Eight New Rooftop Bars for Summer

Does a cocktail taste better when it’s served six stories up?

Photo: Courtesy of The Restoration

Does a cocktail taste better when it’s served six stories up? That’s debatable. What’s not is the alluring combination of booze, a birds-eye view, and a nice cooling breeze. No wonder rooftop bars are booming. Here are five of the South’s hottest new sky-high establishments:

The Watch
Charleston, South Carolina

When a city has a skyline like Charleston—buildings can’t be taller than the church steeples—it shouldn’t come as a surprise that rooftop bars have become popular in the Holy City. And when the Restoration hotel, located on the corner of King and Wentworth streets, reopened earlier this year, it added its own. A seat at the outdoor portion of the Watch restaurant and bar offers perhaps the prettiest rooftop perch in town—depending on where you sit you can see both the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Use of the rooftop pool is exclusively reserved for guests, though.

The Roof at the Durham 
Durham, North Carolina

Perched on the sixth floor of the Bull City’s landmark Home Savings Bank building—lavishly retooled as a boutique hotel last year—the rooftop bar at the Durham Hotel shows off the culinary acumen of James Beard Award-winning chef Andrea Reusing, who manages the food and beverage program for the entire hotel. Sample casual North Carolina-tinged dishes like picnic eggs with smoked fish and Tar Heel trout roe while soaking in the scenery.

New Orleans, Louisiana

A shady spot under a tree on a hot summer day with an ice-cold cocktail in hand is fairly hard to beat. Unless, of course, you put that tree and that cocktail on a roof in New Orleans and add a swimming pool and a restaurant backed by two James Beard Award-nominated chefs. And that’s exactly what they’ve done at Alto, the new rooftop garden at Ace Hotel New Orleans. Order the Frozen Purple Rain—made with gin, blackberries, and lemon—for an instant cool down.

Hot Tin
New Orleans, Louisiana

The Pontchartrain Hotel, the grand dame of Crescent City lodging, reopened last month after a much-needed facelift. And while the new owners preserved the famed Bayou Bar and Caribbean Room, they crowned the historic property with Hot Tin, a new rooftop bar and lounge—the name is a nod to Tennessee Williams, who lived at the Pontch briefly during the late 1940s—offering a nearly 360-degree look at downtown and the Mississippi River.

Quirk Hotel
Richmond, Virginia

Richmond’s first and only open-air rooftop bar can be found at the art-centric Quirk Hotel, housed in the hull of an old department store at the center of Richmond’s emerging design district. Sip on a house beer, the Quirk Cream Ale, bottled by the local Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, while taking in sweeping views the city. Then sweat it out the next morning at one of Quirk’s rooftop yoga classes.