We’re spinning from the vertigo—or was that one too many?
Head to the stratosphere for some of the world’s most intoxicating cocktails. From illuminated city skylines in Shanghai and Madrid to the serene horizons of Punta de Mita, Curaçao and beyond, these 20 rooftop and terrace bars are the ultimate Instagram-worthy spots to take in the sights while enjoying globally inspired mixology.
The Bar, Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
WHERE: Tokyo, Japan
Top Shelf Tip: At more than 200 bottles, The Bar’s whisky collection is as soaring as its city views. A Japanese whisky flight offers samples of Yamazaki 12-year, Hakushu 12-year, and Hibiki 17-year, or if you’re homesick, opt for the Ritz-Carlton Manhattan made with American bourbon, sweet vermouth, and house bitters.
On the Ground: Culture abounds within striking distance of The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, including the Suntory Museum of Art (located within the same building) and 21_21 Design Sight, an ever-changing multi-gallery space that intersects design with shifting commentaries on contemporary society.
Skybar, Mondrian Los Angeles
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
Top Shelf Tip: It’s all in the timing at this West Hollywood hotspot. Catch some rays with other hotel guests until 1 p.m., but then prepare for the paparazzi-prone as the sun sets. Sundays give way to DJ-driven “XIV Summer Sessions” through September. No matter what time of day, the BLVD is the drink of choice with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Luxardo Maraschino, Fruitlab Hops Liqueur, and fresh pineapple juice.
On the Ground: Step up your game with a new pair of shoes from Christian Louboutin’s West Hollywood boutique.
WHERE: Punta de Mita, Mexico
Top Shelf Tip: Owner Juan Mario Sahagun traversed Imanta’s 250 acres for more than a year before settling on the exact location for his luxury eco-resort. At its peak is the “Observatorio,” an open-air bar with plunge pool and soaring views of the Pacific. Enjoy mezcal-inspired cocktails or private label wines.
On the Ground: The Jungle Spa is the ideal spot to unwind under the shade of towering palms. The open-air treatments draw inspiration from ancient Aztec traditions and feature essential oils, herbs, and other locally sourced products.
Top of the East, Westin Portland Harborview
WHERE: Portland, Maine
Top Shelf Tip: Located on the top floor of the Westin Portland Harborview, Top of the East has been a nightlife mainstay for more than 50 years throughout the properties various incarnations. But its Maine’s craft beer craze that can be most appreciated these days, with plenty of local options including Baxter Brewing Co., Hidden Cove, and Atlantic Brewing Company, just to name a few.
On the Ground: After all that beer, a good slice is in order, and there’s nowhere better to turn than Otto Pizza’s signature mashed potato, bacon, and scallion pie.
Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room
WHERE: New York City, New York
Top Shelf Tip: Who knows who you might run into as you ascend to the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center where the glass-enclosed cocktail lounge and surrounding terrace will put you up close and personal with the Empire State Building and other New York City landmarks. Toast with the 1915 Gin & Tonic, a tribute to one of the city’s most famous wordsmiths, Dorothy Parker.
On the Ground: While the Met and MoMA often dominate first-timers’ museum visits, consider sidetracking to the Museum of Arts and Design at nearby Columbus Circle, which re-examines the creative process through a variety of mediums and exhibitions.
Sky Bar, AC Hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen
WHERE: Copenhagen, Denmark
Top Shelf Tip: Located on the 23rd floor of Scandinavia’s largest hotel, Sky Bar’s drama matches the property’s dramatic exterior, which can sway more than a foot in windy weather. All the more reason to grab a glass of stiff glass of aquavit and snack on the traditional Danish “smørrebrød”—open-faced sandwiches layered with local favorites like herring and cured meats.
On the Ground: A visit to Copenhagen isn’t complete without a Nordic style makeover, and there’s no better place for fashion, accessories, and splurge-worthy trinkets than Storm, where highly curated collections await.
Onyx Bar, DO & CO Hotel
WHERE: Vienna, Austria
Top Shelf Tip: Serenity reigns supreme at this stylish 6th floor lounge with views of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Specialty cocktails abound, but drink like a local by enjoy a glass of Zweigelt, Austrian’s muscular red wine that rarely makes it the U.S.
On the Ground: There are plenty of spots to experience Vienna’s high-octane coffee culture, and while quaint traditional coffeehouses are around nearly every corner, seek out kaffemik in the Seventh District for a rotating roster of guest roasters and chic, minimalist surroundings.
Flair Rooftop Restaurant and Bar, Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong
WHERE: Shanghai, China
Top Shelf Tip: With spectacular views of The Bund pedestrian walkway and Shanghai’s endless skyline, Flair lives up to its name with the city’s highest outdoor seating. Drinks are tropical (and plentiful) but be sure to take note of its unique design by Japan’s Super Potato, featuring mud walls and oya stone.
On the Ground: The view from Flair’s 58th floor will only entice on-the-ground exploration—particularly Shanghai’s stunning collection of Art Deco architecture. There’s no better guide than writer/architect/historian Spencer Dodington, an ex-pat who’s lived in Shanghai for more than 20 years and authored several books on the subject.
Hot Tin, Ponchartrain Hotel
WHERE: New Orleans, Louisiana
Top Shelf Tip: The Ponchartrain’s literary history is captured on its 11th floor, which pays homage to Tennessee Williams, who is said to have finished Cat on a Hot Tin Roof while staying there. It’s unfortunate that he couldn’t partake of the current bar’s whimsical Pineapple Upside-Down Daiq, which combines Plantation pineapple rum, Luxardo cherry brandy, cinnamon simple syrup, lime, and bitters.
On the Ground: Po’ boys and oysters abound, but one of New Orleans’ most coveted restaurants is within a stone’s throw of Hot Tin. Scurry to chef Alon Shaya’s namesake restaurant in the heart of the Garden District where the waft of freshly baked pita, crispy falafel and smoky kababs permeates the air.
WHERE: Coral Estate, Curaçao
Top Shelf Tip: A rooftop bar and an infinity pool? Dreams really do come true at Koraal, the new rooftop terrace at Karakter, a popular beach side restaurant in Curaçao’s Coral Estate Villa Park. Bubbly will sparkle under the moonlight so go for the Koraal Spritz, made from elderflower liqueur, rosé prosecco, and lychee.
On the Ground: For a deeper understanding and perspective of Curaçao’s complex history, a visit to the Kurá Hulanda is a must. Privately funded by Dutch businessman Jacob Gelt Dekker, the museum delves into the island’s slave trade with an extensive and harrowing collection of artifacts.
Círulo de Bellas Artes
WHERE: Madrid, Spain
Top Shelf Tip: This stunning building designed by architect Antonio Palacio was completed in 1926 and has long been an epicenter for culture and art. The seventh floor terrace offers 360-degree city views, best enjoyed with “tinto de verano,” Spain’s simplified version of sangria.
On the Ground: Take a bite out of local culture with Devour Madrid, which offers off-the-beaten-path culinary walking tours to sample patatas fritatas (potato chips), cheesecake made with Galician cheese from northwestern Spain, and other delicacies.
RoofTop Bar at The Poli House
WHERE: Tel Aviv, Israel
Top Shelf Tip: Originally built in 1934, this Bauhaus-style building now pops with color and delivers plenty of wow factor before even reaching its RoofTop Bar, which offers an array of premium cocktails and plays hosts to local DJs. Don’t forget a swimsuit to take a dip in the rooftop pool.
On the Ground: Israel is considered one of the gay-friendliest countries in the Middle East. Those wanting to take advantage of its welcoming LGBT attitude should look no further than OUTstanding Travel for a day trip to the Dead Sea, explorations in Western Galilee, and special Pride itineraries.
Apothecary Lounge, Hotel Parq Central
WHERE: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Top Shelf Tip: A befitting name for a hotel bar that was once a psychiatric hospital, the Apothecary Lounge is the ideal spot to take in New Mexico’s vivid sunset and enjoy seasonal craft cocktails like The Chemist, made with Pimm’s blackberry and elderberry liqueur, lemon bitters, and bubbly.
On the Ground: Catch a movie or performance at the KiMo Theatre. Built in 1927, it’s one of the rare remaining examples of Pueblo-deco architecture and now screens classic films and hosts readings and concerts.
Heaven’s Nest at Clouds
WHERE: Hamburg, Germany
Top Shelf Tip: Occupying the top floor and roof of architect Hadi Teherani’s stunning Tanzende Türme (“Dancing Towers”), Clouds (the restaurant and bar) and Heaven’s Nest (rooftop terrace) deliver stunning views of Spielbudenplatz, the River elbe, and St. Michael’s Church.
On the Ground: Before The Beatles became international sensations, they played Hamburg. Go behind the scenes with Stefanie Hempel’s Beatles Tour through St. Pauli as she recounts The Fab Four’s early years and plays a few favorites along the way on her ukulele.
Skyfall Lounge, Delano
WHERE: Las Vegas, Nevada
Top Shelf Tip: For one of Las Vegas’s best-kept secrets, head to Skyfall Lounge on the top floor of the Delano for happy hour (5 p.m. – 7 p.m.) to enjoy $5 bar bites. Innovative cocktails include the Artificial Horizon made with Alain Ducasse’s namesake champagne, Bacardi 8-year rum, and Clear Creek pear liqueur.
On the Ground: With all of the money saved on cocktails, head to The Shops at Crystals for high-end retailers like Tom Ford, Cartier, Prada, and the largest Louis Vuitton store in North America.
VISIT Sky Bar, Hotel Pulitzer
WHERE: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Top Shelf Tip: From sunsets to revelry that carries into the early hours of the morning, the Hotel Pulitzer’s 13th floor terrace offers a seasonally changing menu of artisan cocktails (don’t miss out on the Watermelon Collins) and a roster of live music that ranges from bossa nova and jazz to soul, disco and electro-funk.
On the Ground: Speakeasies extend beyond cocktail lounges in Buenos Aires. Hidden restaurants and pop-ups haves have emerged around the city in increasing numbers since Argentina’s 2001 financial crisis. Discover Masa’s modern riffs on South American cuisine such as venison tacos with wild mushrooms and mole popsicles.
Cloud 23, Beetham Tower
WHERE: Manchester, England
Top Shelf Tip: Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal Manchester’s industrial skyline, but it’s Cloud 23’s seating areas, named after Greek gods, that set the stage for masterful cocktails, including Up Up and Away, dubbed the UK’s first “floating cocktail” made with Ron Zacapa 23 rum, Grand Marnier, marmalade, orange rooibos tea, and fresh juice.
On the Ground: One of the most diverse arts festivals in the world, the Manchester International Festival’s bi-annual gathering brings together groundbreaking arts from the worlds of dance, music, theater, visual arts, and more.
SkyLounge, DoubleTree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station
WHERE: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Top Shelf Tip: Just steps from the city’s main railway hub, SkyLounge offers serene respite from the bustling streets below. The Purple Sunset (Tanqueray gin, violet liqueur, Monin cinnamon syrup, and Fever-Tree sparkling lemonade) is the perfect late afternoon sipper, best enjoyed with platter of charcuterie and fresh breads from favorite bakery Vlaamsch Broodhuys.
On the Ground: Post-Impressionism at its most vivid comes to live at the Van Gogh Museum, which not only showcases the 19th-century artist but also contemporaries and those influenced by his work. Be sure to utilize the multimedia guide, which won a Dutch Design Award for its innovation.
8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen, Hilton Garden Inn
WHERE: Louisville, Kentucky
Top Shelf Tip: Overlooking the Ohio River, 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen’s cocktail menu pays tribute to bourbon country with drinks like the New Fashion, made with Weller 107 Barrel Select, Bitter Truth root and creole bitters, Bittercube’s orange bitters, and maple syrup. Executive chef Casper Van Drongelen’s international flair shines with bar bites including short rib empanadas and Moroccan lamb sliders.
On the Ground: Explore Nulu, one of Louisville’s up and coming neighborhoods, with some great eats at Royals Hot Chicken and Scout, a terrific home goods store overflowing with beautifully curated décor.
Gravity Bar, Guinness Storehouse
WHERE: Dublin, Ireland
Top Shelf Tip: Fans of the Irish stout with its signature malty finish and creamy head should look no further than the seventh-floor Gravity Bar at the brand’s flagship storehouse to sample the beer while taking in 360-degree views of Dublin. Superfans can attend Guinness Academy to learn how to pour the perfect pint.
On the Ground: Experience afternoon tea unlike any other at the Merrion Hotel, where its legendary collection of 19th- and 20th-century art serves as inspiration for cakes and pastries. Hotel patrons can also experience the 90-work collection with a docent tour.