TODAY'S PAPER

Rooftop bars in midtown Manhattan: Elsie, Versa, Magic Hour, and more

At the end of a long, stressful week, sometimes all you want to do is decompress, and vent, with your friends over drinks.

That's easier said than done: Once you've rounded up the gang, you have to decide where to go. You could head over to the office's usual watering hole, the local dive bar, but you've spent the whole day cooped up inside, staring at a computer screen, and you're craving fresh air.

We recommend one of these midtown rooftop bars instead (where, yes, the libations can be expensive, but think of them as covering the price of the view):

Elsie Rooftop

The owners behind the Refinery Hotel in the Fashion District have just launched Elsie Rooftop, dedicated to the iconic actress and interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe. The $7 million rooftop lounge and terrace features food from chef David Burke and was designed by Delphine Mauroit of DMDesign & Architecture. A private elevator greets guests in the lobby and carries them to the 25th floor, where they're treated to a main room with antique mirrors along gold metal walls, Versailles parquet flooring and a blue marble bar top. "Our concept was to create a villa on the roof, inter-mixing various residential elements such as the arched doors leading to the garden to emphasize the penthouse concept," Mauroit said. (1412 Broadway, ElsieRooftop.com, 212-764-1090)

Versa

The Renaissance Midtown hotel's new restaurant has a patio bar with a retractable roof and multiple bars, including Versa East and Versa West -- each serving different drinks, including Casamigos margaritas and Leblon Caipirinhas, respectively. Make sure to grab an Angry Rabbit (tequila, St. Germain, passionfruit puree, fresh carrot and lime juices, chilies and cilantro) or a Pineapple Basil (pineapple, basil and cachaça). There's also a wine list featuring small wine producers from different regions and a raw bar for those who want fresh shellfish. Versa's patio bars are open from Monday through Saturday, 3 p.m. until late. (218 W. 35th St., versanyc.com, 646-850-2850)

Lucy’s Cantina Royale

If you catch yourself in the middle of dreaded commuter central during happy hour, a margarita will mask the misery. The rooftop bar at Lucy's Cantina Royale blends a tropical escape with a view of Penn Station. Drink deals offered daily, between 4 and 7 p.m., include $7 frozen margaritas, $6 red wine sangrias and $4 Coors Lights. A visit to the seat-yourself restaurant can leave you stuffed on tacos ($8 to $13), quesadillas ($9 to $12) and burritos ($11 to $14) for your commute home. 1 Pennsylvania Plaza, Manhattan, lucyscantinaroyale.com, 212-643-1270

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Spyglass

Ascend to the 22nd floor of the Archer Hotel for views of the Empire State building and craft cocktails and nibbles from chef Charlie Palmer. The concept for the bar is inspired by Hitchcock's classic thriller "Rear Window": design elements are based on the telescope used by Jimmy Stewart. Grab a classy Midtown Manhattan (rye with aperol, bitters and grapefruit peel) and plates of Old Bay chips and tuna tacos while you spy on the pedestrians below. 47 W. 38th St., Manhattan, spyglassnyc.com, 212-730-0538

Castell

Toasting the cocktail bars of the '60s, this lounge perched 21 floors above the Garment District puts an emphasis on the martini. James Bond's drink of choice comes in all variations: dry, dirty, Gibson. Pair your pick with Mediterranean-inspired bites like toasted almonds with smoked Spanish paprika and larger plates like a grilled chicken skewer served with hummus and mixed greens. The design of the space, comprising an indoor lounge and a garden terrace, draws on the vaults and shapes of Spanish architecture. The bar's name is Spanish in origin, too: Castell is the Catalan word for "castle." AC Hotel, 260 W. 40t St., Manhattan, castellnyc.com, 212-284-3741

Vida Verde Rooftop Margarita Market

The new rooftop extension of Vida Verde, a stylish midtown spot serving authentic Mexican eats and mezcal cocktails, is decked out in brightly colored chairs, tables and murals guaranteed to raise your spirits after a demoralizing work week. Come here for the margaritas: The bar's menu features 10 different flavors, including combos like mango and habanero, grape and cilantro and honeydew and cayenne. (248 W. 55th St., vidaverdeny.com, 646-657-0565)

Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge

Enter this "urban amusement park" at the Moxy Times Square hotel through a darkly lit lobby with a giant funhouse mirror. The highlights at Magic Hour are the outdoor terraces; one on the east side overlooking the Empire State Building, and one on the west, with a carnival-like vibe and an antique carousel. HR may not approve of this group activity, but that doesn't have to stop you from playing putt-putt on a miniature course with enormous animals sculpted in bawdy poses. If hunger strikes you here, order your pick of state fair-type bites, like lobster rolls, corn hush puppies, and Cracker Jacks. To drink, sip something solo, or opt for a cocktail that serves as many as 15, such as a tiki punch served in a glittering disco ball. We recommend making reservations for a big outing, as access is based on accessibility and hotel guests get first dibs. (485 7th Ave., moxytimessquare.com, 212-268-0188)

Ophelia

Sitting atop the iconic Beekman Tower, this rooftop bar channels the history of the art deco building that dates back to 1928 and that once served as a women-only residence. With design touches from the 1920s and '30s, and a collection of "curiosities" on display, the 100-seat cocktail lounge resembles the inside of a jewel box. Make sure to take a tour of the space before you settle in and order yourself a reinvention of a classic cocktail, like "Ophelia's Ascension" or "The Flapper," and lighter bites like avocado toast and oysters. You'll want to walk along the black-and-white-tiled terrace on the perimeter of the 26th floor for great 360-degree views of Manhattan and the East River. (3 Mitchell Pl., opheliany.com, 212-980-4796)

St. Cloud Social

If you work near Times Square, (a) we're so, so sorry, and (b) we're got the perfect way to get a new perspective on the city's busiest plaza. From its perch atop the Knickerbocker Hotel, St. Cloud Social offers a bird's-eye view of the tourist hub from its three private "Sky Pods," access to a "Waterford Crystal Lounge" (where champagne is served in Waterford glasses under a Waterford chandelier), and a menu of small plates, cocktails, beer, wine and spirits. Accommodating all kinds of weather, there's both an indoor and an outdoor bar. A wall of cultivated vines and strings of market lights overhead set the scene outside. (6 Times Square, theknickerbocker.com, 212-204-5787)

The Skylark

For Garment District workers, this 30th-floor cocktail lounge offers can't-miss sunset views. Hang out in the main lounge, in the pool room or on the outdoor terrace while you wait for that magical evening moment, and keep a signature cocktail in hand (the gin- and vodka-based Skylark incorporates elderflower liqueur, blue curacao, lemon juice and a brandied cherry). When you start feeling peckish, order the tapas sample, the guac or the spice sweet potato fries for your whole crew. (200 W. 39th St., theskylarknyc.com, 212-257-4577)

Bookmarks

The New York Public Library and Grand Central Station are in sight from the open terrace and the enclosed greenhouse at this bar evoking the penthouse you wish you could afford. Literary-themed cocktails (Dante's Inferno, Tequila Mockingbird, The Pulitzer) are the thing here, as is sangria, which comes in four varieties and by the glass or pitcher. To nosh on, you'll find small plates like a selection of artisanal cheeses, truffled popcorn and roast beef sliders. (The Library Hotel, 299 Madison Ave., Hospitalityholdings.com, 212-204-5498)

Social Drink & Food

Don't have any vacation booked for a while? Escape to this tropical resort-inspired rooftop bar on the fourth floor of the YOTEL. The festival lounge chairs themselves will transport you south, as will the Mediterranean-influenced street food (think mezze and flatbreads) and fancy seasonal cocktails, like the Urban Tiger with creme de peche and the Absinth Colada. For the best deal, visit on a summer Friday and take advantage of the $10 pizza-and-beer-on-tap deal from 3 to 5 p.m. If you're bringing a group of six or more, book your reservation via Resy. (570 10th Ave., socialdrinkandfood.com, 646-449-7790)

The Roof

If you're looking for some classy views, head to 57th Street, where this indoor-outdoor hotspot is open year-round. The Roof at the Viceroy New York hotel has masterful views of Central Park and lots of comfortable seating, including custom-made leather sofas. Sip classic and trendy cocktails and nosh on small bites like crispy artichokes served with aioli and lemon and hummus plated with crudité and za'atar-seasoned chips. (120 W. 57th St., theroofny.com)

Cantina Rooftop

Tequila cocktails, mezcal, dancing and Mexican eats like tacos and tostadas are promised at Cantina Rooftop. (For those who abstain from alcohol in your group, there's also a nice selection of Mexican sodas.) Add sweeping views to the mix and you're sure to have a fun-filled evening above Hell's Kitchen. The retractable glass roof will keep you warm on chilly nights. (605 W. 48th St., cantinarooftop.com, 212-957-1700)

Top of the Strand

If your crew is looking for a hugely impressive, unobstructed view of the Empire State Building, ascend to the 21st floor of the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse. There, you'll find the "urban oasis" known as the Top of the Strand. Its big claim to fame is its cabana area, which was arranged by set designer Lydia Marks of "Sex and the City." Channel Carrie while you sip on cocktails, beer and wine. (33 W. 37th St., topofthestrand.com, 646-368-6385)