Eating + Drinking

Mapping NYC’s Best Seasonal and Rooftop Bars

The top alfresco watering holes in New York City.

Photo by Alan Silverman

Summer’s just around the corner—which means ’tis the season to sip and sup under the sun and stars. Here’s a roundup of the best rooftop and garden bars in the city—from an exclusive green space atop one of NYC’s most iconic luxury hotels to a lush, cocktail-centric sprawl in Chelsea.

Loopy Doopy at the Conrad
102 North End Avenue (between Vesey and Murray Streets), Tribeca
Take in magnificent views of the Hudson, Statue of Liberty, and New York Harbor from the Conrad Hotel’s rooftop bar, renowned for its Popsicles from People’s Pops. The frozen treats are made with local, sustainably sourced fruits and herbs and come dunked in glasses of Prosecco. Try the peach- or blackberry-flavored pops, which are not too sweet. The trendy space can quickly become crowded on weekends, so arrive extra early or be prepared to stand in line.

Photo courtesy of Conrad New York

Grand Banks
Pier 25 (between North Moore and West Streets), Hudson River Park
You don’t need a ticket to board this floating bar-restaurant, which occupies a historic wooden ship docked at Pier 25 by Hudson River Park. A nod to the buoyant oyster barges that lined Manhattan’s waterfront back in the day, the open-air schooner features two circular bars touting nautically inspired libations made with fresh-squeezed citrus juices and locally sourced ingredients. Order a Revolución (vodka, mint, lime, and Angostura bitters) and sink your teeth into a fancy Maine lobster roll after slurping down a dozen—or more—of the superfresh oysters. (Get the clean and crisp Kusshi from British Columbia if they’re available.) For those who are prone to motion sickness, beware—the boat rocks a good deal, so be sure to take a Dramamine before you head over.

Photo by Alexander Pincus

Maison Premiere
298 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
There’s almost always a wait at this Brooklyn locale, whose backyard—hands down one of the prettiest in town—transforms into a luxuriant escape once the warm weather rolls in. So if you’re looking to snag one of the coveted outdoor tables, it’s best to arrive right when the bar opens at 4 p.m., which is what I usually do. Let your waiter guide you through the dizzying array of happy-hour oysters (although I tend to pick the ones with the quirkiest names), and try one of the unique absinthe tipples (when in New Orleans by way of Williamsburg, I must!).

Photo courtesy of Maison Premiere

El Techo at Llama Inn
50 Withers Street, Williamsburg
This creative Peruvian joint features a seasonal rooftop terrace that’s more relaxed than the restaurant downstairs. Head over to this lively locale for a smattering of small plates created by former Eleven Madison Park chef Erik Ramirez—from modern takes on anticuchos (such as char siu-style pork belly with pickled chili and spicy mayo) to fresh, punchy bites like ceviche (made with corvina, dashi, and plantains). This casual hangout overlooks what I would call a romantic view of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and is filled with cozy patio furnishings surrounded by freely growing plants that imbue it with a touch of wilderness. The frozen pisco sours are a perfect remedy for white-hot days, but the cocktails are also worth a shot—particularly my personal favorite, the Llama del Rey. The odd combination of grilled pineapple and pink peppercorn, believe it or not, works well in the unique drink, made with BarSol pisco, red wine, chicha morada, Zacapa, and lime.

350 West 40th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), Midtown West
Soak in 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline at this chic, glass-encased midtown lounge, which is easier to get into than most nightlife spots in the city. Mirrored wall tiles, tie-dyed upholstered seating, and herringbone floors add to its funky feel, making it the perfect place to spend a clear Friday night with a large group of friends (I suggest arriving before dark to catch one of the best sunsets of your life). The bar caters to every imbiber, but try the signature tiki drink—which comes in a copper pineapple glass—in the name of summer.

Photo by Oleg March

Gallow Green
542 West 27th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues), Chelsea
Perched atop the McKittrick Hotel, the luxuriant space—covered in twisted vines and other vibrant flora—offers a bucolic reprieve from the concrete jungle’s hustle and bustle. Miniature railroad tracks link the two halves of the bar, which serves up colorful cocktails garnished with herbs grown on-site. Nibble on tuna crudo and hand-cut french fries while sipping a Golden Child (rum mixed with chai golden milk and flavored with citrus and turmeric is a winning blend, trust me)—or, if you’re a fan of the hotel’s famed interactive performances like I am, go for a Sleep No More. The cacao-infused mezcal melds well with coconut soda and pineapple bitters, creating a tropical party in your mouth.

The Heights at Arlo NoMad
11 East 31st Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues), Midtown East
One of the best day-drinking places in Manhattan (it opens at noon!), this ultra-stylish and modern rooftop bar from Top Chef alum Dale Talde boasts innovative cocktails named after parts of the city—from Jackson Heights (blueberry-lemon, lime, and ginger slush) to Far Rockaway (amaro, rye, and lime with Prosecco)—which work as cool antidotes against the scorching heat. Indulge in one of the rich rectangular pizza pies, made extra cheesy and crispy on the outside, as you admire the surrounding urbanscape.

Photo courtesy of The Heights at Arlo NoMad

Rooftop Reds
63 Flushing Avenue, Building 275, Downtown Brooklyn
Getting to this wine lover’s retreat is no easy feat—the last time I went, I had to enter the Brooklyn Navy Yard through a specific entrance, locate an unmarked metal door, and hike up five flights of stairs—but it’s well worth the bewildering trek. The one-of-a-kind haunt—noted as “New York City’s first commercially viable urban rooftop vineyard”—showcases wines made with grapes sourced from New York’s Finger Lakes, some of which are grown on-site. Bring a blanket to lay out on the faux grass and have a picnic, or book an early reservation if you’re hoping to snag one of the coveted red hammocks or swinging benches; I made the mistake of not securing a hammock the last time I went, so I happily ended up camping out at the cornhole courts with my glass of Cabernet Franc. And be sure to catch one of the fun foodie summer affairs—among them, Ribs & Rosé (because BBQ and wine are a perfect pairing in my book).

Photo by Jeff Waugh

Hayden Rooftop
127 West 28th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), Flatiron
You’d never believe you weren’t in Mykonos if the bustling streets of the Flatiron District weren’t 19 stories below your feet. Greek-style small plates and tapas like citrusy grilled octopus served alongside fave bean puree and halloumi topped with capers and mustard vinaigrette will surely make you say “Kali orexi!” (bon appetit in Greek).

The Crown at 50 Bowery
50 Bowery (between Canal and Bayard Streets), Chinatown
The WSWD team’s love for Dale Talde knows no bounds, so our hype for his rooftop bar with 360° views of lower Manhattan from the 21st floor is no surprise. This is actually his second rooftop opening this year—the first being The Heights at Nomad’s Arlo Hotel—but The Crown feels especially curated for the neighborhood it resides in. Cocktails are made with ingredients readily available in bustling Chinatown markets—lychee, tamarind, soju, and dragonfruit for starters—while typical bar food is given Talde’s signature twist (popcorn with a hint of nori, spicy kimchi-topped frankfurters).

The 1 Rooftop
60 Furman Street, Dumbo
Get a bird’s eye view of the Brooklyn Bridge (and Anish Kapoor’s Descension) with a handcrafted cocktail at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge’s rooftop lounge. Like the rest of the environmentally-focused property, this 4,000-square-foot bucolic escape was made with sustainable materials like vintage railroad ties and reclaimed wood from the Domino Sugar Factory. Talk about being one with urban nature.

Photo courtesy of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge