Whether you’re overlooking a pristine, tropical beach or the glittering skyline of a booming metropolis, there’s something special about enjoying cocktail hour on the water. Oceans, lakes, and rivers bring us a sense of calm, especially if we’re relishing the view with an icy beverage in hand. From a cocktail bar situated on the beach of a Spanish Mediterranean village to a towering lounge overlooking New York City, these are some of the most stunning waterfront bars in the world.
Veronica’s Bar at Blue Waters Resort & Spa — St. John’s, Antigua
All-inclusive resorts all too often offer fairly mediocre food and beverage programs, even if the surroundings are beautiful. But Blue Waters Resort & Spa in Antigua is a different story. The property has three restaurants helmed by chef Lisa Sellars and three gorgeous bars, all of which offer top-notch food and drinks. Our favorite is Veronica’s Bar, which is situated right on the beach to provide glittering views of the Caribbean. Sit back and relax with one of the signature tropical libations like the Antigua Smile, which is made with light rum, creme de banana, and pineapple juice.
The Regent Cocktail Club at Gurney’s — Montauk, New York
During the summer high season, Gurney’s is a bonafide hot spot that caters to city dwellers and party people who migrate east from New York City on the weekends. But as Montauk’s only year-round resort, we much prefer to enjoy the hotel’s dining options, world-class spa, and Atlantic Ocean views when the crowds aren’t so thick. Whatever your preferred scene, The Regent Cocktail Club at Gurney’s is the place to grab a beautifully crafted oceanfront drink from renowned bartender Julio Cabrera. Plop down on a leather couch or head outside to the fire pit while enjoying something spritzy and refreshing, like the La Grand Fizz made with vodka, St. Germain, prosecco, and lime juice.
Guanabanas — Jupiter, Florida
This tranquil tropical oasis is so surrounded by rich vegetation that you might think you’re on a private island far, far away rather than on the coast of Jupiter, Florida. As dreamy as it is, Guanabanas is a very real place that serves delicious food and drinks on the bank of the Intracoastal Waterway. The lush oasis was opened by local surfers in 2004 as a sandwich shop, and has grown to become a Palm Beach County institution. Saddle up to the open-air, woven tiki bar and take in some live music while you sip on an organic or biodynamic wine, summery cocktail, or rum from the impressive international spirits selection.
Cabana Beach Kiosk — Narrabeen, Australia
If you want to enjoy Sydney’s stunning beaches without the staggering crowds, head north to the suburb of Narrabeen, where you’ll find this hidden gem. Cabana Beach Kiosk opened in 2018, and is already known for its delicious fresh fish, tasty cocktails, and sweeping views of the South Pacific. Since it’s open from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, you can catch the sunset while you sip on something icy (and maybe even see the sunrise if you arrive early for a morning smoothie). Choose from a large list of iced coffee drinks, juices, beer, wine, and cocktails like mojitos and mango caipiroskas.
Tavern & Table — Charleston, South Carolina
There’s no better place to catch a sunset in Charleston than overlooking the Shem Creek, and Tavern & Table is the place to be as golden hour approaches. Along with the sky’s deep orange and pink hues, you’ll find one of the best food and drink menus in the area. The bar has 18 beers on tap and a solid wine list, as well as signature twists on classic cocktails and a seasonal barrel-aged cocktail. Try the Sorghum Sour — made with High Wire Sorghum Whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, egg white, and a red wine float — or come for happy hour when an Aperol spritz is only $5.
Boia Nit — Cadaqués, Spain
Located in Spain’s Girona province in the romantic Mediterranean village of Cadaqués, Boia Nit is one of the best cocktail bars in the country, and maybe even the world. This watering hole has been open since 1947, and is currently helmed by cocktail master Manel Vehí, who has worked for the likes of Ferran Adrià at El Bulli and Grant Achatz at Chicago’s Alinea. The gorgeous outdoor bar offers unbeatable views of Cadaqués Bay, excellent tapas, and, of course, top-notch cocktails to wash it all down. Think concoctions like the Passionate Coconut, made with vodka, coconut cream, lemongrass, kaffir lime, Buddha’s Hand, and lime juice. Each cocktail looks as pretty as it tastes, garnished with fresh and dried fruits.
Boathouse on the Pier — South Lake Tahoe, California
If you’re more of a lake person than a beach person, a trip to Lake Tahoe is one of the best vacations you can take no matter the time of year. If you find yourself on the California side of the grandiose natural wonder, pop into Boathouse on the Pier for drinks and snacks. The bar and restaurant is part of The Beach Retreat & Lodge, which has the longest pier in Tahoe. Go during the afternoon happy hour to watch people kayak and paddleboard around the lake, or arrive before dinner to watch the sun set behind Mount Tallac while you sip a classic cocktail or crisp glass of beer or wine. If hunger strikes, the fish tacos and crab sandwich are both excellent choices.
Brooklyn Heights Social Club — Brooklyn, New York
The best part about being across the East River from Manhattan is getting to enjoy a view of its extraordinary skyline. There’s no better place to do so than Brooklyn Heights Social Club, which has a panoramic view of downtown Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Lady Liberty. Perched atop the 10th floor of 1 Brooklyn Bridge Hotel, the lounge is open daily and often features live DJs spinning ambient tunes. Many of the cocktails here are expertly made classics like the Paper Plane (made with bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and lemon juice) with a few signature recipes sprinkled in. We suggest the Medicina Agrio because its mix of mezcal, honey, ginger, lime, egg white, and bitters will bring some sunshine to happy hour no matter the time of year.