The Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar & Lounge
The Empire's rooftop bar boasts (slightly) cheaper cocktails (about $14), more space, and a more down-to-Earth crowd than you typically find at the Gansevoort's Plunge in the Meatpacking District -- and it even has a comparable rooftop pool.
With its views of Midtown Manhattan and the Hudson River, Press Lounge at Ink 48 -- opened in April 2010 -- has quickly established itself amongst the ranks of best rooftop bars in New York City. Featuring a wrap-around terrace, indoor seating, a reflecting pool, and even a hot tub, Press Lounge encourages late-night partying in style -- the lounge is open year-round and doesn't close its doors until 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Top of the Strand
A popular spot amongst Midtown professionals in need of after-work cocktails, the Top of the Strand provides patrons with an intimate, garden-esque setting year-round (a sliding roof makes the bar four-seasons-friendly). The signature cocktails will set you back $15 each (relatively standard for NYC) but the not-so-standard views of the Empire State Building, just three blocks away, make it more than worth it.
A60 is one of the city's most exclusive rooftop bars, open only to card-carrying "members" (read: celebrities, fashion types, and other bold-named scenesters), plus hotel guests. In other words, for the price of a room, you just might gain access to some of the best celebrity-gawking in Manhattan.
Upstairs at the Kimberly
Opened in Spring 2010, the 4,000-square-foot Upstairs lounge on the 30th floor boasts spectacular 360-degree views of Midtown Manhattan and the nearby Chrysler Building, a long list of signature cocktails, and tasty small plates such as truffled mac and cheese and crisp baby artichokes.
This colorful, funky bar on the 14th floor of La Quinta hotel has one of the best views in town -- the Empire State building, one of New York's most iconic sites, towers above the action. But it's still somewhat of an undiscovered gem; you won't have to fight the crowds or put on your swank party clothes like you would at A60 or Plunge. Low-key revelers can enjoy the scene year-round -- seating is available in an enclosed glass area in the winter -- and order delivery to the rooftop from the area's excellent Korean joints when the late-night munchies hit (the bar doesn't serve food). Drinks are reasonably priced (for New York, anyway).
Salon de Ning
Styled in the spirit of 1930s Shanghai, Salon De Ning -- a 23rd-floor rooftop terrace that's popular among locals for its beautiful views and swank outdoor setting -- offers excellent, $22 cocktails and small shared plates. Sunday brunch is served on the terrace during the summer.
Glass Bar offers four signature cocktails, a few wine selections by the bottle and glass, and a menu of creative, small plates, such as truffle honey ricotta bruschetta and truffled short rib sliders. On Monday nights, the Michael Fredo Orchestra plays swing music from 8-10 p.m.
The Roosevelt Hotel's 19th-floor rooftop bar, Mad46, which opened in 2008, draws a crowd heavy with finance professionals who can afford its double-digit martinis. It stays open from May until the weather turns chilly in the fall. Renovations are under way to add an indoor lounge.
Hudson Sky Terrace
Hudson's Sky Terrace, which opened in May 2009 in time for the warm weather, is a relative newcomer to the New York rooftop bar scene. A limited menu is available from 12 to 8, and the terrace closes at 11:30, so it's better for mellow cocktail sipping in the sun than late-night parties. The 15th-floor location offers stunning views of Midtown and the Hudson River.
Rare View opened at the sleek Fashion 26 hotel in summer of 2010, and offers views of the Chrysler Building, Broadway marquees, and the surrounding area of Chelsea. The menu of cocktails are reasonably priced and offers eclectic and unique concoctions. Go for the RARE Fashion, it's a killer.