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Sky High
There's a lot happening in the city skies. We've scoped out the 13 coolest rooftop bars and discovered Salsa music, $75 cocktails, $3 cans of Tecate, and amazing views.
 
BY CARLA SPARTOS
 
The lush life at A60
A60
Hotelier Jason Pomeranc's elegant members-only rooftop bar features plush patio furniture and awesome views—and happens to be less exclusive than it seems: Sure, gaining access is a helluva lot easier if you happen to be Pomeranc gal pal Shannen Doherty, but would-be partiers can also score a key card by getting a room. Kinda like the hotel equivalent of bottle service. A60 opens Monday, May 17.
The view: A 13th-floor terrace showcasing midtown and lower Manhattan skylines
The menu: Cocktails with fresh exotic fruits ($10-$14) and spicy Thai hors d'oeuvres ($8-$12)
60 Thompson, 60 Thompston St., between Spring and Broome Sts.; 877-431-0400; 60thompson.com; Daily, 5pm-midnight, through Labor Day, weather permitting
 
The Heights Bar & Grill
Students and locals flock to this second-story Morningside Heights bar for not one, but two god-don't-you-miss-college happy hours ($3 frozen margaritas and draft beers, Sun-Wed, 5pm-7pm and 11pm-1am, Thu-Sat, 5pm-7pm and 11:30pm-12:30am). You'll pay full price for tequila at a rooftop table—the miniscule bar is only outfitted with three seats—but dude, you'll be so wasted you won't even care.
The view: A vertigo-proof third-floor roof and probable beer goggles mean minimal college-town views
The menu: Frozen margaritas ($5-$12.50) and stuffed-to-bursting burritos ($6.95-$10.95)
2867 Broadway, between 111th and 112th Sts.; 212-866-7035; Daily, 11:30am-10:15pm (downstairs bar open until 4am), weather permitting
 
Your royal High Bar
High Bar
The congratulatory copy for this 2003 Best of New York winnner described it as "mobbed all summer long by a rotating cast of celebrities, from Sofia Coppola to the White Stripes." With the beloved Gramercy now a Schrager property, not to mention the only glamorous bar on our list with the hours to merit late-night shenanigans, we're predicting that statement holds forth in 2004.
the view: An 18-floor terrace with wraparound views of the Manhattan skyline, including a striking shot of the Chrysler building
the menu: The High Bar Fizz ($13) shakes up Absolut Kurant, Chambord, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and berries
Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave., at 21st Street; 212-475-4320; gramercyparkhotel.com; Sun-Tue, 4pm-1am, Wed-Thu, 4pm-2am, Fri-Sat, 4pm-3am, year-round
 
Hotel Metro Rooftop Bar
"Rooftop Bar—Cash Only" reads a sheet of white paper taped to a back elevator in the Hotel Metro's art deco lobby. We'll grant you it's a bit sketchy, but this after-work rooftop jam is surprisingly fun (especially considering the best neighborhood watering hole is probably the bar in Macy's), with cheap beer, an unpretentious after-work crowd, and a DJ who doesn't look a day over 15 adeptly spinning old-school hip-hop, funk, and freestyle.
The view: The Empire State Building practically stands next to this 13th-floor roof deck
The menu: $4 cans of Tecate and Reingold ($3, 5:30pm-7:30pm)
Hotel Metro, 45 W. 35th St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves.; 212-279-3535; hotelmetronyc.com; Mon-Fri, 5:30pm-10pm, weather permitting
 
Feeling blue at Sky Terrace
Hudson Sky Terrace
Now this is a summer camp we'll never-ever-ever write tear-stained letters—gasp!—begging you to—sob!—pick us up from. Pinky swear. Why just look at the brochure: Fanciful cocktails, table servants (excuse us, service), an air-conditioned game room, even a hammock. But since our mom won't give us the money to stay here, we'll be prowling for plastered hotel guests in the Library Bar. Room key required for entrance.
The view: A 15th-floor terrace affords glimpses of the Hudson River, as well as Ninth Avenue stretching towards lower Manhattan
The menu: Sangrias, "sparkle-tinis," and martinis ($8-$15) like the apropos Pink Prozac, which mixes Belvedere Cytrus with lime, grapefruit, and cranberry juices
The Hudson Hotel, 356 W. 58th St., between Eighth and Ninth Aves.; 212-554-6317; ianschragerhotels.com; Daily, 10am-10pm, through October, weather permitting
 
Jade Terrace
An indoor lounge plays salsa, hip-hop, and dance to a packed and sweaty dancefloor, while an adjacent Asian-themed terrace offers a more serene palm-frond oasis. Unlike the other rooftops on this list, the Jade Terrace is primarily a dance club, so if you're looking to avoid cover charges, beefy bouncers, and a hey-baby vibe, go elsewhere. Note: Thursdays boast a buffet, a popular feature at many a city salsa night.
The view: A walled-in fourth-floor terrace results in some neckcraning at the surrounding Times Square towers
The menu: Shoddily mixed well-vodka drinks ($8), anyone?
China Club, 268 W. 47th St., between Broadway and Eighth Ave.; 212-398-3800; chinaclubnyc.com; $5-$25 cover; Wed, 9pm-4am, Thu-Fri, 5pm-4am, Sat-Mon, 10pm-4am, weather permitting
 
The Park
Our young spies say that the Park, which has seen scads of A-list celebs and Vice-toting debs pass through its kooky environs over the years, shows zilch signs of cooling (hell, Gisele Bundchen just threw a modelicious bash here, so there you have it). But just as sexy as its patrons might be the rooftop penthouse, complete with a hot tub that's known to get especially naughty on Sunday nights, when the boys come out for a romp in "The Rambles."
The view: Eye candy makes up for third-floor west Chelsea views that don't pass muster
The menu: $10 cocktails—nobody's here for the food
118 Tenth Ave., between 17th and 18th Sts.; 212-352-3313; theparknyc.com; currently open to the public Fri-Sun, 11pm-4am, year-round (the deck gets winterized come brisk weather)
 
The Pen-Top Bar & Terrace
The Pen Top's clubby vibe and astro-turf roofdeck has been replaced with a new glass-encased bar resembling a big block of incandescent ice. Kinda cool in a slick 007 way, but sorta cheesy and souped-up Mars 2112, too. We'll take our blue bloods all scruffy and stuffy, thank you very much. Still, there's no shortage of tables on the sizable slate-topped terrace to huddle over martinis and charitable causes.
The view: Stunning views of Fifth Avenue and Central Park, as well as midtown architectural gems like the Citicorp Center
The menu: $19 apple martinis and the $75 Jewel in a Glass (Louis Roederer Cristal and Dolce Far Niente) keep out the riffraff
The Peninsula Hotel, 700 Fifth Ave., at 55th St.; 212-903-3097; newyork.peninsula.com; Mon-Thu, 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat, 5pm-1am, year-round
 
Plunge
Elbow your way into the elevator and travel up to the hip and hellishly crowded Plunge, in the 15th-floor penthouse of the Hotel Gansevoort. You’ll exit directly into the bar area—open when the weather is warm and covered by a glass greenhouse-like structure when it’s rainy or chilly. Plunge will close to the public in the fall of 2004.
The view: Great shots of Lower Manhattan and New Jersey—plus, gawking (or sneering) at the SoHo House’s pool
The menu: basic cocktails start at $14
18 Ninth Ave., at 13th St.; 877-426-7386; hotelgansevoort.com; daily, 11am-2am
 
Rare View
Rare Bar & Grill, the popular hamburger eatery inside the Shelburne, has taken charge of the hotel's roof bar, and they've decked it out with tables and chairs galore, not to mention an elevated bed that's a nod to the languid clubs of South Beach. So far it's paid off: Twentysomething Murray Hillers are already making Rare View a pre-party pitstop. Just don't say we didn't warn you about the bathroom lines.
The view: A 16th-floor bar with outstanding midtown views, including the Empire State and Chrysler buildings
The menu: $13 mango margaritas and blood-orange cosmos, as well as hulking burgers downstairs in the grill
Shelburne Murray Hill, 303 Lexington Ave., at 37th St.; 212-481-1999; Tue-Sat, 4:30pm-midnight, weather permitting
 
Up on the Roof Garden
Roof Garden Cafe
So...if that Andy Goldsworthy sculpture could speak, what do you think it would say? We'll let you puzzle that out, up on the romantic rooftop of the Met, where art, hot Italian tourists, frozen daiquiris, and colossal Central Park views converge into one juggernaut of a drinking experience. If you can't manage a pickup line in a place like this, well then, you're hopeless.
The view: A fifth-floor garden surrounded by the park, its skyline, and sculpture installations that change every summer
The menu: Sparkling wine ($9.75) and ham-and-brie baguettes ($8.25)
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., at 82nd Street; 212-535-7710; metmuseum.org; Sun, Tue-Thu, 10am-4:30pm, Fri-Sat, 10am-8:30pm, through late fall, weather permitting
 
Sun Roof
The jury's out on the Sun Roof: ho-hum roof-top bar or pleasant tippling spot for the budget-conscious? We've figured out a handy way for you to decide: With its greenhouse-style bar, small wooden patio, sports TV, and piped-in reggae music, the Sun Roof actually feels like Florida—but not South Beach, mind you. Fans of the sunshine state, this could be the escape you've been looking for.
The view: A 14th-floor fenced-in patio that feels like it's directly underneath the Empire State building
The menu: $5.50 bottles of Heinekin and Dos Equis ($4, plus $5 well drinks, 4pm-8pm)—but no body shots or wet tee-shirt contests
La Quinta Inn Manhattan, 17 W. 32nd St., between Broadway and Fifth Ave.; 212-736-1391; laquinta.com; Daily, 4pm-midnight, year-round
 
Line 'em up at Sutton Place
The Terrace at Sutton Place Bar and Restaurant
The good news first: Sutton Place has a huge rooftop patio with lots of tables and a long, snaking bar worthy of Club Med. The bad news: It's bland and boring in that East Side sports-guy kind of way. Apparently some people just feel more comfortable in khakis.
The view: A third-floor terrace overlooking Second Avenue
The menu: $10 cockails and generic pub grub
1015 Second Ave., between 53rd and 54th Sts.; 212-207-3777; suttonplacenyc.com; Daily, noon-2am, weather permitting
 
Message Boards
• Have another rooftop favorite? Tip off readers.
 
Updated May 14, 2004