With the Rockefeller Christmas tree, the famous 5th Avenue holiday storefront displays, hockey games at Madison Square Garden and the Christmas Market in Bryant Park – winter in New York is supposed to be legendary.
Yet, some New Yorkers would disagree. After all, you don’t really know cold until you’ve experienced February in Manhattan. With discolored slush lapping at the sidewalks and an endless smoky sky bearing down upon city-goers, winter in New York, to locals, might even seem a little bit overrated.
One of the downsides of wintertime in New York is that many outdoor attractions are closed, or at least not as fun, due to the weather. For example, the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park is no longer in bloom, and beer gardens are closed for the most part. But, one part of city culture that remains surprisingly thriving is the rooftop bar and club scene.
Rather than close for the winter, many rooftop bars in NYC transform to accommodate the darkness and the cold, offering an oasis from the gloom.
So if you find yourself in the city any time from November through March, make sure to unwind with a glass of wine (or a cocktail … or two) at one of these rooftop bars in NYC, offering a warm atmosphere and a view of the city that never sleeps.
The Ready Rooftop Bar – East Village, Manhattan
Self-described as “an escape from the New York daily grind,” The Ready Rooftop is open year-round at the top of the Moxy Hotel in East Village, Manhattan. It usually boasts beachy vibes to bring you away from the hustle and bustle of the city below. However, during the winter months, The Ready Rooftop is featuring its first-ever seasonal pop-up, called “Palm Holiday.”
Open through March 2022, Palm Holiday is “a tropical paradise featuring colorful plants all over the space, lit-up palm trees, decked out festive trees with flamingos, and of course, frozen cocktails and bites to make you feel like you’re out of office all winter long.” If you’re looking for a distraction from the oppressiveness of winter, then this is the tropical stay-cation for you.
Westlight – Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Although Manhattan is usually the go-to for rooftop experiences, what better place to view the skyline than a rooftop bar in Brooklyn? Westlight in Williamsburg is ideal for both views and booze. It’s a “22nd-floor rooftop bar from Chef Andrew Carmellini’s NoHo Hospitality Group featuring sweeping views of New York City.” With an indoor area perfect for keeping cozy while the wind and snow tumble around outside, you can still enjoy the view through the 360-degree windows.
It’s pretty much right on the Hudson, so there’s nothing in the way of the city lights. With a lowkey lounge atmosphere with comfy chairs and subtle lighting, you may be reluctant to leave after a couple of drinks. Westlight even supports local breweries, offering a selection of beers, like an IPA made by Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. They offer some interesting choices for cocktail lovers, like the aptly named “High Altitude,” made with Singani 63, St-Germain, lemongrass, lemon and sparkling wine.
The Press Lounge – Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan
Surrounded by a dark atmosphere and tons of comfy couches, you’ll find yourself sinking into The Press Lounge in no time. The lounge opens at 5 p.m., so it’ll be dark by the time you snag a seat here. But, that doesn’t mean that the views are any less stunning, as you’ll be among some of the most interesting architecture New York City has to offer. The glow of these superstructures lights up the entire landscape.
Snug yet chic, The Press Lounge is certainly somewhere you’ll feel like, well, lounging. Their menu features delightfully corny drinks like the “Holiday Cheermeister,” and the bites here are crowd-pleasing (warm, soft pretzel, anyone?).
RoofTop XP – Jersey City, NJ
For more of a platonic ideal of a Manhattan view, you can go to New Jersey. No worries, though; Jersey City is just a PATH stop away from downtown. The RoofTop at Exchange Place is worth the trip out of the city proper. With a stunning lookout for the Statue of Liberty and the Hudson River (as well as that iconic skyline), you’d be remiss to skip this spot. Not only are there huge glass windows to look out from, but also a glass ceiling, the night sky opening up right above your table.
As for atmosphere, you can look forward to myriad live DJs on weekend nights and minimalist seating – so you can focus on lively conversation and the beauty of the world outside. Look forward to trying one of RoofTop XP’s fun signature drinks, like “The Light Horse” or “The 6th Borough.”
Moon Bar – Flushing, Queens
For those looking for a bustling night out, Moon Bar in Flushing is the place to be; it’s more of a club than a cocktail lounge. Here, you can savor a ”sky view of the city on the 9th floor and rooftop of The One Hotel, against a backdrop of panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.”
Known for their craft cocktails, like the “Asian Peach” and “Yuzu Jam,” you won’t go thirsty. And for those looking to remain sober, Moon Bar also offers non-alcoholic cocktails that sound just as intriguing (the “Peach Sunrise” seems a tempting choice). After the sun goes down, you can look forward to live DJs spinning custom playlists of pretty much every genre, delivering the perfect tunes so you can dance the night away.
Spyglass – Midtown, Manhattan
Literally in the shadow of the Empire State Building, grabbing drinks at Spyglass is certainly an (ahem) elevated experience. The dark, modish mood of this smaller establishment allows for closeness and hushed conversation while gazing upwards at the skyscrapers that surround this rooftop.
With seasonal cocktails like the “Winter Sunshine” (dark rum, pineapple, crème de coco, orgeat) and the ‘Pumpkin Fever” (vodka, pumpkin purée, rosemary syrup, lime), Spyglass embraces the crisp city climate and a whirlwind of elements that descend upon New York this time of year.
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