More than a dozen top-notch hotel bars to linger in—before, after, and while the sun sets.
Nicholas James Fochtman
Cities across America have experienced such a boom in rooftop bars in recent years, locals and visitors alike would be forgiven for thinking altitude was the hottest new cocktail ingredient. Crowning the top floors of major and boutique properties alike, elegant sky-high bars have cult appeal in locales as varied as Portland, Oregon (with its Departure Bar, an architectural gem that sits atop the Nines Hotel), and Chicago (where patrons at the new LondonHouse gaze over the city’s iconic riverside buildings). Some rooftop oases—like La Fonda’s Bell Tower Bar in Santa Fe—have such breathtaking sunset views you might forget you’re in a bustling metropolis at all. And the appeal is universal: Residents seek out these vertiginous venues as sanctuaries from street-level hubbub, while tourists appreciate them for their aerial vantage point over landmarks and local goings-on. Either way, it is an undisputed truth that craft cocktails, local microbrews, and flutes of chilled champagne—or frozen drinks topped with champagne, as in Philadelphia’s Assembly—pair beautifully with panoramic cityscapes. These 13 bars, many of which opened or were renovated in the past year, have perfected the two-part pleasure principle of libations-with-a-view. Each gem offers its own particular reminder that getting up above it all is a rare treat. It’s coming down that’s the problem.