Water towers are beloved fixtures of the New York skyline, inspiring urban myths and song lyrics (see: Beastie Boys and Bruce Springsteen). Five years ago, an artist even built a clandestine bar inside a water tower in Chelsea. Now, a tourist-friendly and Instagram-ready version has been erected in Brooklyn, on the rooftop of the new Williamsburg Hotel.
The Water Tower, which opened in November, is built of steel and glass, rising some 175 feet. While the structure never held water, patrons don’t seem to mind as they take selfies next to the D.J. booth or on the wraparound balcony, with its panoramic views of actual water towers.
The bar is in a hotel-packed corner of Williamsburg (the Hoxton, the William Vale and the Wythe are nearby). The circular space is roughly 800 square feet and is decked out with plush sofas, a mural of graphic posters, and floor-to-ceiling windows, the better to take advantage of the views.
One Friday evening, a group of 30-something tech guys were laughing by the bar, while couples got cozy with cocktails and caviar on the chartreuse velvet sofas. As the night wore on, the crowd got younger and included a struggling actor, a film producer, a human resources director and the host of a music podcast. Some wore athleisure and fresh-white sneakers, others were in dresses and stilettos.
D.J.s spin every night. Mike Vosters, a D.J. who also calls himself a “social entrepreneur,” played a mix of vintage Stevie Wonder on a recent night, along with new hits from Ariana Grande and Jax Jones. Despite his efforts, there was more posing and snapping then dancing.
An elevator takes guests straight up to the tower. Reservations (via email) are mandatory during cocktail hours (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and recommended after 10. Walk-ins are at the discretion of the doorman, and may involve a wait and a minimum order.
Those views have a price. The “finely curated menu of artisanal cocktails,” as the hotel’s website describes it, includes the Heart of Gold, a negroni-like concoction infused with white truffles ($150). A cheaper option is the Message in a Bottle ($22), a water-themed drink made with blue algae, pineapple juice and añejo rum. “I tried to create something that looked like water,” said Rael Petit, the hotel’s beverage director.