Is there anything better than drinking on a rooftop in NYC? Well, listening to Phil Collins literally anywhere, but that's it. So, like Spiderman, you should make your way from the East River to the Hudson by stopping only on rooftops. Although, unless you produce your own super-strong web-like compound in a laboratory, you might have to get a cab.
Stop #1: Crow's Nest
500 E 30th St; Murray Hill; 212.683.3333
Start off at the Crow's Nest. Sure, it's the roof of a boat, but whatever -- the undervalued gem sits atop the Water Club on the East River, and they've got seafood, booze, and excellent views.
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Stop #2: Upstairs
145 E 50th St; Midtown East; 212.702.1600
If you've got a friend in one of the many, many residential buildings with rooftop pools in the area, go there! If you don't have friends who live near Turtle Bay on purpose, make your way to the Upstairs at the Kimberly (or Pod 39, or Rare View) for a lobster roll and what they call the "manliest drink alive": the Rum Service, which somehow manages to be manly and include "zesty lime".
Stop #3: La Birreria
200 5th Ave; Flatiron; 212.937.8910
Keep making your way Southwest and swoop over to La Birreria, where there will likely be a crowd, but the beer is so good you won't care, and it's sample city down in Eataly below.
Stop #4: Gaonnuri
1250 Broadway; Korea Town; 212.971.9045
Next stop: K-Town, specifically the top of a 39-story skyscraper for penthouse Korean BBQ, beer, and soju. Score a spot where you can peep the Empire State building.
Stop #5: La Piscine
518 W 27th St; Chelsea; 212.216.0000
Pool party! La Piscine in the Hôtel Americano boasts a pool on its roof (it's heated to hot tub temps come Winter), plus cabanas to chill out on and a grill to refuel/overfuel.
Stop #6: Gallow Green
542 W 27th St; Chelsea; 212.564.1662
It's just a quick swing to the McKittrick Hotel, where you'll be getting your whimsy on at the oft-described "enchanting" Gallow Green, which'll hook you up with light fare like oysters to go down with their excellent 'tails including the Scozzese in the Garden.
Stop #7: Frying Pan
Pier 66a 26th St; Chelsea; 212.989.6363
So it's a boat. Who cares. You know how to do this: Corona bucket, repeat.
Heralding the looming summer with a new rooftop bar, this austere oasis sidles glass tables and white stools around an until-6p guests-only pool, where you can enjoy the open kitchen's jumbo prawn brochettes, or gaze down at the Highline whilst sampling mezcals, Greek beers, and 'tails like the cucumber, pineapple, agave, Champagne & vodka Skywalker, sure to lower your inhibitions about kissing your sister.
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.
Atop the Flatiron food emporium Eataly sits La Birreria, an 8000sqft Italian beer garden that pours glasses of amber ale in view of both the copper-capped Metropolitan Life Building and Empire State. It's an impressive setting for sipping cask ale brewed onsite, or any of the local and imported taps on offer (some ten drafts and twenty bottles). Communal tables under the big city sky are perfect for groups, as is the Piatto Misto platter made up of a beer- and apricot-braised pork shoulder and a host of sausages (both Italian cotechino and German bratwurst make cameos). Even in the dead of winter, this rooftop is in full swing as it transforms into an Italian Alps-inspired pop-up Biata. Yes, the roof gets covered, but stringed light, ski lodge aesthetics, and specials like muleld wine make up for it.
Located on the 39th floor of a towering K-Town skyscraper, Gaonnuri impresses with both killer views and hearty servings. From the elevator you’ll step into a bar area that overlooks Midtown, offering a less-than-familiar look at the Hudson and the Empire State Building. The service is attentive and food is prepared at the table. Try the garlic and soy-soaked short ribs and succulent duck breast, accompanied by standout banchan (basically free side dishes) like kimchi and fermented squid. With jaw-dropping views, premium pricing, and high quality menu items, Gaonnuri is a truly elevated Korean dining experience (sorry, we couldn’t resist).
Gallow Green, the rooftop bar atop Chelsea’s McKittrick Hotel, is a perpetual garden party, at least during the warmer months when its plush flora is in full bloom. During the winter, the campy space turns into a lodge with plushy chairs and a fireplace. No matter the season, the best time to go is for weekend brunch, where a $35 ticket will get you a three-course meal, a mimosa, and unlimited La Colombe coffee.
Located at Pier 66 in Chelsea, the Frying Pan is quite literally a bar on a docked boat. The boat is a historic 1929 lightship, and the outdoor bar juts far out into the pier thanks to a long barge. A center bar and grill serves up beer and bar bites like Pat LaFrieda sirloin burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and garlic fries. There's a dance floor at the end of the barge, which gets more and more crowded as the sun sets on happy hour.
Situated on the rooftop of The Water Club, The Crow's Nest is more or less an East Side version of Frying Pan with casual eats that include burgers and a raw bar, as well as killer 'tails to enjoy while taking in the NYC views. Instead of Spring time on the subway, you could be staying cool with the Club's river breezes.