The Least Awful Rooftop Bars In NYC

Where to enjoy a nice view without having to fight through a crowd of tourists.
The Least Awful Rooftop Bars In NYC image

photo credit: Art Gray

Most rooftop bars in NYC are either wildly expensive or filled with interns who think that standing in a 30-minute bathroom line is a fun cultural experience. If you don’t love $20 vodka sodas and last year’s Billboard Hot 100, it can be hard to find a good option. Sure, you could always try one of the city’s Best Rooftop Bars, but even some of those get overcrowded sometimes. That’s why we put together this list of rooftops that are least likely to annoy, aggravate, or demoralize you. The majority of them are relatively quiet, although we did include one where you can dance until 2am.


photo credit: Alice Gao



$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersDrinking Good CocktailsFirst/Early in the Game DatesOutdoor/Patio SituationPeople Watching


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Williamsburg isn’t exactly a sleepy part of town. So how is it that this rooftop bar on the 11th floor of The Penny hotel isn’t the least bit annoying? First, it has a lot of space inside, and two separate terraces, so you won’t be bumping up against people lathered in sweat. Second, there are tons of comfy couches in every shade of green where you can sip pretty cocktails and Mexican dishes with unique touches, like a scallop aguachile with galangal. And third, they take reservations—nothing’s more valuable than a guaranteed table on a Friday night.

We’re 99% sure that 99% of people in New York City don’t know that Apotheke Nomad exists and has a rooftop. The main bar area is down a set of stairs behind an unmarked door on 26th Street, but there’s an elevator that’ll take you to a small 11th-floor penthouse with a standing-room bar and a little terrace that has an up-close view of the Empire State Building. The terrace is calm, dark, and quiet, with just a handful of tables surrounded by armchairs. Do the cocktails cost $20? Yes, of course. But if you need to impress someone who hates crowds, this is one of your best options.

Once a month, your most outgoing coworker will inevitably suggest that everyone in the office grab drinks together in a misguided attempt to build team spirit. If you work in Midtown, the bar options are limitless, and most of them will make you sad. So try Freehold Rooftop. Located at the top of the Pod 39 Hotel, this bar features a mellow outdoor patio surrounded by columns and brick arches. It’s not as uptight as most rooftops in the area, and you can eat some oysters or a lobster roll while you take in the entirety of Murray Hill.

Natural wine is fun, cool, and pretentious in an approachable kind of way, and it works particularly well in the summertime when you just want something cold and chuggable. Swing by Cherry on Top in Bushwick, where all the wines are chilled, including the reds. The little indoor bar area is perfect for a first date or quick catch-up with a friend, but the second-story rooftop is the real reason to come here. It’s covered in white patio furniture and surrounded by lattice fencing, with plenty of room for big groups.

The rooftops of Williamsburg are plentiful and overcrowded. A few of them have impressive views and great cocktails, but if you’re looking for a place where you don’t have to make a reservation or pay $20 for your margarita, head up the street to Greenpoint Beer & Ale. This brewery has big garage doors that swing open in the summertime, and if you walk up a flight of stairs, you’ll find a rooftop with picnic tables and a purely decorative stained glass water tower. Bring a few friends, get a burger or a fried chicken sandwich from the bar downstairs, and enjoy an Alsatian pilsner that was brewed on site.

It’s not really summer until you dance on a rooftop in the part of Bushwick filled with old warehouses and train tracks that appear to be abandoned. Elsewhere is a great choice, but if you want something a little more low-key, check out Honey’s. Attached to a meadery where you’ll see all sorts of honey wine fermenting in barrels, this cocktail bar occasionally hosts dance parties on their roof. The second-story deck is lined with planters and has a big open space where you can listen to a DJ and catch a surprisingly decent view of the Manhattan skyline. Keep an eye on their IG to see what events are coming up.

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