New York Mag says it’s Miami on the Hudson, while the venue on its website describes itself as Plam Springs inspired. I am just gonna call it as I see it, which is just plain tacky. It is like the 230 Fifth of the Westside; a rooftop garden with a nice view, a cheesy lounge downstairs, a sleazy doorman, bored waitresses in skimpy dresses and long lines after 1o pm. And hell, here the view is only nice if you look west towards the water (the aircraft carrier Intrepid is docked right bellow). If you must go, do it prior to 8, which is when the happy hour ends and before the crowd regulars have crossed over the Lincoln Tunnel.
Happy Hour: Tue-Fri, 5pm-10pm; 2 for 1 speciality drinks and Bud Lights
Hours: Tue-Fri, 5pm-4am; Sat 9pm-4am; Sun, 2pm-9pm (brunch)
621 West 46th st nr. Eleventh Ave. 212-315-9400
This technically isn’t a rooftop bar. But the approx. 6th floor view of the Great White Way is still pretty cool (aka the stretch of Broadway in Times Square, once you see the lights from afar, you’ll understand why they call it that). And what the Novotel hotel lacks in character, barman/server/host Kresc makes up for with a friendly and chatty disposition. (He still won’t tell me the story behind is name though) Always in a good mood, Kresc also makes some really yummy fruity cocktails. Most of which are his proud inventions. There is also an indoors area for the colder months.
Cocktail: Chupa Chupa: rum, mango juice, Triple Sec and peach Snaps
Hours: Daily, noon-midnight
226 W. 52nd St., nr. Broadway, NY 10019 212-315-0100
This 14th-floor roof deck is good time if you don’t mind office workers. The view is one of the best of the Empire State Building. The place is neither too fancy or trashy, it is just average, which can be just right at times, especially if you come with a large group. Half the place has tables that you can only sit at, if each person consumes $20. Did I mention there is ok food and wheat beer?
Hours: Apr-Nov: Daily, 5:30pm-11:30pm; Dec-Mar: Daily, closed
45 W. 35th St., 14th fl, nr. Sixth Ave., NY 10001 212-279-3535
In 1929 Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns purchased a house on West 52nd Street and opened the ’21’ Club. Soon afterward it becomes the epicenter of New York’s social life. So much so, that in 1930 Daily Mirror gossip columnist Walter Winchell (the inspiration for the “Sweet Smell of Success” character J.J. Hunsecker) is banned from ‘21’. As retribution, he runs a column noting that ‘21’ had never been raided by Prohibition agents. The next day, ’21’ is raided. Soon thereafter, Jack and Charlie hire architect Frank Buchanan to install a complex system to hide and destroy liquor in case of future raids, including the infamous ‘21’ Wine Cellar. 52nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is nicknamed “Swing Street” and is home to over 30 speakeasies. December 5, 1933: Prohibition is repealed. 1944: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall celebrate their first date at Table 30. They first work together in “To Have and Have Not”, written by another ’21’ regular, Ernest Hemingway (who was caught doing the nasty with gangster Legs Diamond’s girlfriend in the ’21’ kitchen in 1931). Notable writers frequenting ’21’ at the time include Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Lillian Hellman. ’21’ becomes THE place to be seen. Hollywood and ’21’ fully engage in a mutualistic relationship, feeding off each other (literally). Scenes for the classic films “All About Eve” and “The Sweet Smell of Success” are filmed in the bar room and countless other films mention ’21’. In fact more movies mention ’21’ than any other restaurant en NYC. Every President since FDR has been a guest of ’21’ with one exception: George W. Bush (I’m liking this place more and more). In contrast, JFK dined at ’21’ on the eve of his inauguration. In 1980 ’21’ spawns the power lunch. Forbes says “more deals are done at ’21’ than on the stock market floor.” Part of the movie “Wall Street” is filmed in the restaurant.
As for the 2 decorative stand out features of the 21 club: the jockeys and the toys: Jockeys: 21′ was home to the affluent ‘horsy’ set as far back as the early 1930s. To impart their personal stamp, many breeders began donating jockeys as symbols of their private horse farms. Today, many of the brightly painted jockey figures represent the country’s most prominent stables. It all began with Delaware native Jay Van Urk, such a loyal patron that he had, in fact, his own private table and the distinction of having a ’21’ dessert named in his honor. as for the Toys that hang from the ceiling: Perhaps the most poignant item in the collection is a model of the PT-109, presented as a gift to ’21’ by John F. Kennedy. ’21’ has such a large collection of sporting souvenirs that the Bar Room is a virtual Hall of Fame. Diners can view the helmets of football legends Frank Gifford and John Riggins, rackets of tennis stars Chris Evert and John McEnroe, Katarina Witt’s figure skates, a golf club that once belonged to Jack Nicklaus, and baseball bats from fabled heroes Willie Mays and Joe Morgan.
That pretty much sums it up, but if you ask the very chatty bathroom attendant I am sure she would be happy to elaborate.
Its the ’21’ pricey? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! (but you might want to wait to restaurant week when a pre fix dinner is $35 or just come for a drink at the bar)
Dress Code: Strictly no sneakers, shorts or jeans. Jackets are necessary for gentlemen, with ties preferred at dinner.
Hours Mon-Fri, 11:30am-10pm; Sat, 5pm-11pm; Sun, closed
21 W. 52nd St., nr. Fifth Ave., NY 10019 212-582-1400
On top of the Water Club restaurant, the Crow’s Nest has one o the bests views of the East River. (There are next to none waterfront bars on the east side) While the restaurant is a bit stuffy, the bottom bar is nicely and classically laid out with a fireplace and a even a piano. But it is the top part, which looks like the upper deck of a cruise ship, that makes the trek under the FDR so worth it (you have to cross through 34 st). This is a little hidden gem that fortunately never gets overcrowded. There is bar food too. The fries are really good.
Hours: Memorial Day to early October: Mon-Tue, 5pm-midnight; Wed-Thu, 4pm-midnight; Fri-Sun, noon-midnight
500 E. 30th St., nr. FDR Dr., NY 10016 212-683-3333
Lounge/bar named after a Shanghai socialite of the 1930ts who loved to host parties: Madam Ning. Probably madam’s parties were better, but I doubt she ever had such a view. Perched on the rooftop of the fancy pants Peninsula hotel, this place is much classier than any trendy velvet ropes club. And if the 23rd floor view doesn’t give you a nosebleed the prices will. I cocktail costs $22 while a beer will set you back $16. So make sure you get that beer with the complimentary peanuts and a glass of water, so you can take in the scene without them taking you for all your paycheck. There is a small glass enclosure for rainy and cold winter days.
Hours May-Sep: Mon-Wed, 4pm-midnight; Thu-Sat, 4pm-1am; Sun, closed; Oct-Apr: Mon-Thu, 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat, 5pm-1am; Sun, closed
700 Fifth Ave., 23rd fl, at 55th St., NY 10019 212-956-2888
Ever since members of the Russian Imperial Ballet founded the restaurant in 1927, it became a second home for Russian and Polish expats, the intellectual elite and the high society. Its long running slogan is: “Six minutes and twenty-three seconds from Lincoln Center and slightly to the left of Carnegie Hall”. The food may not be as awesome as the interior, but the brunch is surprisingly affordable and makes for a marvelous time on a Sunday morning. (the croissants are to die for!) A lot of history has happened in its exquisite red and gold interior: Scenes from Manhattan, The Turning Point, Tootsie and New York Stories, were filmed at the restaurant. And in 1972, Madonna worked there, as a coat-check clerk. Even my family has history here:
My grandmother´s uncle had a Russian sweetheart back in Lithuania. They lost contact due to the war. He moved to New York to escape the Nazis. One fine day he walked into the Russian Tea Room. and out of all the Russian establishments in the world, who was there but no other than the one woman he never forgot. (Just like Casablanca, with Nazis and everything!) They were married soon afterwards.
Friday from 5pm – 7pm is Vodka Hour. A flight of vodka – tasting of three – for $14
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun, 11am-3pm and 5pm-10pm
150 W. 57th St., nr. Seventh Ave. NY, 10019 212-333-2970