On a warm summer evening, is there any better place to go out for cocktails and conversation than a rooftop bar?
Gathering with friends or sharing a patio table with your love is special enough during summer’s dry days and moonlit nights. But sitting far above noisy streets or parking lots, and with a hawk-eye’s view of the surroundings, is about as good as these things get.
Rooftop bars have become a popular amenity in boutique hotels and commercial redevelopment projects. But fortunately, these establishments are open to all adults and not just people who have booked rooms.
Here are some of Alabama’s outdoor bars-with-a-view, and a signature cocktail each serves. It’s far from an exhaustive list. But this will get you started.
Baker & Able (Huntsville)
Named for the first chimps in space, Baker & Able’s indoor-outdoor lounge on top of the 106 Jefferson Hotel is upscale and sophisticated. That applies both to the creative cocktails and to nibbles like the build-your-own grazing board with options including pork and rabbit terrine and goat cheese milked and made in Alabama. Other food includes flatbreads and snacks like warm pretzel with aged cheddar fondue.
Cocktail: Bee Smoker, with Vida mezcal, Campari, St. Germain elderberry liqueur, honey syrup, and orange bitters.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 4 p.m.-11 p.m.
Address: 106 Jefferson Street South
Moon Shine (Birmingham)
Perched 17 floors above First Avenue North, the bar boasts a spectacular view of the Birmingham skyline—during the day, at sunset, or when the city lights up at night. A small-plate menu includes snacks and pizza from a rooftop wood-fired brick oven. Cocktails, brews, and bubbly lead the libations.
Cocktail: Lady in the Moon, with Ford’s London dry gin and lemon, chilled and topped with prosecco.
Hours: Thursday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 4 p.m.–1 a.m.; Sunday 4 p.m.–10 p.m.
Address: 1928 First Avenue North (Elyton Hotel)
The Lookout (Tuscaloosa)
Located atop the Hotel Indigo with a view of the Black Warrior River, The Lookout summarizes its offerings as “cocktails, bites, and Southern fare.” The extensive spirits list is heavy with aged single-malt Scotch, premium whiskeys, ryes, and bourbons including Alabama’s Dettling 1867 Small Batch. The beer list includes Alabama micros, including locally-brewed Black Warrior Crimson Ale. A full dinner menu is available.
Cocktail: Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco, with fresh raspberry puree and mint.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.–10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Address: 111 Greensboro Avenue
Bar Attico (Montgomery)
“Attico” means penthouse in Italian. The rooftop bar is part of the renovated complex that includes Ravello Ristorante. Bar Attico follows the restaurant’s Italian theme with regional wine selections and cocktails.
Cocktail: The Apothecary’s Secret Stash, with London dry gin, dry Curaçao, absinthe, celery, lime, and thyme.
Hours: Tuesday–Thursday 4:30 p.m.–10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 4:30 p.m.–midnight (last call at 11:30 p.m.).
Address: 36 Commerce Street
The Wittel Rooftop Bar (Auburn)
The Collegiate Hotel has a bar in the lobby. But keep walking and take an elevator to The Wittel Rooftop Bar, where the quality of the cocktails is exceeded only by the view.
Cocktail: The All Bees Margarita, with blanco tequila, honey simple syrup, triple sec, house-brewed butterfly tea, and fresh lime juice. The rim is coated in “pollen” (black hibiscus flower salt). The bar donates $1 from each sale to the Auburn University Bee Lab.
Hours: Sunday–Thursday 4:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday 3 p.m.–10 p.m.
Address: 205 South Gay Street