Is an affordable rooftop drink an oxymoron in New York City? With cocktail prices often as sky-high as the decks they’re served on, it would be easy to conclude that libations with a view are only for those with unlimited funds. But there’s a loophole: happy hour. Yep, even New York City’s rooftop bars have drink specials, and we’ve got the skinny on the 10 best places to go when you’re more into $5 beers than $17 artisanal cocktails.
VU Rooftop Bar
Daily happy hour 5-7pm and all day Sunday. $5 beers, $5 well drinks, $3 house shots.
Located 14 floors above Koreatown on top of the La Quinta Manhattan Hotel, VU Bar is one of Manhattan’s best-kept rooftop secrets. Formerly known as Me Bar, this casual space still offers affordable drinks and striking Empire State Building views. The daily happy hour knocks a few dollars off the $7 and $8 draft beers and provides great value on well drinks and house shots. After happy hour, this unpretentious spot maintains its appeal with $7 glasses of wine and cocktails starting at $10. 17 West 32nd St., 212-736-1600, vunyc.com
Night of Joy
Daily happy hour 5-8pm. $6 signature cocktails, $4 select beers.
Sister bar to the Dove Parlour in Greenwich Village, Night of Joy is a cocktail bar with a vintage sensibility on a somewhat grimy Williamsburg corner. The location makes this roof patio with festive strings of lights and a scattering of tables and chairs all the more enjoyable. The daily happy hour is also a great excuse to try several house cocktails that utilize spirits infused with ingredients from the bar’s own herb garden. Try the basil-lime gin gimlet or orange blossom rum lemonade. 667 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, 718-388-8693, nightofjoybar.com
Rooftop happy hour Thursday, Friday, Saturday 5-7pm. $5 beer, $7 sangria or specialty cocktails.
The Z Hotel in Long Island City, Queens, is home to a colorful 5,000-square-foot rooftop lounge on the 12th floor. Bright pink chairs and metal tables overlook the Queensboro Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. Uninterrupted views of the East River and Midtown‘s iconic skyscrapers are a perfect backdrop for sunset happy hour drinks. Choose among $5 beer specials, $7 sangria or $7 Z specialty cocktails. 11-01 43rd Ave., Queens, 212-319-7000, zhotelny.com/dining-lounge/z-roof/
Weekday happy hour Monday-Friday 2-7pm. $5 drink specials.
On the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, Berry Park has an expansive second-floor rooftop with more than 100 seats and 14 beers on tap. Bar stools and picnic-style tables are scattered about the casual space. Some come for the sweeping views of Manhattan, while others travel for the indoor big screens showing international soccer and rugby. Even after the $5 drink specials for happy hour have ended, drinks are affordable, including $6 to $7 draft beers and cocktails such as huckleberry lemonade starting at $9. 4 Berry St., Brooklyn, 718-782-2829, berryparkbk.com
“Mad Monday” happy hour from 5-6pm, Saturday sunset happy hour from 5-7pm, Special happy hours to coincide with rooftop movie screenings. Deals vary.
One of the more refined rooftops with happy hour options is Mad46, located on the 19th floor on top of the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown East. Happy hour specials are specific and somewhat limited, but they’re there. For cocktail hour on “Mad Monday,” you get $10 specialty drinks and $6 beer and wine, while a Saturday sunset happy hour offers the same specials, and some Fridays include a Summer Friday cocktail hour from 5 to 6pm. Consult the online calendar for details. Another reason to visit is the Mad46 summer movie series, which includes a pre-show cocktail hour from 8 to 9pm before screenings of films like Goodfellas and Casablanca. 45 E. 45th St., 212-885-6095, mad46.com
Daily happy hour 5-8pm. Half-price drinks.
Above the buzz of the Lower East Side, sits the stylish and comfortable Hotel Chantelle second-floor rooftop. The bar’s half-price drinks from 5 to 8pm augment an already sweet space — a tiled floor, dangling greenery and antique lanterns give it an elegant finish reminiscent of Paris. Grab a seat at the bar or sit along one of the long wooden benches to enjoy creative cocktails showcasing summer flavors such as blackberries, cucumbers and pineapple. The downstairs club has weekend DJ sets to continue the festivities into the night. 92 Ludlow St., 212-254-9100, hotelchantelle.com
Daily happy hour 5-8pm. Two-for-one drinks.
In the East Village near Union Square, Bar 13 looks like your average bar with a couple of dance floors and loud music. But on top of two floors of thumping sound systems is the roof deck, a spacious spot with palm trees and plenty of stools and chairs. With one of the longest happy hours on this list, drinks are two-for-one every night from 5 to 9pm. The crowd might be heavy on students, and there’s a bouncer at the door as the night goes on, but there’s no denying that the drinks on this rooftop are a good, long-lasting value. 35 E. 13th St., 212-979-6677, bar13.com
Happy hour Wednesday-Sunday 6-7pm. $5 select beers and select cocktails.
On top of the Ravel Hotel in Long Island City, Queens, Penthouse 808 offers plush couches with jaw-dropping views of the Queensboro Bridge and the entire twinkling skyline of Manhattan from the 16th floor. Many people come here for the tasty Asian-inflected food, but there’s also a great weekday happy hour from 5 to 8pm. Sip on a margarita, mojito, sangria or select beer for $5. The prices may be low, but the crowd is typically dressed-up for the occasion. After happy hour, you can stick around for special events like live jazz on Wednesdays or DJ sets on Friday nights. 8-08 Queens Plaza S., 718-289-6118, penthouse808rooftop.com
The Heights Bar and Grill
Twice-daily happy hour 5-7pm, 11pm-1am. $5 draft beers, $5 glasses of wine, $5 well drinks.
A Morningside Heights favorite, the Heights Bar and Grill is an inexpensive and cheerful spot that attracts many Columbia students to its third-floor perch. This rooftop has some of the cheapest happy hour specials, including $4 draft beers, glasses of wine and well drinks. The retractable roof means it’s an all-season space, but it’s one that’s best enjoyed during the summer months. Flickering candles along with black-and-white photographs of old New York give the casual space some atmosphere. 2867 Broadway, 212-866-7035, theheightsnyc.com
Daily happy hour 12-5pm. $5 drink specials.
The NoMad neighborhood isn’t always known for affordable deals, but Tavern 29 is a notable exception. This 19th-century townhouse has a third-floor rooftop beer garden with communal picnic-style tables and Edison bulbs strung above. Every day a draft beer, cocktail and glass of wine is on offer for the $5 drink special. Skip out of work early to enjoy a $5 Highline cocktail, made up of Bulldog gin, watermelon and grapefruit-hopped bitters. After happy hour, stick around for the upscale pub grub such as grass-fed beef sliders with smoked gouda. 47 East 29th St., 212-685-4422, tavern29.com
For more rooftop ideas, check out our list of 8 Rooftop Restaurants with Awe-Inspiring Views.
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