The Numbers Behind the Latest Sky-High Rooftop Bars in New York
(Bloomberg) -- During the lockdown months of the pandemic, many mourned the collective loss of bars, those “third places” that provide social connection—and plentiful drinks, of course—outside the home (the first place) and work (the second place).
This loss was felt even more keenly in New York, where traditionally small living spaces are balanced by sprawling access to the playrooms of bars and restaurants.
Over the past year they’ve slowly come back to a steadier drumbeat of feet on the streets. About 41% of workers have returned, according to estimates. The film crews are back. Broadway has reopened. When travel restrictions for international travelers to the U.S. lift on Nov. 8, a wave of tourists and business travelers will be coming to visit, eager to eat, drink, and take in the sights.
In 2021, New York is likely to see a projected 34.6 million visitors, according to NYC & Co., the city’s tourism promotion agency. That’s roughly half of 2019’s 66.6 million visitors, but it’s a significant surge from 2020’s relative ghost-town levels (22.3 million).
“We believe there will be pent-up demand as more international travel resumes; and in a normal year, international travel makes up 50% of total spending and hotel bookings,” explains Chris Heywood, executive Vice President for global communications at NYC & Co. “We are optimistic about New York City’s visitation levels as we look ahead to 2022.”
That’s good news for the city’s economy, but it’s kind of a nail-biter for those still trying to keep a little social distance during a late-stage pandemic without relinquishing access to a well-made martini. Luckily, four new sky-high venues with strong cocktail bona fides—most of them with some outdoor space–are ready to sweep guests up and away from the returning crowds.
Overstory (Financial District)
Atop a 1932 art deco building in the financial district at 70 Pine St., the team behind ground-floor restaurant Crown Shy has put together one of the most luxe bar experiences around. A private elevator brings guests to the 63rd floor, where restaurant Saga resides; the bar is a flight above that.
Drinks for all three venues are overseen by bar director Harrison Ginsberg. He’s put together a tightly edited cocktail menu that leans heavily on New York references, including an intriguing Terroir Old Fashioned made with reposado tequila, sherry, and yellow Chartreuse, sweetened with a honeycomb garnish that melts tantalizingly into the drink as it’s sipped. The final touch: Tilden sea salt, sourced from the shores of Fort Tilden in Queens.
The indoor space has a cozy, retro flow, but there are also (heated!) power seats outdoors on the wrought-iron terrace, with blankets and sweeping views of all five boroughs. The number of seats outside are likely to increase soon, the venue says.
By the numbers
825: feet high above street level, on the 64th floor
30: miles distance you can see. On a clear day, look for a glimpse of Connecticut.
588: square feet indoors, which includes 24 seats. An additional 790 square feet outdoors accounts for 32 seats.
10: cocktails on the menu. There are also seven wines, five beers (most from New York state, and three non-alcoholic options.
$24: the price of a cocktail
Opening date: Aug. 24
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Peak (Hudson Yards)
An oasis for well-heeled wine lovers at 30 Hudson Yards, the Peak restaurant has a unique bragging point: It’s one floor above the Edge, an already high-in-the-sky observation point. Once inside the Hudson Yards mall, head to the fifth-floor Peak bar, where an escort will take you to a hidden elevator to be whooshed up to the rarefied air of the 101st floor.
It’s a little startling to realize you’re actually on level with the helicopters buzzing by in the clouds outside. In addition to the restaurant, there’s a small 12-seat bar where you can order from executive chef Christopher Cryer’s locavore menu, organized by land, sea, and garden components, with drinks to pair.
The cocktails are thoughtful, echoing the food menu construct, but everyone here is either drinking wine from the 1,400-deep bottle list compiled by beverage director Zach Kameron, or thrilling at the Champagne cart as it glides by. While the restaurant is an ideal special occasion spot for a leisurely meal, another move is to start with bubbly at the bar and then slip downstairs to enjoy sunset at the Edge—bypassing the tourist lines and entry fee.
By the numbers
1,120: feet above street level you can go, to the 101st floor. (Note: The Edge is 1,100 feet high)
132: miles you can see on a clear day. Facing south, the view spans downtown Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty and beyond. Looking north, it can extend as far as the Catskill Mountains.
10,000: square feet of space it occupies. Peak encompasses four areas: a 130-seat main dining room, a 12-seat bar, a 14-seat private dining room, and an event space for up to 300. There’s no outdoor space at Peak, but you can head down to Edge for a drink from the outdoor Champagne bar.
1,400: wines by the bottle on the menu. There are 23 wines by the glass, four cocktails, and seven beers.
$20: price of a cocktail
Opening date: March 12, 2020, before it closed for the pandemic. It reopened in October 2020.
Hours: Lunch Thursday to Sunday, 11:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and dinner Monday through Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
To be fair, this is more a view with a bar than the other way around. Connected to Grand Central Terminal at Summit One Vanderbilt, the pyramid-shaped glass skyscraper offers a series of ticketed experiences at its peak, including access to “Air,” a sleek, immersive art experience-selfie factory designed by Kenzo Digital, and “Ascent,” a glass elevator that rises to the highest point available to visitors.
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events team oversees Apres, the food and drink concession, including a menu of classic cocktail variations created by Nick Bennett, who is also beverage director for Porchlight. (Try the Sunset Margarita, a rosy mix of tequila, pear liqueur, and pomegranate.) Of note: Only New York could find a way to monetize the sunset, but Summit One has easily the most dramatic westward view in the city, so it’s worth paying the surcharge to watch the skyline transform.
By the numbers:
1,100: feet above street level, on the 93nd floor
47.5: miles you can see. Most visitors focus on the tantalizingly close Chrysler and Empire State buildings. But facing north, the view sweeps as far as Bear Mountain.
65,000: feet of space over three floors that the Summit experience spans, including indoors and outdoors, where visitors can wander with drinks in their hands
6: specialty cocktails on the the menu. There are also three wine options, three beer choices, and three canned cocktails.
$18: the price for a cocktail, a la carte. But there’s no access to the bar without a ticket to Summit One, and prices for that range from $34 to $83; some packages include a drink at the bar.
Opening date: Oct. 21
Hours: Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Panorama Room (Roosevelt Island)
A young, energetic crowd keeps the drinks flowing in the 18th-floor bar atop the Graduate, the only hotel on Roosevelt Island, where it neighbors the Cornell Tech campus. The vibe channels a futuristic 1970s disco lounge—dangling glass chandeliers anchored by neon, magenta-velvet banquettes, a DJ booth. The eye is drawn immediately to the floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the Queensboro Bridge, which looms so close it feels as if you could climb it like playground monkey bars.
From the slender terrace outside, the view feels expansive and broad rather than dizzyingly vertiginous as it unrolls the curves of the East River below. The playful drinks are by beverage director Estelle Bossy (previously of Del Posto). Try the the Old Man and the Sea, a sherry-spiked Martini riff garnished with a savory smoked olive.
By the numbers
200: feet above street level, to the 18th floor
6: miles away that you can see, to the Freedom Tower
3,200: square feet of interior space. It’s enough to hold a 168-seat rooftop bar and lounge; outside, 775 square feet includes 18 seats.
13: cocktails on the menu, plus two non-alcoholic drinks
$18: price of a drink, generally speaking. There’s also a $36 Champagne & Chartreuse Boilermaker.
Opening date: Aug. 13
Hours: Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m.
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