arancini, the prosciutto, aged 20 months and sliced paper-thin, and the bright, refreshing watermelon salad with cucumbers, mint and pickled onions. It's an ideal warm-weather lunch.
Best for: pretending you’re in a secret garden, not the center of the city
As the home of Sleep No More, Chelsea’s long-running experiential spin on Macbeth, the McKitrick Hotel invites guests to step squarely into fantasyland – and its rooftop bar is no exception. In the spring and summer months, the space transitions from a wintery lodge into Gallow Green, a playful take on a Scottish train station, complete with vintage railroad ties and tangles of overgrown greenery.
Creative cocktails include the Sleep No More, a shockingly purple concoction (the pea flower–infused vodka gives it that showstopping hue); the ‘39 Spritz, which adds passion fruit and sparkling rosé to the Aperol-based summer standard; and the Lies with Wolves, a spicy blend of ancho chile, banana, and dragonfruit spiked with gin and sherry. (There are also a couple of nonalcoholic options on offer.) Foodwise, the pizzas are highly cravable, especially the tarte flambée version; on the lighter side, the crudite could double as a centerpiece, and the cold, crisp veggies taste nearly as good as they look.
Best for: staging your social-media photoshoot
At the westernmost edge of Hell’s Kitchen, on the 16th floor of Kimpton’s Ink48 hotel, the slick Press Lounge offers an impressive backdrop for Instagram influencers and dabblers alike – with the dress code and drink prices to match. (Even for a rooftop bar, where you’re paying a premium for the views, this place is expensive; think: $21 cocktails and $12 bottles of Stella Artois.)
But between the shallow reflecting pool, the mod lounge furniture, and the unimpeded perspective on midtown Manhattan, it might be worth shelling out the cash to snap the perfect selfie. An added bonus? The constant breezes off the Hudson River mean you won’t need a wind machine to achieve that effortlessly tousled look.
Best for: epic views with cool-kid cred
Chinatown isn’t exactly known for its scenester vibe, but from its prime position atop the 21st floor of the Hotel 50 Bowery, The Crown is looking to change all that. Under the umbrella of its Royal Summer slate, the bar hosts everything from hip-hop parties and DJ sets to yoga and meditation classes – all held outside on two terraces, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center.
The everyday menu boasts an array of classic summertime bites, like burgers, kebabs, lobster rolls, and tacos, with beverages that complement the cuisine. Go for the Night Market, made with tequila, yuzu, pineapple and serrano pepper, or the Mint to Be Majestic, a mojito-like mix of rum, apple, mint and lime, and sit back and sip as you take in the stunning skyscapes.
Best for: city and water views with a hipster edge
To see Manhattan in the best possible light, especially at sunset, get thee to Brooklyn – and to Williamsburg, in particular, where the views come with a side of hipster style. On top of the Wythe Hotel, an Italian-inspired summertime bar called Lemon’s dishes out handcrafted cocktails and small plates. With massive windows, vintage orange wallpaper, rattan light fixtures and walnut banquettes, the interior is ready for its closeup, while the outdoor area features plantings and cozy tables.
It doesn’t need much more than the skyline to recommend it, but with music courtesy of local DJ faves Chances with Wolves and a menu from a team of hospitality all-stars, the place isn’t resting on its assets. Starring gin, lime and fresh strawberry, the Tiny Dancer spritzer is dangerously drinkable, while the boozy rosé popsicles cut through the heat with a buzz. Wash it all down with a round of oysters, sugar-snap peas, and truffle-inflected carne cruda (steak tartare), and you’ll be well prepared for the party to follow.
Pod 39 Hotel
Best for: a midday fiesta
Between the stodgy old-guard establishments and the frat-like dens catering to after-work crowds, drinking in Midtown can be a hit-or-miss experience. But just south of Grand Central Terminal, on top of Murray Hill’s Pod 39 hotel, there’s plenty of fun to be had, thanks to a generous happy hour from the mixologists at Empellón, a local mini-chain serving upscale Mexican fare.
Until 7:00 p.m., enjoy $6 beer, $7 wine and $9 margaritas, or treat yourself and spring for a frozen mezcal paloma, a frosty, smoky delight that goes down easy during the dog days of summer. Upstairs, the food options are limited to chips and guac, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and lobster rolls, so note that if you’re hoping to sample Empellón al Pastor’s much-lauded tacos, you’ll have to head down to the ground-floor restaurant.
Best for: an inexpensive afternoon beer
Perched on the 18th floor of the Flatiron district’s Freehand hotel, with a brick wraparound terrace and a wood-paneled interior, Broken Shaker is an offshoot of the Miami Beach hotspot of the same name. After opening outposts in Chicago and Los Angeles, the James Beard–nominated team finally brought its bar program to New York, and locals and visitors have been lining up ever since.
The multicultural menu ranges from Haitian griot (fried pork) and pikliz (pickled slaw) to arepas (cornmeal dough) and crudo to Yemenite malawach bread served with an assortment of spreads, and the cocktail list follows suit. Given the plaudits, it’s not shocking that the drinks are stellar – try the Island Time, a boozy blend of mezcal, rum, matcha and citrus, or the Umeboshi Caipirinha, with cachaça, umeboshi-preserved limes and a plum-wine reduction – but the big surprise here is the beer. At $6 a pop anytime, the cans of Tecate or California’s House Beer have got to be one of the city’s best rooftop bargains.