While sipping a cocktail under the stars is arguably enjoyable at any establishment, some rooftop bars go beyond typical ‘outdoor boozing’ to deliver a first-class experience. Here is our list of the best alfresco watering holes across the globe.
Where: New York City
Why it’s great: This lush terrace atop the 6 Columbus Hotel near Central Park is only open to guests and private parties, but that’s all the more reason to make a reservation next time you’re in the Big Apple. Patrons can enjoy breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, while the setting is cozy enough to carry on a quiet conversation.
Drink recommendations: Above 6 specializes in Asian-fusion cuisine, and the drink menu reflects this. The Blue Mai Jun combines Blue Ribbon Jun Mai Sake, Hayman’s Old Tom Gin and St. Germain to help you soak up the atmosphere.
Why it’s great: Perched atop the Athens Hilton, patrons can enjoy views of the Parthenon and Acropolis throughout the night – and we mean throughout the night, since it’s open until at least 3 a.m. To complement (or contrast with) the classical Athenian ruins, Galaxy offers a vibrant setting of neon lights and head-thumping Greek dance music.
Drink recommendations: When in Greece, do as the Greeks do and sip on some ouzo, a spirit distilled from anise that resembles a clear version of Jagermeister.
Why it’s great: It’s hard to choose just one rooftop bar in Singapore – CNNGo lists no less than 10 great open-air venues within the city-state. We went with Loof, Singapore’s first such establishment, complete with lush foliage, first-class cuisine, and even a ‘mama shop’, the country’s signature convenience stores that can be found just about everywhere in the city.
Drink recommendations: Loof’s extensive drink menu includes the Ho Chi Mint, a blend of vodka, cucumber, mint leaves and fruit juice, and the Java Ginger Crush, which combines vodka, ginger beer and cloudy apple juice.
Where: Hong Kong
Why it’s great: Located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, this swanky joint overlooks the city’s historic harbor district. The bar is dimly-lit and decorated with trendy-yet-sophisticated embellishments, while the chefs specialize in lip-smacking Cantonese dishes.
Drink recommendations: M Bar offers traditional favorites like the Earl Grey Mar-tea-ni, as well as signature concoctions like the Hong Kong Legend — a fusion of vodka, lychee liqueur and Kuei Hua Chen Chiew (a popular Chinese wine).
Where: Las Vegas
Why it’s great: The lights of the Strip shine brightest from this lavish nightclub on the top floor of the Palms Casino Resort. This is Vegas, so there is a steep cover price of $40, plus a dress code that forbids shorts, flip-flops, ball caps and tanktops. Whatever, you’re in Vegas – splourge a little, and enjoy an unparalleled view of Sin City.
Drink recommendations: Whatever helps you gamble later that night — because you know it’s probably gonna happen.
Where: Cape Town
Why it’s great: Sky Bar is situated atop the Grand Daddy Hotel, considered one of the classiest hotels in Cape Town. The African sunset is something to behold, and Sky Bar patrons can take it all in from the spacious patio littered with comfortable wooden furniture.
Drink recommendations: While guests can choose from a sexy menu of champagne cocktails and craft beers, the hotel is also known for its rare tequila collection – so the “Sky” is the limit. Sorry about that.
Where: Sao Paulo
Why it’s great: Visitors to Hotel Unique in downtown Sao Paulo arrive at this rooftop gem by way of a panoramic elevator that delivers astonishing views of Brazil’s largest city. Breakfast service begins at 7 a.m., and dinner is served until midnight. Did we mention there’s a blood red-lit swimming pool, or that the kitchen is managed by award-winning Chef Emmanuel Bassoleil?
Drink recommendations: Order a caipirinha, Brazil’s signature blend of cachaça (sugar cane-distilled rum), sugar and lime extract. Rumor has it Skye makes one of the best caipirinha in Sao Paulo.
Why it’s great: There are many landmarks to visit in the English capital, and you can catch a glimpse of just about all of them from Vista, which rests atop the Trafalgar Hotel. The edible offerings include lighter fare like smoked salmon bites and figs wrapped in Parma ham, as well as mouth-watering entrees like baked Camembert.
Drink recommendations: Vista is renowned for cocktails that incorporate Pommery champagne. If you don’t do bubbly, then try it’s exact opposite – a blend of Canadian whiskey, cherry wine and chocolate bitters known as ‘Gangster’s Paradise’.
Why it’s great: Frequently cited as simply one of the world’s best bars, Uptown is located on the 24th floor of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. It’s also known as one of Dubai’s most popular meeting places, thanks to its elegant vibe, mouth-watering tapas and panoramic views of the city’s gotta-see-it-to-believe-it skyline.
Drink recommendations: Uptown is renowned for its international wine list, aperitif selection and signature cocktail creations. But if you partake in a little hookah action, then experts say you should stick to non-alcoholic beverages like coffee, tea, fruit juice or milk, which all complement shisha quite nicely.
By Brad Nehring