If you’re looking for some of the best bars in New York, there’s no better place to start than on a roof. At these lofty bars you’ll regularly encounter elevated price tags and throngs of birthday parties, but that’s OK – after all, you’re here for the unparalleled views, a bit of sunshine and at least one order of chips and guacamole. These are Manhattan’s best rooftop bars at which to enjoy some high-elevation drinking.
Enjoy a tipple at The Top of the Standard and Le Bain
For those looking for a bona fide party, there’s no better place to let loose than one of The Standard’s rooftop fêtes. During the day, The Top of the Standard serves tea and drinks, but once the sun sets, the illustrious bar turns into a cocktail party and supper lounge complete with live jazz and small plates. After 10pm, Le Bain (the eminent nightclub) opens, jammed with dance parties and featuring a plunge pool and a crêperie.
Perched on the 25th floor of a Midtown building, Elise Rooftop is a trip to the luxury and glamour of the Roaring ’20s. Inspired by New York City socialite and interior designer Elsie de Wolfe, the penthouse bar provides a space to soak up the skyline and live out your Gatsby fantasies. Cocktails are simple yet elegant, and can be paired with a roster of food items such as lamb sliders and lobster rolls.
Once you’ve ascended the 18 stories up to JIMMY, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Wall Street, Midtown and the Hudson River. Nurse grilled pineapple mojitos and mint sazeracs by the towering windows, or if the weather’s nice, head to the outdoor deck, one hand holding a cocktail, the other a plate of truffle-dusted fries.
Mingle with all of New York at the city’s largest rooftop bar. The party space spills out onto the building’s entire roof, studded with umbrellas and palm trees in the summer and intimate, heated igloos built for sipping hot fireball cider in the winter. The bar hosts a calendar-worthy list of events, from happy hours to dance parties and brunch buffets, but you can always just simply stop by for a gin cucumber mojito and a giant pretzel glazed with mustard.
With literary-inspired cocktails (think drinks dubbed ‘F Scotch Fitzgerald’ and ‘Catcher in the Rye’) and quiet areas perfect for reading and writing, Bookmarks is a refuge for writers and book lovers. Come alone with a book or a group of friends willing to share a cheese plate, then camp out at the outdoor seating area kept warm in the winter with heat lamps.
It should come as no surprise that the bar crowning the Metropolitan Museum of Art would flaunt an artistic fusion of cocktails and towering sculptures. This seasonal outdoor bar (open from mid-April through October) is five floors above Central Park; the bar offers a small sampling of spirits, cocktails, beer and wine, all consumed under a backdrop of the park’s verdant treetops.
From the sleek rooftop bar that crowns Hotel 50 Bowery on the 21st floor, you can see from Chinatown all the way up to the Empire State Building. You’ll find crowds strung along the outdoor roof deck sipping summer-ready drinks like the Free Spirit-z (prosecco, rhubarb, grapefruit essence, violet, cynar), light fare of watermelon salad and veggie tacos, and DJs pumping music over the cacophony of clinking cocktails in the indoor lounge.
Like the production of Sleep No More just a few stories below, Gallow Green, housed atop the McKittrick Hotel, is wonderfully mysterious. Here, the rooftop bar proves its love for its namesake greenery: the warmer months boast the thrill of a secret garden, peppered with plush plants and live music. As the temperature dips, the bar becomes more intimate as it morphs into a cozy lodge – fitted with snug bunk beds – flanked by crowds cooing over crackling fire pits, nursing mugs of mulled wine.
Share sangria with friends at Pod 39 Rooftop Lounge & Bar
Bar, Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Mexican, Street Food, American$$
The colorful details and brick architecture certainly distract from the perpetual crowds at this Latin American-inspired rooftop bar. Split pitchers of margaritas and sangria over small bites from Empellón al Pastor, ferried up from the ground floor restaurant. Keep in mind that this bar shuts down during the cold months.
Eataly’s tremendous beer garden is housed 14 stories above the Italian food market and is fitted with a retractable roof to delight in year-round. A long bar resides along one side, serving Italian wines and craft beers brewed in-house, but the rest of the bar is reserved for table service. La Birreria hosts a new theme as the seasons change – past themes have run the gamut from the Italian countryside to the snowcapped Alps – outfitted with a hefty menu studded with dishes such as melted raclette cheese and gnocchi swirled with gorgonzola cream. Pause in between bites and sips to catch a sighting of the Flatiron Building and the MetLife Tower sprouting out of Madison Square Park.
Not much can distract from the 360-degree river views from this 26th-floor bar, a former haunt of Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra. Towering windows line every portion of the bar, offset by velvet couches and flickering candles. Belly up to the bar for Ophelia’s Ascension (smoked Jamaican pepper-infused Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Sri Lanka palm sugar, aromatic bitters and cedar smoke), then plop down on a velvet stool with a plate of crisp spring rolls filled with lobster.
Helmed by the same people as the eponymous Miami bar, Broken Shaker can be found 18 floors above the Flatiron’s Freehand Hotel. This mostly indoor bar (there’s a postage stamp of outdoor space from where you can gaze at the Empire State Building) is strewn with lush plants and a funky mix of wiry rattan chairs and charmingly mismatched paraphernalia. Choose from a list of beachy cocktails – Jake the Snake is swirled with tequila, mezcal, papaya, ancho verde and Szechuan peppercorn – accompanied by plates like beef jerky and soft arepas overflowing with avocado, gooseberry hogado and queso fresco.
The entrance to the roof of Hotel Hugo seems to function as a portal to a Cuban paradise, one strewn with 1950s-era posters and Cuban sandwiches. Sip white sangria and slushy mojitos as you take in the panoramic views of downtown Manhattan and the far-flung towers of New Jersey. Arrive on a Sunday evening and you’ll be greeted by a live Cuban band, or come on a Monday night for the weekly movie night.