The 8 Best Rooftop Cocktail Bars in NYC

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By: Sarah

The best way to enjoy a nice drink in New York is on a rooftop bar. There are many in the city that are advertising the best views. However, these eight are my top picks for the ultimate rooftop bar experience in NYC. All of the bars on this list have a breathtaking view, excellent craft cocktails, a luxurious environment, and a minimum 4 out of 5 star rating or higher.

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I’m a big fan of rum, and to make things more interesting I got a Bacardi rum cocktail at each location to test each bars creativity and style. I thought this was the perfect liquor to choose because there are many ways that it can be incorporated into a drink. It is also great year round, which is an ideal test for many of the rooftop bars I’m mentioning since New York has extremely different weather depending on the time of year. Therefore, bartenders need to think outside the box to make a different drink for each season. Without further ado, join me in finding New York’s best rooftop cocktail bar.

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Harriet’s Rooftop & Lounge

Harriet’s Rooftop & Lounge - There are several Brooklyn bars that have decent views of Manhattan. However, one of the best to see the city skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty is from Harriet’s Rooftop. Here you will find refined craft cocktails and thoughtful bites. You can also cool off in their crystalline plunge pool if you’re lucky enough to be a hotel guest.

    1. Rating: 4.0 rating with 119 reviews

    2. Location: Dumbo, Brooklyn

    3. Menu - Cocktails $16+, Beer $9+, Wine $14+

Cocktail of choice: I ordered the Hibiscus Punch. It has Bacardi Rum, fresh lime, hibiscus, and ginger beer (above). This was a great summer drink because of the fruity flavors. The lime and ginger beer made it refreshing, which was much needed in humid July when I was visiting!

Westlight

Westlight - Another iconic rooftop bar in Brooklyn is Westlight. This bar from Chef Andrew Carmellini’s NoHo Hospitality Group has gorgeous views of New York City from atop The William Vale in Williamsburg. They have a dynamic menu of original and classic cocktails alongside rare spirits, craft beer and wine. Don’t miss out on Carmellini’s menu of small plates which reflect inspiration from global street food.

    1. Rating: 4.4 rating with 943 reviews

    2. Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

    3. Menu - Cocktails $18 +, Beer $9+, Wine $14+

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Cocktail of choice: I ordered the “Ponce de Leon” with Bacardi Rum, banana, pineapple, lime, and angostura bitters. This was my favorite cocktail out of all of the bars and was presented beautifully with a sun-dried lemon wedge in a cocktail glass. It had a well balanced flavor that was subtly sweet, tropical, and fresh.

Rooftop at Exchange Place

Rooftop at Exchange Place - I’m going to do something crazy and recommend a bar that is technically not in NYC - gasp! Though the RoofTop at Exchange Place is in Jersey City, it has better views than many Manhattan rooftop bars and slightly lower prices. From its rooftop you’ll have stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, Hudson River, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island and beyond. The RoofTop provides year round comfortable vibes with its retractable glass roof and walls which creates the perfect setting for lunch, happy hour, dinner, and sunset cocktails with a view. On the weekend, it turns into a day and night hot spot featuring live DJs.

    1. Rating: 4.3 rating with 736 reviews

    2. Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

    3. Menu - Cocktails $14+, Beer $6+, Wine $9+

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Cocktail of choice: I ordered the “Under the Boardwalk” with Bacardi Rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and fresh lime juice. I was a little disappointed in this drink because the flavors were not as sweet as I expected them to be and the presentation was seriously lacking. The bartender just threw it all together in a cup and put an orange slice on top. Nonetheless, the epic views made up for what the drink lacked.

Spyglass Rooftop Bar

Spyglass Rooftop Bar - If you’re looking to get up close and personal with the Empire State Building head to Spyglass Rooftop Bar. They are known for their craft cocktails and shareable bites from celebrated chef Charlie Palmer. The rooftop is located within Archer Hotel New York and is inspired by "Rear Window" with patrons serving as voyeurs to the city below and aesthetically drawing cues from the beautiful telescope used by the lead Jimmy Stewart in that film and its era of elegance and style.

    1. Rating: 4.2 rating with 322 reviews

    2. Location: Midtown, Manhattan

    3. Menu - Cocktails $17+, Beer $9+, Wine $16+

Cocktail of Choice: I ordered the “Pineapple Punch” with Bacardi Rum, pineapple, lime, and cinnamon. The cinnamon flavor made this pineapple rum drink stand out from the others in flavor. It was a small change but did impact the flavor a lot. It remind me of Christmas in the summer!

Refinery Rooftop

Refinery Rooftop - This trendy midtown bar has 3,500 square feet of indoor-outdoor space, including a lounge with fireplace and leather sofas, a bar area with retractable roof, and a summery alfresco terrace with cozy wooden tables overlooking the memorable Manhattan skyline. Guests here are treated to natural handcrafted cocktails and shareable New American dishes.

    1. Rating: 4.4 rating with 1,079 reviews

    2. Location: Midtown, Manhattan

    3. Menu - Cocktails $16+, Beer $8+, Wine $14+

Cocktail of choice: I ordered a classic mojito with Bacardi Rum, fresh mint leaves, club soda, and white sugar. Refinery Rooftop knows how to make a proper drink. Although this wasn’t very creative, sometimes it is easy to mess up the basics. They nailed their mojito! It was everything you’d want in an iconic summer drink; refreshing and light.

Salon de Ning

Salon de Ning - If you are interested in one of the most luxurious experiences in town head to Salon de Ning. It is the rooftop bar at the Peninsula Hotel, and is known for its world-class cocktails made with premium ingredients, contemporary small plates, a tasteful decor inspired by 1930s Shanghai, and breathtaking panoramic views of Fifth Avenue.

    1. Rating: 4.2 rating with 267 reviews

    2. Location: Midtown, Manhattan

    3. Menu - Cocktails $27+, Beer $16+, Wine $20+

Cocktail of choice: I’ll be honest with you, I could not bare to spend $27 on one cocktail so instead I went for a glass of rose wine!

Bar SixtyFive

Rainbow Room’s Bar SixtyFive - Skip the Top of the Rock and head to the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza instead. Here you’ll find Bar SixtyFive with its panoramic views of Manhattan. The glamorous rooftop lounge has a wraparound open-air terrace where patrons can experience alfresco drinking and dining at 240m up in the air. Make sure to get reservations in advance here.

    1. Rating: 4.4 rating with 295 reviews

    2. Location: Midtown, Manhattan

    3. Menu - Cocktails $16+, Beer $10+, Wine $15+

Cocktail of choice: I ordered “Doctor No. 5” it has Bacardi Rum, Avuá Still Strength Cachaça, Banhez Joven Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, and Orange. This cocktail was masterfully made. It was clear a professional mixologist was behind the order! I loved it because it was sweet, yet smoky because of the mezcal.

The Skylark

The Skylark - The Skylark is one of my go-to spots in the city. It is a sophisticated year-round destination for expertly crafted cocktails in a modern lounge setting with bewildering panoramic views of New York City. Elegantly furnished, the indoor lounge has glorious floor-to-ceiling windows, while the open-air rooftop terrace draws patrons with its expansive vistas of Times Square and the Empire State Building. I recommend ordering the “Borracho Amigo”. It is my favorite drink.

    1. 4.5 rating with 737 reviews

    2. Midtown, Manhattan

    3. Menu - Cocktails $18+, Beer $9+, Wine $13+

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Cocktail of choice: This time I ordered the “Caramelized Pineapple Mojito”. It has Bacardi Rum, fresh lime juice, caramelized pineapple puree, mint, and a grilled pineapple wedge. At this point I was beginning to get a little bored with all of the pineapple drinks but The Skylark made this one differently which excited my tastebuds. This drink brought me back to Hawaii, when my family and I would grill pineapple over the fire. I was impressed with how I could actually taste the smokiness from the caramelized and grilled flavors. It was fantastic!

Which is the best rooftop bar?

This is a tough decision for me because I think they are all unique in their own way, but I think I am tied between Westlight and The Skylark. Both bars make exceptional cocktails, but what makes them different is their atmosphere.

Why the Westlight?

It has a fun, laid backed vibe thanks to its rooftop with various games (corn hole, foosball table, and giant Jenga). They also have epic views of the Manhattan skyline and the bridges. Everyone is welcome there, you can even bring kids as long as you arrive before 5pm. I liked that everyone was sitting on the grass, enjoying their drinks, and relaxing. It was very chill!

Why The Skylark?

The Skylark has a sophisticated and modern vibe. It is more lounge style and is in the heart of Manhattan so the views are completely different. The view of the Empire State Building and the NYE ball make this place a gorgeous spot to watch the sunset. The service is great, and the drinks are exceptional. It will always be my go-to spot when I’m in Manhattan.


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