Rooftop Lowdown

Cocktails, style, and breathtaking views make these rooftop bars tops

SdN East Terrace


As the sun begins to set on summer…Wait, why get nostalgic yet? Here’s a better idea: enjoying an actual sunset from a rooftop perch with a delicious cocktail or craft brew in hand. These four spots are just the places to do that.

On any given night on 27th Street in Chelsea, one can find a long string of people lined down the block, waiting for the doors of The McKittrick Hotel to open. They’re here for Sleep No More, the famous immersive theater show based loosely on Macbeth that sends viewers lustily chasing actors through a converted warehouse, trying to solve a mystery with no end. But that’s a one-time experience. The reason to return here is Gallow Green, the rooftop bar that has become a hot spot with theatrics of its own. With as much design work put into as the set of Sleep No more, the bar is outfitted with thick walls of plants and fairy lights, like a secret garden for adults. It hosts a regular series of musical acts, the occasional (very tastefully) themed party, and has a menu of craft cocktails. Known for its celebrity clientele, Gallow Green gets busy, so note that it’s more enjoyable with a prior reservation, especially for its weekend brunch. (27th St. nr. Eleventh Ave.)

Back in February, the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square re-opened after a major renovation with as much fanfare as any establishment could hope for. Its new rooftop bar, St. Cloud, may sound like a fitting name for a sky-high hot spot, but it in fact nods back to the building’s roots, originally a hotel called the St. Cloud built in 1868. Unlike much else in the area, St. Cloud offers a bit of uptown and downtown while avoiding any clichés that Midtown is often associated with. There’s a gorgeous Waterford Crystal Lounge and Nat Sherman Cigar Lounge for the fanciful ladies and gents, while the regular bar and an outdoor biergarten-esque space serve craft beers, eclectic cocktails, and shareable fare form chef Charlie Palmer. It’s certainly an after-work watering hole, but it also offers a great place to meet up anytime, given the centrality of its location. (6 Times Square)

It’s hard to walk by the Mondrian SoHo without doing a second, if not third take at its gorgeous street-level greenhouse restaurant, filled with twinkling chandeliers and greenery like a scene from a fairy tale. But up on the hotel’s roof is a lesser-known joint that carries equal amounts of personality but in a playful way all its own: Sonny’s Soda Shoppe. The indoor-outdoor space is furnished with wire chairs, long L-sofas, astroturf, and glossy white tables, making it feel like a midsummer’s dream of the Riviera. Drinks match the scheme, often European in name¾the Dolce Verde with tequila, olive oil, honeydew, and arugula, and lime¾and colored to match with the pastel candy stripes that adorn the walls and bar. There’s also dessert from Il Laboratorio del Gelato, some of which is used in mixologist Julio Torres’s recipes; rustic pizzas; oh, and unbeatable 360-degree views of the city. (Crosby St. nr. Grand St.)

Like the terrace of a chic uptown townhouse, Salon de Ning atop Fifth Avenue’s Peninsula Hotel is one of those go-tos that’s smart, private, and pleasant. Even at high times, it’s two outdoor terraces and indoor bar are purposefully kept from crowding up, which also allows the level of service to stay on par with what one would expect from one of the world’s top hotel brands. An East-meets-West design theme with striped pillows and hedges complemented by Chinese pottery used as small tables sets the scene for house specialty drinks inspired from around the world, like the Ning Sling of Hendricks, mint, lychee, and passion fruit or the Lautrec with cognac, absinthe, citronage, and lemon juice. But for a perfect New York night, take in the stunning city views with the Stuyvesant Island Iced Tea. (Fifth Ave. at 55th St.)