As we reach the heart of summer, New Yorkers are often torn between two conflicting desires. First, there’s the need to spend as much time as possible outside before summer fades and we are, once again, faced with the prospect of another long winter. Then, there’s the urge to escape the sticky, heavy, unrelenting heat. Luckily, there’s a solution that satisfies both of these seemingly contradictory cravings: a visit to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, otherwise known as the “Met Roof Garden & Martini Bar.” It’s only a quick walk from the Upper East Side residences at The Kent, and it offers all the fixings for an ideal summer afternoon or early evening: tasty cocktails, unparalleled views, provocative art, and, blessedly, access to a refreshing breeze.
It’s safe to say that many New Yorkers and even a majority of tourists visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but fewer stray from the beaten path and find the elevator that will carry them to the posh and verdant rooftop bar. Those who do are rewarded with what The New Yorker called “the best sky in town”—a view of “leafy treetops, a mostly prewar skyline, and an unobstructed celestial display worthy of Bierstadt.” Indeed, the 360-degree view sweeps over the canopies of Central Park and the ornate architecture surrounding it, giving way to the iconic Manhattan skyline. The result is nothing short of postcard-worthy. Whether you’re the audience to unstable skies breaking into a dramatic storm or clear blue beginning to glow orange in the last light of the day, the views are a source of entertainment all their own.
There’s entertainment to be found in the Roof Garden as well. Every summer, it features a new commission, and this year’s does not disappoint. Created by Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha, the work is titled WE COME IN PEACE. It’s made up of sculptures of two imposing otherworldly creatures. The New York Times called the piece “spare and unsettling,” with the first figure exhibiting features that are “somewhat humanoid but with a ferocious mask-face that visually dwarfs the jagged Manhattan skyline behind it,” while the other figure is barely visible beneath its black covering, revealing only a tail and long, alarming hands. While the title is based on a science fiction film, the themes it evokes go beyond the genre and examine place, colonialism, and invaders—topics that are sure to steer your conversations somewhere interesting, at the very least.
Though the views and art may steal the show, there are also tantalizing drinks. The specialty cocktails this summer maintain the spooky spirit of Bhabha’s exhibit. There’s a drink called “The Thing,” made with Kraken rum, basil, and lime juice. Or you can try “The Predator,” made with Tanteo jalapeno tequila, triple sec, and lime. If creepy cocktails with a greenish tint aren’t your thing, there’s also an excellent selection of beer, wine, and coffee, along with a small spread of sandwiches and salads.