Just when winter seems endless (particularly this year), those gorgeous spring days arrive, bringing picturesque cherry blossoms, crisp breezes, and warm sunshine that melts our hardened New York hearts. It’s a much-needed reminder of why we live here.
The new season is reason enough to spend an entire day outside, celebrating this fine spring weather (and the hiatus of winter coats and too-comfortable sweatpants). Luckily, the Big Apple is ripe with outdoor watering holes, whether it’s a misfit-looking backyard, glamorous rooftop, or part of the High Line. Here’s a list of some tried-and-true standbys and notable newbies to the scene.
Pushing past the touristy Eataly crowds requires a certain tenacity and endurance, yet the victorious who make it to Birreria, Eataly’s rooftop bar, can attest it’s worth the fight. Birreria’s retractable roof provides partial panoramic views of the Flatiron Building and Empire State Building when opened, and the fans help facilitate the breeze. This place boasts a stellar beer selection, from it’s own house-brewed cask ale to 10 drafts and nearly 40 bottled well-rounded varieties, but for the anti-beer crowd — do they exist? — it also offers about a dozen wines by the glass (try the rosé prosecco).
Our newest way to waste a lovely afternoon? Relaxing on the Rooftop Lounge at Pod 39. This open-roof brick structure lacks walls (disclaimer: this space is NOT for acrophobes), which offers gorgeous, wide-open views of the skyline and spectacular views of the sunset. Transport drinks from the lobby until the rooftop bar officially opens at 5 p.m., when you can order cocktails such as the Petaluma Punch (strawberry-infused rum, serrano-IPA syrup and lime juice) or a Salvation Michelada with house-made chipotle hot sauce. Nosh on gazpacho blanco, Mexican sticky rice, and other snacks provided by Salvation Taco, the latest April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman venture located in the hotel’s lobby.
To do more for the environment, frequent Habana Outpost in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. Relying on solar panels to operate, this eco-friendly locale is open solely from April through October, and Brooklynites take full advantage of the spot once that warm weather hits. On Sundays, snag a seat at a picnic table and jam to the live DJ playing feel-good tunes by Janet Jackson, Sheila E., and KC and the Sunshine Band while sipping on a morita (a fusion of a frozen margarita and mojito). And, never skip the elote — a Mexican version of corn on the cob covered in mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime — but the Cuban sandwich is decent, too. Stick around after sunset for movie night: Held every Sunday at 8 p.m., a projector shows a flick on the large building wall. This week’s feature is Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Don’t be fooled by the name: the Bushwick Country Club is anything but polo shirts and boat shoes. Instead, the dive bar is filled with an expected East Williamsburg (yes, the name even misleads the location) crowd of twenty-somethings garbed in vintage tees and worn jeans, sipping on the spot’s specialty slushies — Jim Beam and coke and homemade sweet tea and vodka—and lingering in the backyard space outfitted with a makeshift, miniature golf course complete with a Pabst windmill. Opt for a beer and shot special or throw back a spicy Pickleback served with McClure’s pickle brine.
Yearning for a place to spend a sunny day without spending all that hard-earned dough? We suggest the Gowanus Yacht Club. We know, we know: That’s so far. But, really, it’s not; it’s directly off the Carroll Street stop on the F and G trains. Filled with mismatched seating from metal benches (think little league games) and wooden folding chairs, the tight space creates a familial backyard feel. Its stellar beer specials are worth it, with two-for-$5 deals on canned beers (Rolling Rock, Lionhead Pilsner, Little Kings, and more), as well as eight draft beers between $5 and $6 ($15 to $22 for pitchers). Even after a few rounds, there’s still ample cash leftover for a $2 beef hot dog (turkey and tofu also available), perfectly char-grilled and topped with all the fixings, or a $5 burger.
And, because you’re already in Gowanus, stop into Lavender Lake. While Yacht Club seems to cater to a single crowd, this bar’s spacious wooden deck seems to attract larger groups and families with young children that sit on the steps of its sunken-in deck. (Even in winter, the patio is wonderfully warmed with a fire pit.) While basking in the sunshine, enjoy one of the house cocktails such as River’s Edge, made with gin, lemon, grapefruit bitters, and lavender syrup. One guest claims, "It’s magic in my mouth."