The World's Highest Bars: Why Cocktails Are Better in the Clouds

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Bar 54 soars 54 flights above New York City. (Courtesy: Times Square Hyatt)

There is something special about sipping a cold martini a quarter of a mile above the ground. Maybe it’s the way the unobstructed 360-degree views help you forget your drink just cost $20. And with buildings getting taller and taller these days, it seems there is no limit to how high our imbibing might go. Just this month in New York City, the Hyatt Times Square opened the Big Apple’s tallest new watering hole: Bar 54. “It feels like you are on top of the world,” says the hotel’s general manager Richard Morgan. “Coming up to the 54th floor allows guests to remove themselves from the hustle of New York City. It is an incredible feeling.”

Here, some of the tallest bars on earth.

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At At.mosphere you can expect spectacular Dubai vistas. (Courtesy: At.mosphere)

Highest Bar in the World

If sheer height is your goal, you can’t go any higher than the bar at the world’s tallest building: the 165-floor Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. Two floors down from the observation deck, on the 122nd floor, lies At.mosphere, a sprawling 3,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge. The stiff drinks at this Guinness World Record holder won’t be the only things making you feel woozy at this height, 1,384 feet off the ground. Sure the lounge is cozy, with its plush chairs and polished wood interiors, but you’ll hardly notice anything besides the view—best enjoyed during the lounge’s sunset-timed High Tea.

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Bangkok’s Sky Bar, the place to take in the Bangkok cityscape. (Photo: Steve Jurvetson)

Highest Outdoor Bar in the World

This picturesque 820-foot-high Sky Bar on the 63rd floor of Bangkok’s towering Lebua Hotel looks like something out of a dream. From its perch at the edge of Sirocco restaurant, the color-changing oasis gives the feeling of floating on the Bangkok skyline. Grab a seat at the circular bar and sample one of celebrated mixologist Ron Ramirez’s signature cocktails—like the Hangovertini, a drink inspired by the R-rated sequel that was shot here.

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Gong, in London's towering new Shangri-La Hotel. (Courtesy: Shangri-La Hotel)

Highest Bar in Europe

One of the newest editions to London’s skyline is the Shard, and as of May 19 it will be home to Continent’s highest bar, Gong. Near the top of the pyramid-shaped tower, on the 52nd floor of the swank Shangri-La Hotel, this Asian-themed champagne bar was designed by Hong Kong’s wizard of style, André Fu. Don’t miss a peek at the hotel’s swimming pool with a view, around the corner from the bar.

Highest Bar in the US

At America’s loftiest bar, the Signature Lounge, the drink to order is a Sidecar—a cocktail as classic as the space itself, in Chicago’s John Hancock Center. Take in the panoramas of the Windy City, 1,000 feet above Lake Michigan. It’ll hold you over until One World Trade and its sky-high restaurant (said to be 250 feet higher than the Signature Lounge) are complete next year.

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When in the Windy City have a Sidecar 1,000 feet above Lake Michigan. (Photo: Lobstar28)

Highest Bar in Canada

Atop Canada’s most iconic structure, Toronto’s CN Tower, lies the revolving 360. The bar prides itself on its extensive wine list—550 different selections, to be exact. But if you’re worried about wine spoiling at 1,122 feet, don’t fret: 360 is also home to the world’s highest wine cellar. And you might want a glass—or two—if you’re going to brave the tower’s glass-floor observatory.

Benjamin Solomon is a writer and editor based in New York City. He was most recently the Editor-in-Chief of Next Magazine. He has contributed to VanityFair.com, Travel + Leisure, and New York. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @benjaminsolomon.