The Best Outdoor Bars in Brooklyn
August in NYC means trips to Jacob Riis beach, picnics in Central Park, and a whole lot of outdoor drinking. Yes, Manhattan has its trendy hotel rooftops and harborside verandas, but Brooklyn proves a more-than-worthy contender. From rooftop vineyards and fake-beach beer halls to enchanted cocktail gardens and booze-serving barges, these are the best alfresco bars in Brooklyn.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
Summerly at The Hoxton
Can’t make it to Martha’s Vineyard anytime soon? Summerly—The Hoxton’s rooftop bar—pulls off its best East Coast imitation. Veteran restaurateurs Jud Mongell (Five Leaves) and Zeb Stewart (Cafe Collete, Hotel Demano, Union Pool) keep the food and drink menus on-point, with a suite of coastal offerings from crab cakes and lobster rolls to negroni spritzes and watermelon collins. Of course, the experience doesn’t stop there; Summerly’s breezy design—think floral and brass upholstered bar stools, plush Manhattan-facing sofas, and atmospheric string lights—make for a more-than-inviting space.
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The Rooftop at Time Out Market
Heading out with friends and can’t decide between a mezcal bar or beer hall? At Dumbo’s 21,000-square-foot Time Out Market—curated by Time Out New York’seditorial team—you’ll find a little bit of everything. Grab thin crust pizza from Juliana’s, Thai seafood from Fish Cheeks, some Southern comfort food from Jacob’s Pickles, or one the many dishes from 21 different food stalls, and then make a beeline for the rooftop. The mid-century modern space is awash in caramel leather banquettes and outside, the open terrace delivers million-dollar views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline. The drink options aren’t too shabby, either; the rooftop’s rotating cocktail menu comes courtesy of Angel’s Share and Ghost Donkey head bartenders Takuma Watanabe and Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Jimenez.
Sure, you can always take a weekend trip to wineries in the Finger Lakes, but why do that when you can stay in the city? Rooftop Reds—“the world’s first commercially viable rooftop vineyard”—sprawls out atop a 14,800-square-foot rooftop in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, affording visitors incredible views of downtown BK. The new spot is reservation only, but once you’ve secured a date, you can drop by anytime for glasses of cabernet franc rosé and sauvignon blanc, as well as hammocks, cornhole, and picnic tables. Movie nights and wine and cheese pairings are also regular occurrences, so check the event schedule before you go.
Brooklyn Beer Garden, Bushwick
Leave it to a Bushwick beer garden to construct their own urban beach, right? Just off the Jefferson L, this 10,000-square-foot venue greets beer-guzzling patrons with a backyard beach that’s overseen by lifeguards Bob Marley and Queen Bey—in Baywatch-esque mural form, of course. Once you drink in that sight (and take more than a few photos), there’s plenty more to see as the beer garden is covered wall-to-wall in pieces by local artists. Hit the 30-foot beach bar for a (cash-only) Pampelonne Rosé Lime or Montauk Summer Ale and then check out the rest of the art.
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Post-industrial Bushwick is heavy on converted warehouses, but it’s not often that you turn a corner and come face to face with a greenery-strewn pergola. Forrest Point is a breath of rustic air in the urban borough. All-day cocktails—like the Big Green Tractor (peanut-infused bourbon, sea salt, lime, Meletti, Coke, boozy peanut brittle)—stray playfully far the classics, while food is par for the comfort course with buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches and Pat la Frieda cast-iron burgers.
Over Williamsburg’s “it” spots? Head to South Slope’s Greenwood Park—a 13,000-square-foot beer garden that spills out of a converted gas station/mechanic shop and into an outdoor patio with bocce ball courts. Between the indoor and outdoor bars, 60 draft beer lines dispense craft, local, and international brews; if you’re not into lagers or stouts, no worries—sangria, cider, and frosé are all there as well. Need some pub grub to soak up your spoils? Lamb burgers, soft pretzels, and BBQ pulled pork mac and cheese are all up for the job.
Alfresco drinking is a revered New York pastime, and at Greenpoint’s seasonal Brooklyn Barge, you’ll find crowds doing just that. Climb aboard the docked vessel—just next to Transmitter Park—and crack open a menu to peruse food options like Maine lobster rolls and vegan chorizo tacos, as well as summery cocktails like the passion fruit margarita. Once you’ve filled up, you can also check to see if the barge is hosting any events. Past educational programming has included scuba classes, catch-and-release fishing, sailing lessons, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Westlight at The William Vale
Williamsburg basically has a monopoly on rooftop bars in Brooklyn, but the William Vale’s Westlight proves why. Twenty-two stories above ground, a barely-there plexiglass barrier is all that separates patrons from 360-degree views of Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Once you’ve got an Aperol spritz in hand, sprawl out on one of Westlight’s muted yellow couches, or wait to use one of the (free) mounted binoculars to zoom in on your borough of choice. Yes, the vibe is decidedly non-Brooklyn (hello, Manhattanites and $18 cocktails), but the panoramas are unparalleled.
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A brooding, hotel-inspired oyster house/cocktail den, Maison Premiere overflows with fleur-de-lis walls, bartenders in three-piece suits, and the largest selection of absinthe in the city. Given the Parisian atmosphere, it should come as no surprise that the venue extends outside to a lush garden. A wisteria-laced arbor shades iron bistro tables where brunch-goers and late-night revelers can sip on absinthe-forward cocktails and enjoy tableside sazerac service.
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Williamsburg’s waterfront Domino Park was unveiled to much fanfare last summer, revealing an esplanade, bocce courts, and playground to start. Of course, you can’t have an 11-acre recreational space without food and drink. Enter Tacocina: a counter-service Mexican spot from Danny Meyer—the hospitality guru behind Shake Shack. At the helm of the operation is chef Barbara Garcia, a native of Aguascalientes, Mexico. She oversees a menu of chicken tinga tacos, elotes, and chips and guac. Alcohol is also involved, obviously, with strawberry margarita floats, Palomas, and Micheladas all on offer. The lines are long, so have someone in your group hold down a picnic table while you order.
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Look, living in NYC—or visiting, for that matter—ain’t cheap. That’s why we appreciate free food whenever/wherever we can find it. At Bushwick’s Fine Time, a drink purchase also affords you a complimentary hot dog and popcorn (straight from the machine and seasoned with Old Bay, if you like!). Thankfully, drinks won’t run you out of house and home, either. Frozen margs—mango, peach, watermelon, you name it—are just $8, most draft beers and ciders are $7, and if you’re feeling particularly classy (as we always are), a pitcher of Bud Light is $11. After securing your poison of choice, hit the brick-walled patio for conversation under the string lights.
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A hodgepodge of candle-lit bistro sets, worn-in sofas, and trunk coffee tables fill out FourFiveSix’s generous patio space in East Williamsburg. Here, a menu of light Italian bites includes meat and cheese plates, crostinis, and focaccia of the day, while wine pairings are served by the glass and bottle. Drop by on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday for a variety of music events from live jazz to R&B DJ sets.
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