If we can’t drink and dine on the waterfront all summer (because let’s face it, in New York, river and oceanside spots are few and far between), there’s only one other place we’d rather be — up on the roof. It’s the consummate city experience… clinging onto a cocktail while precariously perched at the lip of a high rise building, peering out at the skyline and down at the bustling streets below. And when it comes to especially chic roof bars, it doesn’t get much better than the new Gallow Green, located on the very top of The McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea.
In fact, you can wile away an entire night in the sprawling, atmospheric building, starting with tickets to the interactive theater spectacle, “Sleep No More,” ascending a rickety elevator to their onsite restaurant, The Heath, for Ale Pies in a smoke-wreathed room flanked by vintage dining cars, and finally, taking a wooden, ivy-ringed staircase the rest of the way to the lush, cloistered, giddily stylized Gallow Green — the name of a notorious Scottish field where 17th century witches were burned.
A winding, open-air maze of pebbled floors, potted trees and flowered trellises hung with twinkly lights, there are as many types of seating arrangements as there are punch-drunk New Yorkers to fill them. “Sleep No More” attendees (still clutching their hook-nosed, ghostly white masks) line the simple benches on the outskirts, flirtatious singletons mix and mingle amongst the high-backed stools, teetering tables and circular cedar banquettes, lovebirds cuddle on padded couches in the flickering glow of fire pits, larger groups share absinthe-tinged potions at weathered wooden tables arranged in rows, and a lucky few can even perch in an abandoned, antique railcar with a handful of well-stocked bars ready to serve them all.
There’s wine and beer, of course, but in order to really get into the spirit of things, we recommend sticking with Juleps and Cocktails — like the fruit and spice-forward “Holmfield Park” with Medley Brothers Bourbon, grapefruit, rhubarb, habanero and cardamom, or the “Bellefontaine” with Denizen Merchant’s Reserve Rum, Frais des Bois, Salers and marjoram — or even better, the intensely boozy, communal punches, developed by decorated drink historian David Wondrich.
It’s tremendous fun to fill cup after cup with Gallow Green’s signature, shareable libation, a blend of Pernod Absinthe (which the barkeep theatrically sets aflame), accompanied by Delord Armagnac, mineral water and lemon oleo, but if you’d just as soon default to Gin, “The Garrick Club” is an easy-drinking mix of Old Tom and Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, while the “Touch of Evil” adds a kiss of smoke with Dorothy Parker, El Buho Mezcal and nutmeg. And big spenders can pass the night in high-style around a gleaming, copper vessel of punch, made with Bache Gabrielsen VSOP Cognac, raspberry oleo, mint and Christian Etienne Brut Champagne.
Just a word to the wise: Once you’ve finally worked your way to the bottom of the punch bowl, it’s best to steer clear of the artfully crumbling edges of that vaulted, summer breeze-kissed roof.