Here's your NYC roof deck entertaining survival guide

Mimi headsht
By Mimi OConnor  |
May 24, 2019 - 12:00PM

More chilling, less running back and forth to your apartment. 


Memorial Day has arrived and that means it’s grilling season! But for most New York City residents, firing up the barbie is not as simple as walking out the back door and turning on the grill or lighting up some briquettes. For many, it means leaving your apartment and heading up to the roof—via stairs, elevator, perhaps even a ladder. The situation once you’re there also varies widely; some roof decks are equipped to the max with cabanas and running water, others, less so.

Either way, nothing will kill your grill vibe faster than having to run back and forth to your apartment to get things you didn’t realize you’d need, or dealing with a mishap easily avoided (rookie mistake: shattered wine glass).

To help, Brick Underground has compiled a New York City roof deck entertaining survival guide. Stock up on these items before you head up this season. (And, of course, make sure your warm weather activity is legal and approved by your building, landlord, and the city.) For more on outdoor space good practices in NYC click here.

Carry it all

A good basket stocked with many of the essentials (plates, utensils, cups/glasses) goes a long way in keeping you organized and prepared. This one is a collapsible, insulated cooler that comes with melamine plates, flatware, acrylic wine glasses, and napkins. 

Picnic at Ascot Collapsible Insulated Picnic Basket, Bed Bath & Beyond, $90



If you are hauling a lot of stuff, this could be a good option. Scout bags are roomy, and well-made; this one has four exterior pockets and a ziptop closure. 

The BJ Bag, Scout, $55


JoyJolt Spirits

Shatterproof glasses

The less glass, the better. Plastic wine glasses have come a long way (we recommend stemless for fewer spills). Red Solo cups are classic, but less sustainable; reusable metal cups are a nice alternative.

JoyJolt Spirits Stemless Wine Glasses 15 OunceAmazon, $14 for four 



Cooler on wheels

It’s warm out. You’re going to need some ice (or ice packs) to keep perishable things cool, not to mention your beverages of choice. This one even has cup holders on the lid. 

Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler, Amazon, $43


Oriental Trading Company


Wind is one of those things you don’t really think about until it’s blown an entire stack of napkins all over the roof deck and beyond. Be prepared and buy (or make) something to keep items Earth-bound.

Metallic Colored Balloon Weights, Oriental Trading Company, $10 for 12


Sun protection

Another often overlooked naturally-occurring phenomenon aspirational lifestyle shots don’t really address: It can get freakin’ hot on a roof deck, and shade can be sparse. Be prepared with both sunscreen, shades, maybe even a hat.

Banana Boat SunComfort Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50+, Walgreens, $12



Bug protection/repellent

Wind will actually help keep pests like mosquitos somewhat at bay, but you shouldn’t count on it. Some bug defense is especially needed if you’re hanging out into the evening.

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Spray, Target, $5


Garbage/recycling/compost bags

Easy to forget, important to have. Stash these in your tote/basket.

Glad Recycling Tall Kitchen Bags,, $12 for 45 


Williams Sonoma

Bottle opener/corkscrew

Another item to tuck in the tote to have if needed. (This one is obviously fully-loaded, but could be handy for adding some fresh Parmesan cheese to a salad if that's your thing. Also a nice gift for a host if you're a guest.)

Gentlemen's Hardware Kitchen Multi-Tool, Williams Sonoma, $24.99


Boxed wine

Things have come a long way since the boxed wine of the '80s. Plus, it’s one less thing to spill and/or break.

Bota Box Sauvingon Blanc, ShopWineDirect, $19 for three liters



Good for quick clean ups and messy hands, especially helpful if there's no water source around.

Wet Ones Sensitive Skin Hand Wipes, Amazon, $12


Fire extinguisher 

Safety first! 

Recreational Fire Extinguisher, Home Depot, $30 for two


Mimi headsht

Mimi OConnor

Contributing Writer

Mimi O’Connor has written about New York City real estate for publications that include Brick Underground, Refinery29, and Thrillist. She is the recipient of two awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors for interior design and service journalism. Her writing on New York City, parenting, events, and culture has also appeared in Parents, Red Tricycle, BizBash, and Time Out New York.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.