Great Views At The Bar Nearly Always Mean Higher Drink Prices

No two bars are created equal. The gamut runs from utilitarian dive to sexy cocktail bar to Disney World (as in, you can literally order a knockout cocktail at Epcot, if you feel like it). But with this wide range of scenes comes a wide range of prices, and when you want a killer view at the bar, prepare to dish out accordingly.

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Biltmore Winery is serving world-class vino and one-of-a-kind mountain views (talk about terroir!), but a visit during the Christmas season will set you back $140. Between Florence and Siena lies Italy's iconic Antinori Chianti Classico winery — and you almost certainly won't be able to book a reservation even if you want it really, really badly. At Castello di Amorosa winery in scenic Napa Valley, a tasting costs $60, and cocktails run for roughly $15 each at Vertigo rooftop bar in Bangkok. 

Luckily, knockout views can also be found outside of destination bars. At Bar Blondeau on the sixth floor of the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, guests can overlook the East River while sipping $19 Verbena Highballs. The joint's happy hour is even called "Sunset Hour" as a nod to the view. But a 15-minute subway ride east will take you to Old Stanley's, where that same $19 will get you a beer and a well shot three times — just instead of a riverfront view, you're looking at no-frills digs and wood-paneled walls.

Mid-range prices often meet mid-range views

Is shelling out for a scenic view worth it? The answer is pretty personal. At a bar with a view, you're not just paying for the drink in your hand; you're paying for the experience. If you want to take a covet-worthy Instagram pic of your glass of bubbly glistening in the lights of the cityscape below, you're paying for that, too. Still, great views and great prices sometimes do intersect, and you can find them if you know where to look and are willing to be a little flexible.

Enter the intermediate realm, aka "the exceptions." For example, Night of Joy is a cozy, intimate rooftop bar in NYC that totes mid-range drink prices for mid-range views. It's located near the bustle of the Williamsburg Bridge, but you can also see the Manhattan skyline in the near-distance. It's a pretty scene and a helluva fun bar, but you won't find glistening riverfront views or mountain scenes. In Chicago, Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen opens its rooftop beer garden during the summer months, and it's a sight to behold: Affordable pints can be enjoyed in the sunshine, gazing out at the lake and the pretty, picturesque Logan Square area below. If you happen to find yourself in Stockholm, Fotografiska is a modern photography museum that also happens to have a fairly affordable cocktail bar. You can bring your drink with you as you take in the art.

Affordable views favor the daring

The whole "great views are expensive" rule really depends on what your personal idea of a "great view" entails. Seeking these out often requires a little local knowledge (aka "pro tips"). NYC, Chicago, and areas of California, for instance, all have great ferry boats that run every hour or so. For the price of a ferry ride — usually $10-$20 — and a 12-ouncer, you've got yourself an architecture river cruise and a light buzz.

Another great way to take in some sights as you sip without breaking the bank is to hit up a theme bar. For instance, McSorley's Ale House is one of the oldest operational bars in Manhattan — the walls are covered in framed historical newspaper clippings and memorabilia that look like they belong in a museum more than a drinking establishment. As you take in the decor, pints of beer ("light" or "dark") are wicked affordable. It's the same deal with Jimmy's Corner, an unassuming, boxing-themed bar in Times Square with plenty to look at while you and a friend sip two drinks that collectively cost just $10. Bar Vegan in Atlanta has $8 wine on Wednesdays and a chic nightlife vibe that fosters conversation and inspires a little cheekiness. And at the end of the day, with a few good friends, a six-pack, and somebody who has a roof you can all sit on top of, anywhere can be a rooftop bar if you're creative.