When it comes to rooftop venues, no U.S. city does it quite like New York. The Big Apple’s top highrise locales are simply unrivaled in just about every way from design and atmosphere, to those impeccable views.
But there’s more to 30-story luxury living than a good vantage point and some cheeky interior decorating. The secret to some of Manhattan’s most elite rooftop lounges is how everything comes together: service, location, food and beverage, and of course, having the right crowd of faces. The Skylark, located in the center of Manhattan’s Fashion District, is part of this refined group of rooftop venues simply because it brings all of those elements together.
For starters, The Skylark’s location is perhaps the greatest reason why it made so much sense to place a 30th-floor cocktail lounge on top of 200 W 39th St. The address’ close proximity to both Madison Square Garden and the Theater District makes it the ideal stop before or after a game or show. The space is also available for private events on the weekends, which are typically small get-togethers, corporate, wedding parties, birthdays, anniversaries or reunions.
Since its opening in 2013, The Skylark has prided itself on more than just location though. Its classic, multi-level indoor space is everything you want in a New York City cocktail lounge, thanks to an artful design by Will Meyer and Gray Davis of Meyer Davis Studio. And sure, panoramic views of the Hudson River, Times Square and Empire State Building are a major plus, but what makes The Skylark stand out is its exciting bar bites and its cocktail menu, the latter of which was curated by renowned mixologist Johnny Swet.
So many great NYC rooftop venues miss the mark because they’re simply meant to just awe guests with the shimmering lights of the city rather than their offerings and service, often coupling great views with run-of-the-mill tapas. But when you’ve lived most of your life less than an hour away from the greatest metropolis on earth, city views only get you so far. For General Manager Justin Adams and his team at The Skylark, it’s not just about giving their guests a literal 360-degree experience on the rooftop terrace, but also one that is focused on every point of consumer contact.
During my recent visit to The Skylark, I found (and ate) an incredibly unique tapas-style menu. What makes these offerings so special is that they’re designed for the foodie; from avocado toast and tuna wonton tacos with togarashi aioli and pineapple poblano slaw, to classic beef sliders and General Tsao’s cauliflower (vegetarians rejoice). It is a bar menu that’s been carefully crafted for its target audience and is bursting with creativity which stems from the fusing of both American and Asian flavors. The Skylark’s kitchen is not afraid to take risks either, featuring fun and eccentric items like mac & cheese cupcakes with smoked tomato chutney, frizzled kale, and peking duck wontons served with sesame hoisin, radish and scallions.
Equally as impressive as the lounge’s crave-worthy ‘dinner by the bite’ selection, is Swet’s specialty cocktail bar. One that features drinks like the Fort Knox with Elijah Craig Bourbon, mezcal yellow chartreuse, honey syrup and grilled lemon ice block, and my personal favorite, the Prince Harry, with Tito’s, pama pomegranate liqueur, agave lime juice and ginger beer. The Skylark also has a pretty extensive wine menu as well, if cocktails aren’t your jive.
Another key component of The Skylark’s success is its people. You can tell the staff is in the hands of true hospitality professionals, and guests of The Skylark are the kind of people you want to be around at a space like this; young professionals enjoying an evening in Manhattan. The penthouse lounge itself often plays host to private celebrity gatherings and events on weekends as well. From the moment you enter the building, you’re guided up to your table by people who care about what they do, something that is evident when you first head through what feels like a secret/speakeasy entrance, down a dark corridor, and onto an elevator that takes you up 30 stories.
The evening sunset atop The Skylark’s open-air rooftop terrace (located directly above the indoor lounge space) is a sight to be seen, and I don’t mean on social media. With warmer days on the horizon, you can expect that VUE (and the after work crowds) will be returning to enjoy those warm summer nights.