17 Best Rooftop Bars in New York City

By CAREY JONES and PAUL RUBIO for cntraveler on May 21, 2018

Whether you're looking for beer gardens and mini golf, or bottle service and a scene.

A city that excels in making the most of what it's got, New York has a roster of rooftop bars that's second to none, capitalizing on Manhattan's stunning skyline and reliably compelling views. A decade ago, most rooftop bars fell into predictable camps: stuffy hotel bars, or rowdy after-work spots. But today, there's a delightful range, with bars offering mini-golf or spacious beer gardens, as well as first-class cocktails. Here are our picks for the best rooftop bars in NYC.


Courtesy Ophelia Lounge NYC

Courtesy Ophelia Lounge NYC

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Ophelia

We love the 1920s aesthetic at this bar atop the landmark Beekman Tower, like those arched glass panels restored from the original c.1928 rooftop and vintage artifacts on display (think: flapper hats and century-old tarot cards). Cocktails are creative without being pretentious, the price point is reasonable, seating is ample, service is top-notch, and advanced reservations are available online. And then, of course, there are those 360-degree views of the East River and Manhattan skyline.

Courtesy Mr. Purple

Courtesy Mr. Purple

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Mr. Purple

There isn't a rooftop bar that inspires FOMO quite like this 15th-floor stunner above the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York. Join the City’s ‘in’ crowd as they boomerang cocktail clinks and pose for selfies in an effortlessly chic space enveloped by 360-degree views of Manhattan. Try the Mr. Purple (a punch of Casamigos tequila, cranberry liqueur, allspice dram, apple, and lemon)chased with buttermilk fried chicken sliders and fish tacos.

Courtesy The Crown Rooftop Bar and Lounge

Courtesy The Crown Rooftop Bar and Lounge

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The Crown

$$$

Turns out you don’t have to hit Brooklyn to get jaw-dropping vistas of all Manhattan. Just head south to Chinatown—specifically, to the 21st floor of Hotel 50 Bowery—where you'll find this intimate lounge with two rooftop patios that showcase the Big Apple in all its glory. The drinks are worth the trip, too: There are tasty, contemporary tipples crafted with inspiration from across Asia, made to pair with the fresh and funky dishes downstairs at Dale Talde's Rice & Gold, like the Toki Highball or the gin-Pimms-lemongrass East India, though the short list hits every major style and spirit.

Courtesy The Peninsula New York

Courtesy The Peninsula New York

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Salon de Ning at The Peninsula

$$$

This spot atop the Peninsula has a few things going for it—we can all appreciate a good 1930s Shanghai decor scheme—though its place in the clouds is foremost among them: at 23 floors up, you feel both above the city and apart from it. And, despite the old-school sentiment, the bar menu ticks off every modern cocktail trend, from spicy tequila to Japanese whisky highballs, though consumption isn't limited to liquid form: We're also looking forward to wolfing down their spirit-spiked ice creams, made exclusively for the hotel by Brooklyn-based purveyor Davey’s Ice Cream. Our recommendation? Try a half-pint of the gin- or mezcal-infused stuff, or stick to the rooftop’s best-selling cocktail, the lychee-topped Ning Sling, to beat the heat (or, at least, to forget about how hot it is).

Noah Fecks/The McKittrick Hotel

Noah Fecks/The McKittrick Hotel

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Gallow Green

$$

Transportive. Fantastical. No, we're not talking about the latest Star Wars movie (though it was pretty great)—we're just describing Gallow Green, at the McKittrick Hotel. The 'hotel' (which isn't a hotel at all, but rather, home to the immersive theatrical performance Sleep No More) carries its slightly surreal character to this rooftop bar, styled to look artfully abandoned—there's a broken-down Scottish train car, surrounded by lush, unkempt greenery. Drinks are modern and well made—the large-format punches are definite crowd pleasers—and there's a buffet-style brunch with live music on weekends, plus an excellent daily dinner menu made up of small seasonal plates (think, a highly photogenic Crudité Bowl).

James Baigrie

James Baigrie

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1 Rooftop

$$$

Brooklyn Bridge Park and Promenade have the most iconic, cinematic Manhattan views in existence, but the view’s even better from up in the air. It's all very industrial-chic “Brooklyn.” It's ideal for a summer evening (the rooftop is only open seasonally) when you don’t want to brown-bag your rosé in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Our advice? Book a table for a chill night with friends, or let your night pick up along with the crowd.

Warren Jagger

Warren Jagger

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Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge

$$

Way beyond a rooftop bar, Magic Hour is a carnivalesque adult playground with mini-golf, a topiary garden, rotating carousel-style seating, and (unbelievably) more. It's a slightly ridiculous, self-indulgent good time, on a night when you’re up for mini-golf and a healthy amount of imbibing. Drinks are approachable in a modern-mixology way, covering all the bases: “Allspice No Drama” with vodka, strawberry shrub, and allspice dram; “Float My Boat” with caramelized pineapple, tequila, and jalapeño.

Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams

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The Ides at Wythe Hotel

$$$

The inescapable truth: Manhattan views are better from Brooklyn. Whether from the stately indoor lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows or comfortable outdoor terrace, the skyline is dramatic and a major draw, even if the crowd is too Brooklyn to seem impressed by it. They serve smart classics and interpretations thereof: the rye-vermouth-maraschino Brooklyn, gin-lemon-violette Aviation, a “Sixth Floor Sling” with allspice, apricot, and lime sherbet. The Old World wine list is tight and just a little outside the box: sparkling Vouvray rather than Prosecco, Gamay rather than Pinot Noir.

Courtesy Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room

Courtesy Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room

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Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room

$$$

It's a comfortable, conventional lounge and outdoor terrace with a jaw-dropper of a view on the 65th floor of 30 Rock. Classy space, with well-made cocktails, but everything is eclipsed by the setting. What you're really paying for are the views—all of Manhattan is laid out before you—and everyone in the room is happy to do it. It’s a place for a Manhattan—or the lesser-known Brooklyn (Ironweed Straight Malt Whiskey, Carpano Bianco, Luxardo Maraschino, Amaro Lucano) or Bronx (Greenhook Gin, Carpano Antica, Carpano Bianco, Orange Juice, Lavender Bitters). “Signature” cocktails aren’t direct from the history books, but they're straightforward and feel like classics.

Courtesy Refinery

Courtesy Refinery

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Refinery Rooftop

$$

Modern and romantic, like a Pinterest-inspired wedding, the Refinery Rooftop's twinkling braided lights, exposed brick, and warm wood finishes make us feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. (And, not for nothing, but you've got the Empire State Building looming large overhead). There’s a retractable glass roof to temper even the coldest or rainiest days, making this bar all-weather and all-season—though their mango-basil margarita and spicy roasted cauliflower sandwich go down best with a little sunshine.

Noah Fecks

Noah Fecks

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Westlight

$$

It’s the view that hits you first. Hard to imagine a better vantage point of the Manhattan skyline than from just across the river on the 22nd floor. Look around and you’ll find a slick, sophisticated restaurant and lounge, but it’s all a backdrop to the New York vista. Drinks and service are excellent, and up to the standards of Andrew Carmellini’s other ventures, like The Dutch and Locanda Verde—and more sophisticated than just about any rooftop bar out there. It's smart without being overwrought, like the “In Bloom” with beet, bitter Cynar, vodka, lemon, mint, and cava.

Ron Capistrano

Ron Capistrano

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La Birreria

$$

Part German-style biergarten, part classy Flatiron restaurant, part an extension of Eataly’s ambitious excess. This spacious, airy rooftop only increases the appeal of the store's many attractions. The beer is essential. There are cask ales brewed onsite, in collaboration with two beer-world heavyweights (Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Teo Musso of Baladin). Cocktails, bottled beers, and wine all hold their own, but it’d be a shame to visit without trying the brews “alla spina” (on tap).

Nikolas Koenig

Nikolas Koenig

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The Roof

$$$

High design, high fashion—this slick, indoor-outdoor bar is peak Ian Schrager. If you’re willing to brave the velvet rope drama—and there’s lots of it—you’ll be rewarded with access to a space that feels suspended in the sky, particularly when you're sitting on one of the terrace’s lounge banquettes. Bottled Manhattans and Negronis are some of the smart ways they've expedited service at this busy bar, though in warmer temps it’s hard to resist the vodka-raspberry “Frosé St. Tropez.” Reasonably priced wines by the bottle are another way to go.

Neil Aline

Neil Aline

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Le Bain

$$$

Once you get past the doorman, the hardest part is over. Summer afternoons are best, if you can score a perch on the Astroturf “grass” deck and relax in a woven papasan, alone or with friends. In colder months, you’re here for the DJs. Cocktails are available, smartly, by the pitcher—and they are pitcher drinks: vodka-cucumber-lime, tequila-watermelon-jalapeño. Arrive early on a summer afternoon for one of the sexier perches in town, and get a great buzz from the strawberry drinks by the pitcher.

Courtesy The Knickerbocker

Courtesy The Knickerbocker

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St. Cloud

$$$

Far and away the classiest cocktails in Times Square, and one of the sexier outdoor venues in Midtown—particularly if you're sipping out on someone else’s tab. The space doesn’t make an impression, but the direct views onto Times Square make up for that. Riffs on modern classics are smart and well-made (an applejack Jack Rose, the Boulevardier-like “BLVD”), although the $24 price tag might not go down easy.

@FOHNYC

@FOHNYC

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Jimmy

$$$

This is glitzy Manhattan à la “Sex and the City"—a warm, dimly lit indoor lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular views, and an outdoor patio with a pool. Come for a self-indulgent, decadent night on the town, complete with Champagne and tremendous Manhattan views; or come on a late summer afternoon in your finest swimming attire and sip a few frosés by the rooftop pool.

Hyla Skopitz

Hyla Skopitz

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The Cantor Roof Garden Bar at The Met

$$

We still love the rooftop magic above The Met—the views of Central Park are pretty incredible, as are the rotating art installations, and make for a fitting end to four hours of walking and gawking. They've got a few specialty cocktails, though beer and wine tend to be a wiser bet (though, frankly, you're here to gaze out over the city). Since the storied museum overhauled its pay-as-you-wish policy this past March, and non-New Yorkers now have to fork over $25 just to get in the door, it's best for visitors to knock out the viewing session and the drink in a single go.

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