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The New York Bar Bubble

James Hull - January 27th, 2014

Never underestimate the value of Manhattan real estate. No corner can be overlooked in a city where space and location matter, and maximizing square footage is essential. Enter the rooftop bar, where once neglected outdoor space becomes a platform for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, private parties and alfresco dining.

Traditionally reserved for balmy evenings, the rooftop at 230 Fifth is weathering the winter with the addition of heated see-through bubble tents to coddle partygoers on chilly nights. The venue also distributes free robes to those braving the cold on the roof, has set up 90 outdoor heaters, and is thus footing an electricity bill that director Sal Rozenberg says is “sky high.” The original plan called for ice igloos to be built on the deck. That idea was scrapped due to the weight of the ice and its potential for melting, with the inflatable versions standing in as a practical alternative. Their clear PVC construction affords patrons a view of the city skyline and also lets staff keep an eye on what’s happening inside.

Part tent and part science fiction prop, the 14-foot by 14-foot bubbles were originally conceived for campers, but have been repurposed for the roof deck with a weighted sub floor to keep them in place and interior decorations, including rugs and sofas. The igloos pose special problems for staff, as their pressurized entryways require that a busser be there to operate two zipper doors whenever servers enter or exit. Comfy as revelers may be inside, the structures are deflated before bad weather as a precaution. Rozenberg says that more of the igloos are planned for next year, and owners are working with a designer to create a new version with an improved entrance that would allow easier access. 230 Fifth currently has four “Fifthgloos,” which were purchased for $1,800 each and accommodate up to 12 people. The experience doesn’t come cheaply. There is a $500 charge for use of an igloo, which includes two bottles.