No one decides to go to a rooftop bar in New York City lightly. There will always be a wait, especially if the bar has a particularly good view (230 Fifth), a famous name behind the project (Westlight) or lounge chairs beside a gorgeous pool (1 Rooftop Garden & Bar).
But dealing with the lines at Broken Shaker, the buzzy Bohemian bar import from Miami inside the already white-hot Freehand Hotel in the Flatiron District, requires some real commitment. Yes, that’s lines plural — Eater waited through four lines (street, hallway, elevator, host stand) before even reaching the wall of bodies at the bar.
Comments on Yelp range from 40 minutes to an hour to get inside, then an additional half an hour or so if you want a table. "It's easier to get in any bar in Meatpacking District at 6 pm than Broken Shaker," as one put it.
The real problem, critics agree, is that Broken Shaker is worth the wait. It’s spectacularly designed, a comfortable beach house you Airbnb’ed from a couple of hippies with a taste for rattan chairs and bright yellow paint. The cocktails have been nominated twice at the James Beard Awards and the bar has made the World’s 50 Best list; you won’t find ingredients like powdered cream cheese and mango vinegar elsewhere in the city.
Officially, there are no reservations to make or bouncers to charm at Broken Shaker — the only way to skip the line is to be staying at the hotel. The elaborate series of lines makes sense from a business perspective: People are less deterred by a short line out front, and the sunk cost fallacy takes over once you’re inside. It’s even neighborly, as Broken Shaker’s patrons aren’t clogging up the sidewalk and blocking the entrances to nearby businesses.
You do, of course, also have some other amazing options for tropical drinks in the city. There’s the newly opened Pacific island paradise The Polynesian, the deep rum list and Trinidadian bar bites at Clyde’s or tacos to go with your frozen drinks indoors or on the back patio at Bushwick’s El Cortez.
Or you can wait — and cross your fingers that lines get shorter as people clear out for bars on actual beaches.