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NYC's 10 Best Bars and Restaurants for Rooftop Drinking (Photo: Ink 48 Press Lounge)

NYC’s 10 Best Bars and Restaurants for Rooftop Drinking

New York may not have as lengthy an outdoor drinking season as some cities, but that just means we appreciate it more -- and the best way to raise a glass to al fresco drinking? On a rooftop of course, with the city spread out in all its glory below

Hotels, bars and restaurants all over New York make the most of their city footprint with expansive rooftop lounges, and come summer, they’re prime destinations for early evening sunlight or a front-row seat to the city’s gorgeous skyline. Not all rooftop bars are created equal; plenty use the location as an excuse to jack up your vodka-soda price by $5, and some all but turn into frat parties around happy hour. (Well, frat parties with far pricier drinks.)

But these 10 venues all have major points in their favor — whether a view straight up to the Empire State Building, first-class cocktails, or a beautifully styled lounge. Here are the best places for rooftop drinking this summer; if you put your mind to it, we bet you can check all 10 off your list by Labor Day.


Birreria at Eataly

Birreria at Eataly (Photo: Courtesy of Birreria)

Birreria at Eataly
Thanks to the dozen restaurants contained within its walls and every prosciutto, pasta and cheese imaginable for sale, Italian superstore Eataly in the Flatiron has been a hit since day one. But for the real highlight, take the elevator to Birreria on the 14th floor/rooftop, where the beer is brewed onsite in collaboration with master brewers from Dogfish Head, Baladin and Birra del Borgo. The result is unfiltered, unpasteurized ales served via hand-pump right to your glass. While you sip, dine on a roster of Italian- and German-inspired dishes; the sausages are a real standout. Just as impressive? Views of the Empire State Building, as well as other Midtown and Flatiron skyscrapers, towering overhead. An enclosed glass roof means that Birreria is open year-round, but cold beer is best experienced with a summer breeze. Top Floor, 200 Fifth Ave., 212-229-2560,


Jimmy at The James Hotel

Jimmy at The James Hotel (Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Jimmy at the James
Set on the 18th floor of SoHo‘s stylish James Hotel, Jimmy stands far above neighboring buildings, offering nearly 360-degree views of downtown Manhattan, the Hudson and every bridge into Brooklyn. In cooler weather, take in the vista from Jimmy’s comfortable indoor lounge, with 14-foot windows and a dark, cozy vibe; once warm-weather hits, enjoy the chaise lounges around the pool (opens May 17, 2014) on the spacious roof deck. The venture is from the nightlife triple-threat team of Johnny Swet (Balthazar, Freeman’s), Larry Poston (Pastis, Waverly Inn) and David Rabin (Lambs Club, Double Seven). Cocktails are in line with current mixology standards, with fresh juices and premium spirits; the watermelon tequila swizzle pairs particularly well with a warm evening. 15 Thompson St., 212-201-9118,


Pod 39 Rooftop Lounge

Pod 39 Rooftop Lounge (Photo: Courtesy of The Pod Hotels)

Pod 39
Over in Murray Hill, the seasonal rooftop bar at the Pod 39 hotel is managed by the super-star restaurant team behind Salvation Taco on the ground floor (Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield and restaurateur Ken Friedman) — meaning you’re guaranteed creative and beautifully executed cocktails that take advantage of warm-weather liquors like mezcal and gin. The views of Manhattan’s greatest skyscrapers are striking from its 17th floor perch just north of Midtown. 145 E. 39th St., 212-865-5700,


Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel

Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel (Photo: Dan Dickenson/Remydwd/Flickr CC)

Gallow Green
Half bar, half performance venue, Gallow Green sits atop Chelsea’s McKittrick Hotel, which is not actually a hotel at all, but a performance space styled after one. It houses Sleep No More, a modern interpretation of Macbeth in which actors and spectators freely interact throughout the space. Its seasonal rooftop bar is beautifully structured with lush greenery and a deliberately faded aesthetic — as you just happened to rediscover the most swinging bar of the 1920s through a time portal (the wait staff is in full character). Cocktails include enticing punch bowls designed by NYC cocktail historian Dave Wondrich. 542 W. 27th St., 212-564-1662,


Press Lounge at Ink48

Press Lounge at Ink48 (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Press Lounge
Even in the winter, Press Lounge at the Ink48 hotel is a gorgeous perch; its glass-walled interior space on the 16th floor means you’re never without a view, no matter the season. And about that view — it’s a spectacular one. Set a few avenues west of most Midtown skyscrapers, the rooftop bar is a prime vantage point for the unfolding New York skyline and the sparkling Hudson River. Outside is a sophisticated lounge with comfortable seating and a rooftop garden. For the best experience, order from a list of beautifully composed seasonally changing cocktails, although there’s also beer and wine by the glass. 653 11th Ave., 212-757-2224,


The Roof

The Roof (Photo: Courtesy of The Roof)

The Roof
The Roof — on the 29th floor of the Viceroy New York hotel — has a handsome interior, styled after a classic yacht, with dark wood and brass details by noted firm Roman and Williams. Its glamorous tendencies can’t overshadow the views out onto Central Park, just a few blocks north, which are breathtaking. Naturally, the outdoor terrace is a prime summer drinking spot, but even on cooler spring nights it’s popular as heat lamps and wool blankets take off the chill. The bar’s lengthy offering of high-end liquors such as the Don Julio 1942 and Macallan 25 year are soul-warming in any weather. 124 W. 57th St., 212-707-8008,


Bar 54 at Hyatt

Bar 54 at Hyatt (Photo: Courtesy of Hyatt Hotels)

Bar 54 at Hyatt
This Midtown lounge sits far and above any other rooftop on this list — in the literal sense — it’s at an ear-popping 54 stories above the street. The lounge itself is good-looking, with a variegated wooden “trunk” in the center of the room and laser-cut mirrored ceiling panels suggesting a leaf canopy, but the outdoor terrace is still the prime attraction. Make sure you’re ordering cocktails; acclaimed mixologists Julie Reiner (Pegu Club, Clover Club) and Tom Macy (Clover Club) are behind the menu, which highlights fresh ingredients and housemade syrups — everything from lavender to ginger and housemade grenadine. 135 W. 45th St., 54th Fl., 646-364-1234,


Upper Elm

Upper Elm (Photo: Courtesy of King & Grove)

Upper Elm
The Elm is one of 2013’s hottest openings, a contemporary French-inspired restaurant from Paul Liebrandt at Williamsburg‘s King & Grove. And the Upper Elm, the hotel’s rooftop lounge, is just as smoking, with cocktails by Jimmy Swet (also of Jimmy at the James), a short list of snacks to pair (tempura chicken sandwich, churros con chocolate) and a rotating schedule of on-point live music. Expect an opening over Memorial Day weekend; trust us, the sweeping view of Manhattan is worth the wait. 160 N. 12th St., Brooklyn, 718-218-7500,


Z Roof

Z Roof (Photo: Courtesy of Z Hotels)

Z Roof
The Z Hotel in Long Island City takes full advantage of its 5,000-square-foot rooftop, with monthly yoga classes, “Rooftop Picnics” for hotel guests, and a spacious, seasonal open-air lounge. The colorful 12th-floor space has plenty of seating, all the better to enjoy the vista across the Queensboro Bridge and into Manhattan (it’s especially breathtaking at sunset). The outdoor lounge opens for the season on May 3 when the Queens happy hour crowd will rejoice at the return of a favorite hangout.11-01 43rd Ave., Queens, 212-319-7000,


Berry Park

Berry Park (Photo: Courtesy of Berry Park)

Berry Park
While just across the river from Manhattan’s more swanky rooftop lounges, Williamsburg’s Berry Park has no uppity cocktail waitresses or fancy-pants setting. Instead, you’ll find a spacious second-floor rooftop space that’s determinedly casual, with bar stools and picnic tables, gently priced beer on tap and respectable cocktails (the Fernet After Dark or a Huckleberry Lemonade seem apropos to a warm summer’s night). It may only be two stories tall, but its view onto Manhattan’s entire skyline is still supreme. 4 Berry St., Brooklyn, 718-782-2829,

See New York’s Best Sidewalk Dining.
Check out 8 Rooftop Restaurants with Awe-Inspiring Views.
Drink up at New York’s 10 Best Rooftop Happy Hours.

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