What is it about being on a rooftop, even one without a view to speak of? Maybe it’s the chance to see the city from a different vantage point, or maybe it’s human instinct to enjoy looking down from on high. In any case, if there’s something better than the combo of a view and a drink we sure don’t know what it is–maybe that’s why rooftop spots tend to get so crowded and overwhelming. Our advice? Hit them up in the off hours, not Saturday night.
Northern Territory (Greenpoint, 12 Franklin St. at Meserole, 347-689-4065) This new spot in the weird industrial bordertown between waterfront Williamsburg and Greenpoint has an enormous roof deck with lots of seating and an amazing view. What’s not so amazing is the crowd that tends to gather here. You’re guaranteed to hear a lot of sloppily shouted stories that begin, “Remember that time sophomore year?” Downstairs there’s another full bar and a restaurant serving Australian barbecue, which seems to be much more about burgers and skewers than about smoking or sauce. The bar menu includes a Pimm’s cooler made with locally produced Dorothy Parker gin, a decent beer list, including, of course, Foster’s, and an Australia-forward wine list. Get there early, get your drinks and snag a corner booth with your own lively crowd to drown out the summer intern chatter. –Annaliese Griffin
Ides Bar at the Wythe Hotel (Williamsburg, 80 Wythe Avenue, 6th Floor) It’s hard to overstate how lovely the view from the sixth-floor bar at the Wythe Hotel is, or how amazing and breezy the patio is on a warm night. The bar itself is run by the same team as Reynards (and Diner, Marlow & Sons and Romans), the hotel’s seasonally-focused restaurant. And while it feels fancy, with a tiny-tile floor, fantastically weird wine list and high-end cocktails made from locally-distilled spirits, you can also just order a beer and take in the view. The stone deck looks south to the Williamsburg Bridge, across the river at the tall buildings of Midtown, and the Freedom Tower, rising in Lower Manhattan. It also wraps around so that you can peer deep into Brooklyn, or up into Queens. Sip your glass of biodynamic sparkling rosé while you gaze out over the borough, but don’t go on a weekend–the wait to get in can be like something across the river. –AG
Night of Joy (Greenpoint, 667 Lorimer St. at Meeker) There’s just something about rooftop bars (or maybe it’s just rooftop bars in Williamsburg) that makes them turn into a sceney mess on nights and weekends, and Night of Joy is no different, even though the view from their leafy perch is of the BQE, not the Empire State Building. Nevermind that–this is your new favorite happy hour spot. From 5pm to 8pm every day signature cocktails (embrace the afternoon Bloody Mary with their cilantro-spiked version) and frozen margaritas are $6. With its hanging baskets of flowers, vines and greenery, Night of Joy is actually much better experienced in the sunshine. –AG
Bia (South Williamsburg, 67 S. 6th St. between Wythe and Berry) If spring rolls, lollipop chicken wings and bahn mi are your idea of the perfect bar food, Bia might just be your idea of the perfect bar. The downstairs is decidedly more of a restaurant, though there is a proper bar to belly up to, but upstairs is a small but lovely roof deck for sitting and sipping from the excellent beer selection. They also host DJs and live music from time to time. Make this your spirits and sustenance stop after strolling over the Williamsburg Bridge. –BB