Hit the Roof: Top 5 Rooftop Bars

By: Gay.com
9.24.2009

Originally published on OutTraveler.com
by Aefa Mulholland

Make the most of those last rays of summer by eking out the evenings at these first-rate open-air bars.

Sometimes having your head in the clouds is a good thing. For overseas sky sipping, we adore 64th-floor Sky Bar at restaurant Sirocco, on top of the Lebua Hotel, Bangkok -- at 65 stories above the chaotic streets below, it’s the rooftop bar with the most altitude; London’s 1.5-acre, Alhambra, English Woodland, and Tudor-themed Roof Gardens on chic Kensington High Street; and Sky Lounge, Hotel Continentale, Florence, which perches atop of the Medieval Torre de Consorti and overlooks the Ponte Vecchio and the river Arno. Nearer home, as summer canters to a close, we’re planning on topping off our night at one of our five favorite North American rooftop bars.

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1. 230 FIFTH, NEW YORK
The sky’s the limit at this lofty, 14,000-square-foot, two-level lounge with its enticing fresh fruit martini list and its breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. Nightlife impresario Steven Greenberg (of Roxy and Paramount fame) has created this tropically themed, palm-confettied oasis above Fifth Avenue, a steamy addition to his rooftop roster, which also includes the gay-adored lounge that crowns The Gansevoort Hotel and the slick boite atop the Library Hotel. When the sun has gone, the palms have been packed up and sent off for a seasonal sojourn in Florida, and winter is on its way, the roof is still the place to go: sit under high-powered heaters sipping something hot and steamy in an oversized red robe.

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2. THE ROOF, THE WIT HOTEL, CHICAGO
Revel in the indoor and outdoor sections of The Roof with its toasty fire pits, handcrafted cocktails, and an Italian-inspired small-plate menu. Situated between the theater district and the river and 27 stories up, the 7,000-square-foot Roof is Chicago’s first rooftop restaurant. For those who crave a truly daring dinner, book “The Hang Over,” a suspended, glass-enclosed table for eight that will make you gulp: it dangles 27 stories above the city streets.

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3. THE SKY YARD, THE DRAKE HOTEL, TORONTO
You’ll be closer to the stars in more ways than one at Toronto’s hipster palace in West Queen West -- or Queer West, as the city’s second gayborhood is sometimes called. The Drake is the slick face of the area and its celebrity-magnet Sky Yard is open year-round, amply equipped with day beds, pillow-laden banquettes, and a backdrop of films projected on the wall. Summer’s addition of a Taco and Tequila Shack gives yet more reason to sashay above street level. Taco Tuesdays provide bargain brews and shots.

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4. TOP OF THE PARK, PARK MANOR SUITES, SAN DIEGO
For an almost all-gay al fresco experience, head up to Top of the Park, the seventh-floor lounge that basks above Park Manor Suites, a gay-popular address in the heart of Hillcrest’s gay goings on. The crowd skews young and gay and is at its most vivacious on Fridays during the gayborhood’s weekly bar tour. Hit the high notes for happy hour from 5 p.m. till 10 p.m.

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5. BLUE SUNSET, BLUE CHAIRS RESORT, PUERTO VALLARTA
Blue Sunset’s go-go boys and drag shows provide decorative distraction from the glorious ocean views. Call in for two-for-one drink specials at the rooftop resto-bar and watch the sun sink into the Pacific before heading off to other homo hot spots nearby.

Images: Getty Images and Aefa Mulholland

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