We all know and love Albuquerque’s famous watermelon sunsets. (Of course our daytime weather doesn’t leave much to complain about either, with a massive blue sky and an average of 300 days of sun per year.) With the promise of a breath-taking sunset practically every night, a view from the top is the ideal way to take in the beauty, and like most large cities, Albuquerque has a rooftop bar scene available for your front-row viewing pleasure.
Hotels, with their characteristically tall buildings, prime locations and readily available clientele, make them hot spots for chic rooftop cocktail bars. The year round rooftop bar, Apothecary Lounge, on top of the historic Hotel Parq Central hotel in east downtown Albuquerque is one of the most popular destinations in town for enjoying the sunset while exploring the emerging craft cocktail scene in New Mexico. Freshly squeezed juices, handmade ingredients and premium spirits are combined within the walls of a top-floor bar that spills out onto a spectacular patio. Burqueños and visitors alike arrive early to grab a table and feast on small plates of unique food, as well as on the sunset views. Besides the stunning views, Apothecary has become a destination for classic prohibition-era cocktails, a trend that has taken the national bar scene by storm in recent years. Seeing cocktails like Sazearacs, Pimm’s Cups, and Old Fashioned’s on a cocktail menu in Albuquerque makes me giddy with excitement. I am a sucker for a good Pisco Sour and this is certainly the spot to find one. If you don’t fancy the classics, they also feature multiple margaritas— (the prickly pear margarita is their shining star—as well as a selection of seasonal changing cocktails. Albuquerque’s bar scene is elevating and Apothecary is a great spot to experience the future of cocktails.
Ibiza, on top of Hotel Andaluz, in the heart of downtown, is a hotel rooftop bar with a kick. The hotel’s restaurant downstairs, MÁS, extends its menu to the roof. MÁS is the latest creation of New Mexico’s celebrity chef James Campbell Caruso and is one of the premium dining experiences in the Duke City. Ibiza has a very mixed, eclectic crowd, including downtown business people, nightclubbers, college students and hotel guests from all over the world. Hotel Andaluz is the preferred hotel for traveling movie, television and musical talent. The hotel itself was opened in 1939, the first hotel in New Mexico constructed by New Mexico native Conrad Hilton. Ibiza’s signature cocktail, the Zsa Zsa, was named after a very special guest in the hotel’s history log. Zsa Zsa Gabor and Hilton honeymooned there many years ago. The drink is a twist on the Cosmopolitan with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, romaine, lime and grapefruit juice. This summer, Ibiza will feature live music by some of the finest musicians in New Mexico, including Madrid, singer/songwriter Jesus Bas, blues guitarist Chris Dracup and R&B singer Hillary Smith. If you find yourself in Ibiza and you don’t sample some of Chef Caruso’s famous Spanish tapas, you are missing out. Period.
Hotels are not the only place to enjoy a view from above. Albuquerque’s Seasons Rotisserie & Grill has a second-floor patio bar overlooking Old Town in one direction and the Sandias in the other, with a massive fountain in the flower-filled plaza below. The patio and bar open every day at 4 p.m. with food available until 10 p.m. and last call at 11p.m. The bar has its own kitchen with a recently added Montague Broiler, and the food menu has been expanded to take advantage of that. During happy hour, the Flat Iron Steak with a classic chimichurri sauce and a mound of waffle-cut fries is only $10, and select cocktails are only $5. The rest of the patio menu includes burgers, sandwiches, street tacos, steaks and flown-in-fresh seafood. The full dining room menu is also available upstairs and many of those items come off the restaurant’s wood-burning rotisserie and grill. Seasons’ head bartender, Nicole Wynnyk, has been behind the stick there for five years and has created more than a dozen signature cocktails for the new spring menu. For a New Mexico-inspired cocktail, try the Sweet and Nice with a Little Spice, made with Ketel One Vodka, an infused, local green chile simple syrup, passion fruit puree and a fresh press of lime, garnished with some hot green chile. It’s the familiar fragrance of Albuquerque at the peak of chile roasting season.
For a high-volume nightclub experience, Imbibe cigar bar is your destination. In the center of the Nob Hill area, the rooftop bar offers both tables and lounge seating surrounding three built-in fire pits. The patio is the ideal place to watch the nightlife of the Nob Hill streets below. The downstairs bar—the only smoking lounge in Albuquerque—has a walk in humidor where guests can seek the advice of a cigar attendant to find what they are looking for. (Sometimes you can even catch Antonio there, carefully hand rolling cigars for partygoers.) The bartenders at Imbibe are fast, fierce and entertaining, and there is a DJ spinning most nights. Throughout the summer, the bar even flies in famous DJs from around the country and hosts parties on the rooftop to celebrate. During the day, the scene is more serene and you can take advantage of one of Albuquerque’s most generous happy hours every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Premium martinis are only $5 and draught beers are $2. Imbibe’s rooftop patio is a unique, high-energy experience, perfect for a fabulous night out.
From classic hand-crafted cocktails and world class cuisine to trendy, hard-hitting bars pumping with liveliness, Albuquerque certainly has a rooftop patio experience to appeal to everyone. And the choices are growing. Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse, in Los Ranchos, is soon expanding with a rooftop bar and I am sure they will not be the last to cash in on the growing market. With our spectacular skylines and mountain views rooftop patios are a no-brainer in the Land of Enchantment. It’s time to get out on the roof and enjoy the view from the top.