Drinks With a View: 5 Best Rooftop Bars

Melanie Haiken
Drinks With a View: 5 Best Rooftop Bars

Want to know the best way to fight the heat? Rise above it -- literally. Honestly, when it's as disgusting out as it's been this summer, a cocktail is the only answer. (Sorry, beer fans, I need to hold a frosty, tinkling glass in my hands.) Not only does a spectacular view take your mind off how sticky you are, but you might even be able to catch a breeze. Here, the 5 best rooftop for chilling with a view.


1. Top of the Strand, New York

Winter or summer, the Top of the Strand's the place to be seen, while truly seeing the city with fresh eyes. Retractable roof panels slide back to reveal the starry sky, looking like a green screen backdrop behind the Empire State Building close enough to throw you olive at. Drink of choice: Martini, desert dry.

2. Summertime Poolside Bar, The Liaison Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Glittering like an '80s-era Hollywood pool party, the rooftop patio at the trendy Liaison, part of the hipster Affinia group,  just started celebrating summer -- and helping locals beat the record heat -- with signature cocktails like the Water Wing (cucumber, lemon and Bacardi) served poolside. Chill with a dip, or come for the "social sunset" which features DJ-ed music and an extravaganza of colorful disco lights. If nightlife isn't your thing, come for the rooftop yoga instead. Downward dog is much more fun with an inspiring view every time you look up.

3. Departure, Portland, Oregon.

Hovering atop the former Meier & Frank department store, repurposed into an elegant hotel known as The Nines,  Departure floats above the rest of the building like a spaceship about to launch. The glass-and-chrome room, housed in a newly added 15th floor, is aptly named, since it's got about as much viewing power as an airport gate. Gaze around the four points of the compass and take in Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens, with Portland in between, while toasting America’s greenest city with the citrus and berry zest of a “Perfect 10.”

4. Mandarin Bar, 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas

Floor-to-ceiling (a very high ceiling, too) windows frame the Strip, receding into the distance like a neon-lit comic book. Other Vegas hotels get more plugs for their views, but the designers of the Mandarin Bar were artists in the way they framed the picture, cutting out the soiled and seedy and leaving just the excitement and promise that epitomizes Vegas. Drinks are pricey, but mixology experts swear they're worth every penny. Drink of choice: Martini again, this time made with herb-infused vodka and accompanied by live jazz.

5. Vertigo Sky Lounge, Chicago

This über-chic rooftop bar at the top of Chicago's Dana Hotel lives up to its name; the views in all directions are indeed dizzying. In fact, skip the SkyDeck and just head here for a highball instead. Trendy to the point of hilarity, it's almost too "in" right now -- the crowds can be downright claustrophobic. But you came for the views, so head for a corner and gaze to your heart's content. Downside: tacky fake grass underfoot. (Not comfortable in sandals.) Upside: gas-fired (non-heating) firepits dance prettily in Chicago's famed winds.