The Summer Friday Guide
Where to get drinks when you’ve faked productivity for long enough, and you want to get the weekend started early.
Watching the minutes tick by on the upper right corner of your monitor can be tedious work on any Friday afternoon. Fridays in the summer are on a whole different level. It’s 80 degrees and sunny - or at least it looks like it from the one window on the other side of the office.
Whether you work at one of those companies that recognizes the reality of the situation and just lets everyone out at 2 or 3pm, or you’re just sneaking out a little early because your boss didn’t even bother to come in, here are some places you can go have a drink when you escape the office early at the end of the week.
There’s probably a guy in your office who goes out of his way to make sure everyone knows he’s really into beer. No, Gary, I haven’t had that imperial IPA that you can only get on-site at the brewery in Tuscaloosa. When you finally agree to get drinks with Gary, go to d.b.a. in the East Village. You can take in the big, sunny, brick-walled backyard (with BYO food) while he spends 20 minutes reviewing the rare craft beers on tap.
City Vineyard is a good move when you want after-work drinks on the Hudson, but don’t want to compete for the bartender’s attention with all of Deutsche Bank’s summer interns at The Frying Pan. The big space on the Hudson River running path works for casual drinks, and there’s plenty of seating in the glass-enclosed dining room or on the roof deck upstairs if you want to get some food. This place is from the same people behind City Winery, so they have a good wine list along with a raw bar and some Italian-leaning food.
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You asked one person at your desk to skip out early and grab a drink, but Cheryl overheard you and invited the whole floor, and now you need a place for 35 people in FiDi. Clinton Hall is your move. In the middle of office buildings and bodegas that close at 7pm, Clinton Hall is a huge indoor/outdoor beer garden with picnic tables and a lot of beers on tap. You can try any of the 13 different types of burgers while Cheryl tries to recruit people to play Jenga.
Boulton & Watt
Summer is the time of year when Thursday becomes the official first night of the weekend. That makes Friday morning less pleasant, but at least you can head out after four hours staring blankly at your monitor. When you do, find some relief in the form of picklebacks and a BEC called “The Hangover” at Boulton & Watt. They open up all the windows when it’s nice out, so the big picnic tables inside and outside are both good options for breathing in that fresh LES air.
Monarch Rooftop & Indoor Lounge
The triangle between MSG, the Empire State Building, and Bryant Park is not the absolute best place to be in the summer. The heat and humidity gets trapped between rows of tall buildings, there are jackhammers on every block, and the sidewalks are packed with tourists with trying to find the Hard Rock in Times Square. So when you take the elevator 59 floors down to leave your office on a Friday afternoon, you probably want to get off the street again as soon as possible. Walk over to the Monarch Rooftop, a big wraparound terrace with tables and couches on top of a hotel on 35th Street. You can reserve tables ahead of time, and it’s high enough up that you’ll temporarily forget about the jackhammers and lost tourists below.
Stone Street Tavern
When Summer Fridays roll around on Stone Street, it can be tough to tell where one bar ends and the next one begins. The outdoor seating on this cobblestone street in FiDi kind of resembles Oktoberfest, but instead of lederhosen, you’ll mostly see recently polished shoes and white dress shirts. We tend to gravitate to the picnic tables outside Stone Street Tavern, which has a better beer list than most spots on the block, a big menu of affordable bar food, and Happy Hour till 7pm.
Pier A Harbor House
If you work in FiDi, you probably reach your tourist saturation point when seeing selfies with the bull. So you may be skeptical of a bar overlooking the Statue Of Liberty. While Pier A Harbor House has plenty of people posing for pictures (the views are very good - forgive them), it’s a huge space that doesn’t feel like a tourist trap. Sit at a picnic table with friends and share some pitchers of beer and things from the seafood-heavy bar menu, like the very good oyster po’ boys.
Sweet and Vicious
Sweet and Vicious is one of the bigger bars in Nolita, and it’s also home to one of the area’s best back patios. Most people here will be drinking the signature frozen margaritas in a mason jar, and you probably should be doing so too if it’s 3:30 pm on a Friday. The backyard does get packed as day turns to evening, so we’d advise coming on the earlier side if you want to secure seating.
Pod 39 Rooftop Bar
A rooftop near Grand Central is like a burger on an otherwise all-vegetarian menu - it’s going to get attention regardless of how good it actually is. But the bar on top of the Pod 39 Hotel isn’t just packed because it’s one of the only outdoor spots in the area. We’d like this place regardless of convenience - the big space is decorated with brick archways with great views of the city, and they serve a bunch of different and enjoyable tequila cocktails. To beat the crowds, you may have to leave work around lunchtime.
Most bars in Midtown East are dark Irish pubs and sports bars - neither of which is appealing on a sunny Friday afternoon. The Jeffrey is on the border of Midtown and the UES, but the big back patio and long beer list are well worth the walk. Grab a picnic table out back with a few colleagues, try some hard-to-find beers, and split some very good bar food, like devils on horseback or a BLT stuffed with egg salad. There’s even an in-house espresso bar in case you left the office before your usual afternoon iced oat milk latte.
If you work around Nomad, your outdoor Happy Hour options are mostly limited to waiting in line for the Eataly roof and drinking wine out of a coffee cup in Madison Square Park. Which is why you should also know about Tavern29. The indoor area in this multi-level space is like an upscale sports bar, but you’re here for the rooftop beer garden. It’s surrounded by taller buildings on all sides, but the picnic tables are always full of people due to the big menu of drinks and bar food, and Happy Hour until 7pm.
$$$$Pier 6, Brooklyn
We get it: your startup in Dumbo is very casual. You can pour yourself a beer from the tap at lunch and wear jorts whenever you want. But rather than drinking another Sixpoint at your desk, head to Fornino and show off that sawed-off denim to some strangers. The big, elevated platform at this Neapolitan pizza spot is a great place to hang outside, and there’s a ton of seating at umbrella-covered picnic tables overlooking downtown Manhattan. Get to know the people in the WeWork pod next to you over some pizza and pitchers of sangria.
You’ll find the same great burger and old-school decor here as at the original P.J. Clarke’s in Midtown, but you’re really at this Brookfield Place spot for the outdoor seating on the Hudson. Get the “Cadillac Burger” with bacon and some beers at a table overlooking the harbor, where you can sit and think about who owns the weirdly huge yachts right in front of you.
Union Square is convenient for just about everyone, so it’s a great spot to meet friends when you all work in different neighborhoods. But outdoor options are very limited, and nobody is interested in standing at sideBAR or Brother Jimmys after spending the last 20 minutes on the subway. Go to Revival. It may look like a lot of other slightly divey bars off Union Square, but it actually has a very nice and kind-of-secret back patio. Push a couple of the small tables together, and take advantage of the good Happy Hour deals until 8pm.
Drinking rose on a beautiful sailboat usually requires you to befriend a guy wearing croakies at a bar in Nantucket. Grand Banks, though, is docked in Tribeca. As a result, getting a seat here on weekends usually requires you to skip lunch and stand alone on a pier on the Hudson. But if you can get out of work a bit early on a Friday afternoon, you might just be able to enjoy the views, oysters, and rose at Grand Banks without a wait.