This Outdoor Food Hall Serves Up All Things Deliciously Asian
It’s not always easy to get into the rooftop bar at Tribeca’s James Hotel (bouncer, clipboard, all that), but it’s worth a try -- and often enough, you’ll be welcomed to the covered 18th floor rooftop to indulge in $17 grilled pineapple mojitos on a velvet sofa. Right in front of the Downtown skyline lights is a fireplace, which may just inspire you to cozy up with a mug of mezcal-spiked Mexican hot chocolate and drink away your winter woes.
Eataly’s rooftop beer garden transforms into an Italian ski chalet for the colder months, whisking you away to the alps just atop the Flatiron marketplace. Inside the covered rooftop, you can expect blankets and heat lamps, pine trees, rustic log-constructed furniture, and even a quaint cabin that can be booked for groups to enjoy a family-style lamb shank feast. Drink-wise, you can order anything from house-made ales and draft beer to beer cocktails and a trio of warm cocktails. If standing at a crowded bar after work isn’t your thing, reserve a table, where you can drink the night away in Alpine style and order plenty of pasta and polenta, of course.
Flushing’s only rooftop cocktail bar opened this past spring as a warm-weather hangout, but with the balcony doors closed, Leaf becomes a cozy rooftop lounge on a chilly winter night. Curl up on a couch in the appropriate foliage-decorated lounge or head straight to the bar for Chinese-inspired craft cocktails like the seasonal Smoke & Mirrors made with Szechuan pepper infused Creyente mezcal, Aperol, ginger, and pineapple, and Chinese food, including beef noodle soup, Taiwanese popcorn chicken, and pork buns. Visit from 5pm-8pm daily for $6 wine and cocktail specials and $3.50 Narragansetts.
Choosing to spend time near Herald Square may not strike you as a great idea, but this 30th floor bar elevates you out of the Midtown chaos to a 360-degree view of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Though the indoor rooftop stays open past midnight, plan to visit at sunset for the best westward facing views and #nofilter selfie opportunities. Drinks aren’t cheap, nor are the cocktails spectacular (stick to beer), but the location is perfect to break up your commute and warm up on a cluster of couches and lounges on a cold day.
Though a meal at the Rainbow Room may be out of your budget, the iconic venue’s neighboring cocktail bar will fill you with New York nostalgia without the massive price tag (or at least, a slightly less massive one). The views of Central Park, Midtown Manhattan, and Downtown are almost worth the price of drinks (a gin and tonic will definitely set you back $22), which you can enjoy indoors during the colder months (while still pressing your iPhone against the floor-to-ceiling windows for the perfect Instagram).
Williamsburgians pining for views of Manhattan should head up to The Ides, the narrow rooftop bar at the scene-y Wythe Hotel, which fetches a line through the hotel lobby most nights. Up top, you’ll find a glass-backed bar with bottles mimicking the skyline and plenty of Brooklyn wannabes sipping pricy cocktails. Gratuity is included in the $16-18 cocktails (like the appropriately named Brooklyn View with gin, grapefruit, and sparkling wine) and if you want to skip the line, you can reserve a group spot for eight or more people and smugly enjoy your pass to the front.
Exposed brick walls and industrial-style furniture allegedly paying homage to the Garment District’s history welcome you to the retractable glass-covered rooftop at the Refinery Hotel. Note the looming Empire State Building above the often-rowdy bar, as well as the cold-weather appropriate fireplace (should you be lucky enough to earn a spot near the flames). There are plenty of small bites but you’re really here for the drinks, which famously come in $55 caddies to serve four. Expect sweeter cocktails like the Derby (Grey Goose, watermelon cordial, lemon, pineapple) and the Fedora (44 North Sunnyside Nectarine, iced tea, lemonade), all of which are made to order rather than poured from some pre-mixed tank.
Just a short walk from the New York Public Library is a literary oasis where you can toast to a day of reading (or taking advantage of the NYPL’s free Wi-Fi) on a roof filled with quiet and bookish drinkers. Sunlight pours in during the day, making it easy enough for reading material to be your only date for drinks, and after rush hour and on winter weekends, you can expect the place to be relatively quiet, so you can discuss that riveting New Yorker feature with whomever you’re trying to impress.
Long Island City
To get some of the best city views, you’ll have to leave Manhattan and head to this Queens rooftop clubsteraunt, which offers sweeping views of the East side skyline and the 59th St Bridge. The 9,500sqft lounge doesn’t really attract the commuter crowd native to Midtown rooftops, but rather Queensians visiting from all over the borough (who aren’t always immune to the temptations of a sushi boat and bottle service).
Lower East Side
This 15th floor lounge plays to the Lower East Side going-out crowd with cocktails carbonated and bottled in-house, punches made with small-batch spirits, and Irving Roasters coffee to keep partiers awake throughout the night. When it’s not pool weather, views are best enjoyed on the indoor chaise lounges, banquettes, and high-top communal tables, where you can also order grilled cheese, chicken wings, or kale Caesar salad (naturally).
Located high up on the 21st floor of Williamsburg's newest luxury hotel, The William Vale, Westlight is home to some pretty spectacular city views, in addition to fancy cocktails from Head Bartender Anne Robinson (formerly of PDT) and equally fancy bar bites from Chef Andrew Carmellini. Stay warm inside on one of the upholstered loungers or brave the outdoors for its semi-ironic Top of the Rock-style standing binoculars.
Don’t expect a shortage of tourists at this indoor penthouse/partially heated outdoor roof deck that, come winter, gets adorned with artificial igloos that fit up to eight people. Igloos can’t be reserved, so you may have to wait for your chance to squeeze in and sip your mulled cider, but, hey, you didn’t move to New York for all the extra personal space, did you?