We've already shown you the city's best bars, but what about its finest lounges? Is there even a difference? Of course there is: a lounge is like a bigger, dressier version of a bar, one that possesses ample booths and tables for people to... y’know, “lounge” in.
With that key differentiator in mind, here are 13 lounges to know and visit in NYC -- from panoramic rooftops to subterranean speakeasies.
Perched atop the Dream Downtown is the Penthouse at Dream Downtown (PH-D). In addition to sexy skyline views, this sprawling indoor/outdoor lounge features two separate bars, a DJ booth, and a menu of small bites. If you’re interested in actually lounging, you can do so in the Italian leather banquettes or outside on the terrace.
This eclectic and cozy spot has whitewashed brick walls and a steel bar rimmed in reclaimed wood, while the “living room” seating area sports a fireplace that puts this watering hole squarely in lounge territory. It’s also known for its innovative cocktail menu, which packs punch bowls as well as cocktails served in glass flasks and Boston Round bottles.
New to the LES scene, this rooftop lounge on the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo has an interior filled with reclaimed wood, concrete, metal, and free-hanging lights. The space has two terraces, the larger of which has its own swimming pool, bar, chaise lounges, and banquettes. To top it all off, the menu is stacked with locally sourced staples from Melt Bakery, Russ & Daughters, il laboratorio del gelato, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.
There’s a very good chance you’re not cool enough to hit up this club/lounge since it has an airtight guest list and everyone there is famous (or related to someone famous). That said, this penthouse rooftop lounge/disco on top of The Standard hotel has a rotating list of world-famous DJs, unreal views of NYC, a plunge pool, and a “grass”-covered rooftop. Again: there’s a very real chance you won’t get in unless you’re Jeremy Piven (or Jeremy Piven’s nephew, Wilfred).
If you enjoy the finer things in life -- like the smell of rich mahogany, leather-bound books, and a never-ending cascade of brandy -- you’ll love this sophisticated Tribeca lounge. With a menu of 100 (100!) signature and classic cocktails, wine, beer, and some super rare spirits, this sophisticated Tribeca haunt makes sure your liquid needs are well taken care of. There’s also a menu with things like Cognac-cured foie gras and chocolate cake with a molten center, all of which can be ordered well into the wee hours of the morning.
This subterranean speakeasy-style lounge is NYC cocktail royalty. The underground bar prides itself on showcasing some of the best mixology in the city (and the bartenders wear suspenders, so you know they’re legit). The upright piano lends itself to jazz trio performances, which occur Sundays through Thursdays.
A Japanese whiskey speakeasy tucked behind a boisterous East Village restaurant -- need we say more? Up a stairway and inside a Japanese restaurant, you’ll find this “secret” ethereal whiskey heaven that’ll drum up visions of Bill Murray and “Suntory Time.” The darkened, library-looking den has a strict code of conduct: play it cool, keep the volume down, and keep your shit together. If you can remember that, you’ll have access to a list of some of the best whiskey in the city.
A Jazz Age-era throwback, the Flatiron Lounge is located in a landmark building and pays homage to its history with Art Deco-style stained glass lighting and a wall covered cobalt-blue mirrored glass tiles. In addition to high-end whiskey flights, you can try one of the daily cocktail flights -- three mini cocktails with a common flavor -- and choose from menu of seasonally inspired cocktails.
One of the few rooftop lounges in NYC that is usable year-round, Upstairs sits 30 stories above the Kimberly Hotel. The 3,000sqft venue has three separate indoor/outdoor spaces, as well as a retractable glass ceiling and heated floors -- probably the swankiest upstairs you’ll ever see, unless your last name is Kardashian.
The original Clover Club was a select group of Philadelphia journalists who met once a month at the Bellevue Hotel to eat, drink, and talk, and that’s exactly the spirit that the Brooklyn version is looking to mimic. An old timey vibe with leather banquettes, wood paneling, and a fireplace certainly gives it that edge, but the creative and delicious cocktails will remind you that you’re very much in the 21st century (in a good way).
This sexy, Southeast Asian-influenced lounge focuses on gin -- in fact, its name comes from the 18th century English term for Gin. Along with specialty cocktails like the Four 75 and Mustachio Pistachio, you’ll be able to order up street snacks like duck steamed buns and summer rolls, inspired by small eateries in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Tucked inside the Gramercy Park Hotel, Rose Bar (and the attached Jade Bar) is a super-exclusive experience, complete with a Maarten Baas billiards table, a silk velvet banquette, and a limestone fireplace. It’s often picked as the home for Fashion Week afterparties, book launches, and intimate Rose Bar Sessions that bring in artists like Axl Rose, Dave Navarro, and Rufus Wainwright.
Chances are you haven’t been to Little Italy since you first moved here and subsequently realized Little Italy’s actually kind of terrible, but this speakeasy-style tribute to cocktails and NYC street art is a legit reason to make your way to that part of town. Mix your own cocktails from the list of available ingredients, or leave it in the hands of your trusty bartender while you lounge in one of the many black booths -- because, really, isn’t lounging what it’s all about?
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Everything about this rooftop club atop Chelsea’s Dream Hotel is polished: the black leather couches, the well-heeled clientele, and the $19 cocktails like the vodka-based 50 Shades of Bleu and the tequila Strawberry Fields. DJs from around the world drop beats until 4 AM every night (except Sunday, when it closes at midnight), but definitely plan ahead as reservations are strongly recommended.
Located in the Hotel Indigo on the Lower East Side, Mr. Purple is a rooftop bar with an interior that's both upscale and cozy, and a menu focused on new twists on classic bar food. Behind their bar you'll find regional craft brews, an extensive wine list, and unique cocktail offerings. There's a breathtaking view of the city from every seat in the bar, and in the warmer months, you can head out to the patio for a dip in the pool.
4. Le Bain 848 Washington St, New York, NY 10004 (Meatpacking)
On the 18th floor and rooftop of the Standard High Line is Le Bain, a sleek and ever-popular bar/nightclub. On the first floor of the bi-level space, you'll find Le Bain's most notable and distinguishing feature: a plunging indoor pool smack in the middle of the dance floor (hence the name, which translates to "the bath.") If you forget your swimsuit, not to worry -- there's a bathing-suit vending machine. Upstairs, you'll find an astro turf-covered rooftop with plenty of comfortable couch seating, a crêperie, and some of the best views of the city.
With ongoing “school spirit seminars,” the Brandy Library not only teaches you about craftsmanship in the liquor-making process, they will also pour you some mighty fine stiff drinks. With over 100 different cocktails on their menu and over 900 bottles in their liquor library, if you can't find something you like here, there's just no hope.
Stashed in a hard-to-locate, speakeasy-style basement where the bartenders wear suspenders and the standup piano encourages jazz trios, Little Branch is a Prohibition-style bar doing cocktails like Sidecars and Aviations. The space is dark and candlelit, and if you don't want to squint at the menu in a dark corner feel free to have the bartender whip up something customized for you.
A Japanese speakeasy lives next to the unassuming, second-floor restaurant Village Yokocho: walk up the stairs, turn left and through an unmarked door you'll find a small but comfortable room with a dark wood bar, regal wallpaper, and a large mural depicting the namesake angelic cherubs. Long lines betray Angel's Share's secret since the place has been catering to cocktail enthusiasts for decades, so arrive early -- and with a small group. The formally dressed bartenders craft impeccable, Japanese-tinged takes on classic American cocktails that make it worth the wait.
It's hard not to feel like one of New York City's elite when drinking at Upstairs, the classy penthouse bar located on the top of the Kimberly Hotel. Upstairs has a retractable glass ceiling and heated floors, all there to enhance the breathtaking views of the Chrysler Building. During the daytime, enjoy the same beautiful views while eating from the extensive brunch menu.
From Julie Reiner (Flatiron Lounge) and her protege, cocktail legend Ivy Mix, this tearoom-style spot charms with pressed tin ceilings, velvet-upholstered settees, and a 19th-century mahogany bar. In keeping with the casual-sophisticated vibe, dinner fare includes everything from mac & cheese and steak frites to steak tartare and caviar service, while the cocktail selection, which includes numerous variations on Old Fashioneds, cobblers, punches, cocktails, and five other categories, will have the most experienced of drinkers excited with options. For a new take on a real classic, start with the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, which combines rye, maraschino, absinthe, and bitters.
This Southeast Asian-inspired cocktail bar is focused on all things gin (it's named for the 18th century English term for gin), and you can enjoy yours on the rocks or in a specialty cocktail (order a punch bowl if you're visiting with a large group). The food menu is also worth pursuing, with bites found locally in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Southeast Asia.
Elegant, dimly lit, and adorned with work by Andy Warhol, The Rose Bar is a great spot for impressing a date. Pretend you’re Orson Welles or some other famous-ass old timer as you sip high-priced cocktails and lean on the ornate mantle. Reservations are recommended after 9pm.
Just for your imbibing needs, the experts at MP've have an urban oasis out back, with cafe-style seating and picnic-y booths surrounded by four installations (concert poster-/ advertisement-themed street art, etc...). Their indoors are serving up delicious 'tails and stellar company.