Spring has finally hit the city! The snow has melted, the temperatures are rising, and it’s the best time of the year to be outside. For a lot of people, that might mean spending a day in Central Park or heading to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for some culture, but for me it means something a little more…boozy. I don’t know about you guys, but my favorite way to usher in the warm weather is to slip into a tank top, lug a kiddie pool onto my building’s roof, and re-read Flowers in the Attic for the hundredth time while sipping $5 sparkling wine—but that’s an acquired taste. For those of you with the pride I clearly lack, your best bet is to find an outdoor bar or rooftop patio and plant yourself there until the humidity becomes unbearable (usually mid-June, to be honest.) But where to go?
Luckily, I am a rooftop maven from way back, and I’ve put together my definitive list of the best places to catch a breeze and grab a drink across Manhattan and Brooklyn. So slip on your best sandals, slap on some SPF, and get ready for some quality day drinking.
The Gallow Green
542 West 27th Street
Located atop the McKittrick Hotel, famous for experimental interactive theater production Sleep No More, the rooftop bar is one of my favorite places to chill. If you haven’t seen Sleep No More, please go away and come back once you’ve experienced it first-hand. But even if live theater isn’t your thing (who even ARE you?) the talented team of the McKittrick has crafted a beautiful oasis on their roof. From the lush gardens studded with twinkle lights to the expertly crafted punchbowls, The Gallow Green is a flawless chill experience. Their brunch menu is small and standard, but absolutely delicious. And since it’s a decent walk from a subway, this place doesn’t get too packed!
230 5th Ave
Okay, I know it can be a little corny, but the whole point of this bar are the spectacular views. It’s probably the best place to humble yourself at the NYC skyline, especially at sunset. It can be a little touristy, and the bar lines can get a little long, but it’s worth it. The service has always been on point, they have abundant drink specials, and you can usually get a table pretty quickly. The vibe is casual, with reasonably priced snacks and an awesome weekend brunch for under $30. One of my favorite features of 230 FIFTH is the luxurious red robes they offer you in case the night gets chilly!
Social Bar and Lounge
795 8th Ave
Where else can you get stunning views of the city, $6 Happy Hour specials, $12 lunches, and a lively theater crowd amping up a party vibe? Nowhere besides Social Bar and Lounge. Their staff is fast, friendly, and very efficient but note that this place can get loud, so be understanding if you have to repeat yourself a couple times. The rooftop is lit with dozens of lanterns, and since they don’t have music outdoors it’s a much quieter place to talk. Be sure to arrive early for a drink before a show, since it does fill up as the evening goes on.
168 Delancey Street
Lower East Side
Lush green palms, ferns, and other tropical plants give this space an urban jungle vibe. The red and rattan furniture is comfortable—I’ve spent many an afternoon sunk into a couch hiding in some fronds. It somehow feels cozy and spacious, even on crowded nights, and it’s never hard to find a place to sit. The rooftop is covered making it a perfect place to enjoy a summer storm, and since the downstairs bar is where the club is at, you get a nice relaxing vibe. The drink specials are average, but man—those bartenders all know what they’re doing. Be adventurous and ask for a custom cocktail, you won’t regret it.
The Rock Shop
249 4th Ave
This place is a great venue for shows, trivia, pub quiz, karaoke, and some sports things I do not understand—but the real gem of The Rock Shop is the roof. You don’t have the most incredible view, but you do have a super chill place to eat some fried food and feel the wind on your drunk face. The roof deck is large with plenty of seating, so even though it’s only two stories high you won’t feel like you’re missing out once you see their insanely cheap drinks. During the summer, they bust out a grill and cook up some awesome burgers to go with their delicious fries. If you’re sick of dressing fancy and paying $10 for a beer, head out to Brooklyn. You will not regret it.