Warm weather is here (finally), which means it’s time to shed our layers, don short sleeves and soak up some vitamin D. If you’ve missed the sun as much as we have, you likely want to be as high up as you can, preferably with a cocktail in hand. Thankfully, warmer weather also means rooftop bar openings. Here are some of the roof bar openings across the country that we’re most excited about. Note: You’ll notice a northern focus. Don’t take it personally if your favorite Southern or West Coast spot didn’t make the list. This only includes seasonal bars that are reopening after a long winter.
When the weather gets warm, the bar on top of the roof of The McKittrick Hotel is transformed to look like a secret garden in a Scottish train station. It’s more Victorian England than Big Apple. Guests can choose to sip on seasonal, large format punches or potent cocktails filled with fresh fruit. On the weekends, there’s brunch in the garden while live music plays in the background.
Unobstructed views of Manhattan, umbrellas, rosé and tiki drinks—is there a more quintessential rooftop experience? Multiple frozen drink machines churn out the hits like Piña Coladas and Miami Vices. Extra strong Zombies and the beer-based Afternoon Delight (Tanqueray 10, Campari, lemon and Stone Tangerine Express IPA) will have you feeling just right. Also of note: all of the eats. James Beard Award-winning chef Tim Cushman created the menu and will have you ordering more small bites than you knew you could eat.
Kanpai means “cheers” in Japanese, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing over and over again if you hit the Kanpai Garden rooftop. It’s only on the second floor, but that’s just enough distance from the ground for you to find your zen in the concrete jungle. And if you think it’s not, drinks like the Frozen Kirin Ichiban (essentially a beer smoothie) and boozy popsicles with flavors like Negroni and Yuzu Margarita will change your mind. Ping pong, table games and a new menu featuring Japanese-inspired tacos round out the experience.
You can roam the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for days, but some of the best sights can be taken in on the rooftop. Ride the dedicated elevator to the fifth floor to sip on classic cocktails, beer and wine-based drinks like Sangria while looking out over the trees of Central Park. It’s only open during museum hours, but it’s well worth the trip and lines. Much of the art below will still be there in colder months, but the rooftop bar only stays open until October.
Some of the best views of Newport Harbor can be found on this rooftop. Built in 1909 as a private home for a member of the famed Vanderbilt family, the Grace Vanderbilt is now a boutique hotel. This year, there will be a crudo bar featuring fresh oysters and seafood to go along with your glass of bubbly.
Stella’s can get a little rowdy, but the views of the downtown skyline are hard to beat. Minneapolis doesn’t get a lot of warm days, so when they come, they must be taken advantage of immediately and thoroughly—preferably while four stories up on a rooftop. Red umbrellas cast shade on hot days, and the menu is filled with giant drinks, crab, oysters and sushi. It’s one of the best Uptown spots to kick back and waste the day away.
Some rooftops have Vegas party vibes, while others feel more like a place to kick back and relax. Fountainhead is the latter, especially if your idea of relaxation is sitting in the sunshine sipping something from Fountainhead’s extensive 150-plus whiskey list. Or, if beer is more your summer speed, choose from one of the 26 draft beers and countless bottled options.
Zed451 can get busy, and for good reason: It has plenty of views (a go-to requirement to make this list, if you haven’t noticed), and plenty of drinks. Make it out on a weekday for specials like all Milagro Tequila mixed drinks for $4.51 on Tuesdays, or Manhattans on Mondays for $4.51. Come hungry and order some of Zed451’s many meats like 9-hour smoked Wagyu brisket.
Drumbar could lean entirely on its 18th-floor location that looks out over Lake Michigan. Instead, it built a real cocktail bar with a highly praised drink list. You could go for a classic to match the classic cocktail feel, or get an original, like the Before The Fall, which is made with avocado leaf-infused tequila. Drumbar also has a spirits list filled with rare and limited whiskey and Cognac.
Chicago may be known as a hard city full of hard knocks, but you wouldn’t know that if you spent more time at Streeterville Social. The third-floor bar has a large terrace with grass, swing chairs and lake views. Large format games keep things light and social. Few places are better to sip on frozen drinks and pretend that summer will never end.
The Bok Bar is on the roof of what used to be a high school in a quiet Philadelphia neighborhood. What it lacks in cocktails, it makes up for in wine and beer options and panoramic views. On Sundays, babies and dogs are welcome. If you don’t get excited about a rooftop bar with dogs, there’s nothing that can excite you.
Top of the Yard is for baseball fans. It looks straight down into Nationals Park, so you can catch the game from up high while still getting all the baseball park food and drinks without having to actually buy a ticket to the game.
CityBar at the Hyatt Place Washington D.C. Opens April 16
Go ahead and leave the long winded tours of the city behind. You can see pretty much all of D.C. from CityBar, and best of all, you can do it with a drink in hand. Get there during happy hour for $10 custom cocktails like the No Ties to Russia Mule (made with American vodka), the Drain The Swamp (made with Chartreuse and pineapple juice) or the Negroni Flip.
There’s a bright and shiny pool at the bar and cabanas that’ll make you feel like you’re at a tropical resort instead of the nation’s capital. You’ll need a $30 day pass to get in if you’re not staying at the hotel, or you can order food instead and have the fee waived. Considering you’re going to be drinking as many cocktails as you can, you might as well go for the food. On weekends, there’s Pool Party Saturdays and live music.
Once you step foot on the DNV Rooftop, you’ll feel as far away from politics as you can get in D.C. A pool sits in the middle, and live music plays into the night. Sake, a hearty cocktail menu, and Japanese street food inspired by Tokyo nightlife completes the zen-like atmosphere.
54thirty at Le Méridien Denver Downtown Opens April 17
The Mile High City is pretty far up in the clouds. If that’s not high enough for you, though, 54thirty will be. It’s the highest open-air, seasonal rooftop bar. The drink menu is filled with local Denver beer, spins on classic cocktails and plenty of wine. Drinking well feels so much better when doing it at eye level with the mountains.
St. Louis isn’t known for its rooftop bars, but its shining light is the Rooftop Terrace located underneath the giant moon statue (“the world’s largest rotating man-made moon”) that caps the Moonrise Hotel. You can feel good about yourself while drinking, as solar panels power the entire rooftop, the next door bar, and two and a half rooms of the hotel.
The only thing better than an outdoor beer garden that serves fresher than fresh beer is one that does it on a roof. Motor City Brewing Works has a patio where you can catch all of the rays while drinking beers from the oldest operating brewery in Detroit. They whip up a pretty good brick oven pizza, too.