It’s finally that time of year again. The snow has cleared, the thunderstorms are (mostly) gone, and the sunshine seems here to stay. And with the return of shorts, sunglasses and sandals comes the long-awaited reappearance of rooftop bars, where New Yorkers and visitors alike flock to with hopes of nice weather, beautiful views, and of course, delicious drinks. But whether you’re a rooftop regular or are new to drinking at such heights, you won’t want to miss these amazing spots or their spring cocktail offerings.
Ophelia, Midtown East
Seated at the top of the storied Beekman Tower on 49th Street and First Avenue, the newly refurbished cocktail lounge offers a 360-degree greenhouse terrace, expansive windows and indoor space, and a five-star food and drinks menu. More than that, though, Ophelia is coated in rich New York history. Built in 1928, the art deco building, once dubbed the Panhellenic Tower, originally served as a women’s-only hotel for college graduates. When the rooftop space opened to the public in the 1930s, it became the Top of the Tower restaurant and quickly became a mainstay for Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa, among others. After seven decades in business, though, Top of the Tower closed in 2013 and remained vacant until 2018 when Ophelia opened the space’s historic doors once again.
The new bar capitalizes on the Beekman’s vintage 1920s bones and icon reputation, making full use of the venue’s three original iron-paneled windows and calling upon classic design details like red velvet, Bone China blue walls reminiscent of the 1930s, and countless curious artifacts like matchboxes and tarot cards from the 1950s and handwritten notes. Ophelia’s full embrace of the past allows guests to escape the minutiae of the 21st century and instead enter the glitz and glamour of the Beekman Tower during its heyday — with modern luxuries like photo-friendly drinks and experiential mixology, of course.
Ophelia’s new cocktails for spring include both the modern and the mastered. For an updated classic, try the Aegean Paloma, a blend of Ouzo #12, Ketel One Grapefruit-Rose Vodka, pink peppercorn, grapefruit sod and rose water, topped with fresh grapefruit. If it’s history you’re after, order the Beekman 360, which fuses Ketel One vodka with Apostoles gin, Cocchi Americano, yellow chartreuse, suze, allspice, and orange bitters. And if you’re feeling frisky, try the A La Espanola, a gin-based concoction that features strawberries, lemon, rhubarb, juniper berries and tonic.
Ophelia’s drinks are all $20 and under, and it is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday.