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5 Best NYC Drink Spots to Try This Summer

By Julie Smith SchneiderApr 17 2024
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As daffodils show their golden faces and cherry blossoms burst like pink clouds, the city fills with color and a certain lightness of being takes hold. A weighty feeling that maybe you didn’t even realize you were carrying floats away on a warm breeze. Goodbye puffer coats, hello short sleeves. Spring has rolled into town, and soon: summer.

Rockefeller Center is full of places to enjoy the sunny skies and warmer weather — all while lingering over well-crafted cocktails or impeccable cappuccinos, catching up with friends, and watching the world go by. Whether you’re in the mood for a caffeinated pick-me-up, soda you can customize, or something a bit boozier, we’ve got you covered. Toast to fun times with good company at five of the best NYC drink spots.

Explore all of Rockefeller Center’s dining and drinking options.

For outdoor dining: Lodi

“No simple breakfast that I know of, in Midtown or any other neighborhood, can beat a Lodi pastry and coffee,” wrote New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells. And, if you enjoy this combo while posted up at one of this Italian cafe’s plentiful outdoor tables on a beautiful day, really, does it get any better?

You can visit Lodi any time of day (not only for breakfast) to eat, imbibe, and people-watch from the well-situated patio. In addition to its lauded selection of sweets and coffee, Lodi serves a delicious spread of food and drinks that embrace Italian aperitivo culture. The food menu includes heartier breakfast options (like frittata or smoked salmon and soft egg on toast), all-day dishes suitable for lunch and dinner (think: antipasti, cheeses and cured meats, pastas, and entrees), and desserts.

Drinks to try: Choose from perfectly executed espresso drinks, fresh juices, French and Italian wines, classic cocktails, and fruit-forward spritzes — ideal for a leisurely late afternoon or an after-work happy hour.

Lodi (1 Rockefeller Plaza) is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 9pm, Saturday from 10am to 9:30pm, and Sunday from 10am to 7pm. Happy hour happens every weekday from 3 to 6pm.

For classic cocktails, reimagined: Smith & Mills

When you step inside Smith & Mills’ new Rockefeller Center location, with its glowing candlelight, dark walls, and old-school, speakeasy charm, the outside world melts away. Its cozy ambiance and central location on Rink Level make the restaurant-bar an ideal gathering place, whether it’s for lunch and libations, happy hour with oysters after work, or a romantic dinner date. The drinks menu includes classic cocktails with a Smith & Mills spin, aperitif cocktails, beers and ciders, and wines and champagnes (available by the glass and bottle).

Drinks to try: Grub Street named the inventive trio of “mini-tinis” among New York City’s best new martinis. This flight includes each of the martinis on Smith & Mills’ menu: the Vesper Del Mar (a gin, vodka, sherry, white vermouth, and a kombu-pickled onion), Mezu-Mezu (gin, quinquina blanc, Spanish olive), and A Smokeshow (mezcal, sotol, génépy, lime-leaf aperitif, grapefruit bitters, Calabrian chili). For a zero-proof cocktail, the tropical Pineapple Grove serves up vacation vibes in coupe glass form.

Smith & Mills Rockefeller Center (30 Rockefeller Plaza, Rink Level) is open for lunch (Tuesday through Friday, 11:30am to 3pm), oyster happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4pm to 6pm), and dinner (Monday through Saturday, 4pm to 10pm).

For grab and go: Cool Sips

If you find yourself with a very specific drink craving — lemonade with a dash of blue raspberry and boba? green tea and Gatorade with mango? Pepsi, caramel, and vanilla cream? — the brand-new fountain soda shop Cool Sips can make it happen. Its Willy Wonka-esque rainbow of refreshing, jewel-toned concoctions are even endorsed by the Mayor of Rockefeller Center himself. Paying tribute to surfer culture with beverages named after seaside towns with surfing spots, Cool Sips invites you to drink in that sunscreen-scented, ride-the-waves summertime feeling all year round.

Drinks to try: Pick from a curated list of eight “Signature Sips,” or create your own blend. You can choose from a menu of drinks (tea, cold-brew coffee, lemonade, soda, energy drink, or sports drink), syrups, creams, and add-ins (boba or jellies), for hundreds of custom combination possibilities.

Cool Sips (30 Rockefeller Plaza) is open daily from 11am to 7pm.

For a pick-me-up: % Arabica

Caffeine lovers, take note! Global coffee company % Arabica has opened in Rockefeller Center (as of January 2024). With a Kyoto flagship and nearly 200 gorgeously designed locations around the world, the brand is on a mission to help you “see the world through coffee.” With radiant, golden walls and a glowing bar that seems to levitate, the memorable aesthetic sets the scene for the shop’s incredibly high-quality coffee. The company sources beans from some of the world’s finest coffee farms, which they roast to perfection and serve blended or as single-origin brews.

Drinks to try: Order an espresso drink to taste the bestselling % Arabica Blend, a proprietary blend that’s used for espresso in every % Arabica store. Made with coffee beans from Central and South America and Africa, this coffee has a complex, chocolatey flavor with notes of caramel, nuts, and wine — making it a particularly good choice for a latte. Pair your beverage with another % Arabica exclusive: sweet and savory baked goods made by Raf’s, a downtown, European-style bakery.

% Arabica (30 Rockefeller Plaza) is open daily from 7am to 7pm.

For beer garden hangouts: Other Half Brewery

Known for bold, boundary-pushing craft beers, Other Half Brewery has developed an avid community of fans since opening a decade ago in Brooklyn. Whether grabbing an after-work happy hour drink in the Rockefeller Center taproom or soaking up the sun in the seasonal beer garden on the Esplanade, overlooking The Rink, you’ll find a distinctive beer to please your palate — available on draft (in a pint or a 4-oz. glass) and in flights, bottles, and to-go cans. Take your pick from an eclectic list of hazy IPAs, dessert stouts, wild fermented ales, lagers, and fruity sours. Then, kick back and take in the layered and transporting flavors.

Drinks to try: A New England-style IPA that pays tribute to the local skyline, Top of the Broc packs notes of tropical candies, peach rings, grapefruit, and mango. Perfect for drinking at the base of its namesake building.

Other Half at Rockefeller Center (600 Fifth Avenue) is open Sunday and Monday from 12pm to 8pm and Tuesday through Saturday 12pm to 10pm.

To find your new favorite hangout spot, explore all of Rockefeller Center’s restaurants, cafés, and bars.

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