A great bar evokes the Friday feeling: that sense of elation, relaxation, and infinite possibility. And what setting better captures that feeling than a rooftop bar, where you can rise above it all, catch beautiful views, and perhaps get a breath of fresh air? Raise a glass to the West's top spots to drink in the sights.
With the dramatic Alaska Range and the Cook Inlet as a backdrop, the rooftop patio at 49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage emphasizes a sense of place. Tip back one of its small-batch brews—maybe a citrusy Solstice IPA or chocolaty McCarthy's Stout—while noshing on dishes inspired by the Last Frontier, such as the king crab grilled cheese.
Crowning the white Meier & Frank Building, one of Portland's early department stores, Departure overlooks Pioneer Courthouse Square. Its spirits menu features a broad array of sakes and whiskeys distilled in Japan, Scotland, and the United States. Mixed drinks include options such as the Varuna, a fragrant mocktail of persimmon, cinnamon, ginger, and pine nut. The interiors—think Space Mountain meets 2001: A Space Odyssey—open on to views of downtown and the Willamette River.
With popular trivia nights and PBR aplenty, Salt Lake City's unpretentious Green Pig Pub has become a neighborhood institution. Its dog-friendly rooftop, which looks out over the City & County Building and the Wasatch Range, makes a comfortable place to spend an afternoon. Snack on house favorites like the Pig-a-delphia cheesesteak, a porcine take on the classic Philly sandwich.
The Warfield Distillery & Brewery, on Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho, may be oriented upward, with its soaring Bald Mountain vistas, but its menu is firmly grounded in local soil. The kitchen leans on ingredients from nearby purveyors such as Mountain Pride meats. A rotating selection of entrees, among them the fennelcrusted rack of lamb with chard salad and a bone-in tomahawk steak, accompany beer and spirits made on-site.
Perched atop the Archer Hotel in downtown Napa, Sky & Vine has just as deep a wine menu as you'd hope for in Northern California wine country, with 23 varietals available by the glass. Night owls love the Reverse Happy Hour—from 9 p.m. to closing time Sunday through Thursday—when draft beer prices drop to $6 and bar bites such as lobster corn dogs are offered.
Commonwealth, on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, provides a refreshing break from the sleek megaclubs of the Strip. You can join the young crowd that gathers on the upstairs patio with its sofas, benches, and ample dancing space as you wait for the table you reserved weeks ago in the Laundry Room, a speakeasy within the bar. The small cocktail den, with newspapers on the wall and doors on the ceiling, feels like a secret.
Hawaii has the ideal weather for an open-air bar, and three-year-old Tchin Tchin, in Honolulu's Chinatown, takes full advantage of all that sunshine. Lounge outside on its low-key lanai, which features a living wall of ferns in 50 shades of green. You can pair tasty pub grub, such as grilled Taleggio sandwiches and fried shishito peppers, with a sampling of wines: Order as little as a two-ounce sip, and get a bit adventurous.