NYC Date Idea: Fire Escape Drinks

Alex and I are always lamenting the fact that we don’t have a garden or balcony or any outdoor space. Once Toby goes to bed, we’re pretty much stuck inside for the night. But then! We had a lightbulb moment…

We could hang out on our fire escape. So we’ve started a little ritual of climbing out there on random warm evenings, and last night, we decided to snap some photos. First, we dress up to make it feel more like a real date. (I usually wear jeans and a T-shirt at home…or, let’s be honest…pajamas:)

Then we climb out our bedroom window. (Whoot, whoot! Nice legs!)

We sip and chat, three stories up. We can hear the street noise (cars honking), the trees (leaves rustling), and a restaurant garden nearby (people murmuring, glasses clinking)…

Do you ever drink rose? Sometimes it gets a bad rap, but it’s the perfect refreshing drink for a warm evening. And I love the bright pink hue; it just feels like summer. (Side note: You can spot the restaurant garden below us, to the left of Alex.)

Our fire escape looks across a courtyard onto another apartment building, just like Rear Window.

We love our little outdoor drinks, and I’m glad, after six years of living here, that we finally thought of it!

Do you have a fire escape? Or a balcony? Or (gasp) an actual garden? Be still my heart.

(Update: I’m wearing this silk polka-dot skirt and these Swedish Hasbeen sandals.)

  1. Great idea and you guys are such a happy, lovely couple :)

  2. ohhh sweet. We have a balcony a garden and a terrace.. it’s great. I would die without it. So we eat and drink coffee and everything outside…and evenings are pure magic…even in December we sit out bundled up in blankets ;)

  3. Isn’t it fun when you discover nice little things that have been there all the time but you haven’t noticed?

    We have a balcony but since it rains aaaaaaall the time, we can barely hang out there :-(

  4. There are moments when my DH and I are sitting out under the only tree on our back-40, we hear the wind, smell the fresh air and time stops for a moment….Judith, Texas

  5. When I lived in San Francisco we hung out on out roof a lot. We did have a fire escape and on Halloween we would dress it up and yell at all the kids to come over and we would lower down candy from our 2nd floor apartment. All the kids loved it! But to be honest I think we enjoyed it the most. :)

  6. Great idea! My partner and I sometimes have date nights on our balcony :)

  7. We had drinks on the balcony tonight after my husband got home from work! A beer for him, a glass of rose for me. A little outdoors time makes everything better!

  8. Anonymous says...

    This summer we drank a lot of Rose , a great wine for very hot climates. We went Spanish and added lots of ice.A few years ago my daughter was in New York for University and had a great apartment in the West Village where she sat out on the fire escape with her dinner and a glass of wine. A great New York moment.
    Shelley Perth Western Australia

  9. Two weeks ago my husband and I had the same lightbulb moment. I am such a front porch/patio girl, so it’s been killing me that our current 100 year old apartment has nothing of the sort…. but we do have a fire escape! So far we’ve done sunny morning coffee dates out there. I like the date night idea. We’ll have to try that :)

  10. Love this post! I can definitely relate. When I lived on the UES, I had a fire escape and a stoop. I often perched on the fire escape with a cup of coffee and watched people pass below. Now I have a balcony, but I almost prefer the fire escape. I felt closer to the ground and to the people. Thanks for writing on this uniquely New York topic :)


  11. Very neat date night idea, we used to sit on our roof in the city when the kids went to bed…you could get to it through our daughter’s bedroom window. Now we have more than enough fields to walk through’s heavenly. although not a restaurant for miles

  12. I am totally buying that skirt. Like right now. Thanks!

  13. Move out here to Brooklyn! You can have a backyard!

  14. It’s all about these little snippets and moments that you seize in your life! Good for you guys.

  15. this looks amazing!!! my nyc apartment does not have a fire escape and i’m on the 10th floor so if there ever is a fire….i don’t know what i would do haha.

  16. Sally says...

    I have to give you mad props for mentioning Rear Window. When I was living in the West Village, I would look out my back window and always think about that movie…(And oh, to have Grace Kelly’s wardrope!)

  17. Anonymous says...

    I had rose at a party recently. It wasn’t the seet variety I remember from college. It was much drier and more sophisticated. I loved it!

  18. What a cute idea. It just shows that a getaway is sometimes a state of mind rather than a place.

  19. this is too sweet!!! while we have a large yard with a two tier deck, i dream of living in the city and hearing the noise all night long. grass is always greener, huh? :)

    a peek of chic

  20. Painting the trim green in your bedroom? Why you clever girl. :)

  21. seriously you’re adorable! we don’t have any green space either since we live downtown also. And our small balcony looks onto a construction site where a new tower is coming in. So we don’t get to go outside for dates much.

    but this reminds me of my old apt with my university roommate…we used our fire escape the exact same way and it was lovely.

  22. Joanna this was really cute. I love when you share more personal things like this. Looks fun and romantic!

  23. So cute! We have a front yard. It’s small and on a main street. We have a table and chair for it but we keep it in the shed and have yet to bring it out and use it this spring / summer. We really should take advantage of it more!

  24. Claire says...

    We have a big front yard… and a back yard with a patio, table to seat 12 and bbq. but… maintaining it takes a lot of time. sometimes i long to live in an apartment! but this is australia, and you have to have a house in the suburbs with a backyard, right? plus, then we couldn’t have our adorably gorgeous golden retriver :)

  25. Oh fire escape drinks… they have a special place in my heart. When I first moved to the city in 2003, my boyfriend at the time lived in a loft with huge fire escapes that overlooked the Tribeca Grand Hotel. They had special oversized pillows that lived out there and it was one of our favorite places to sit and people watch. Memories!

  26. Awww, such a cute little idea. I hope you continue this for years to come.

  27. Anonymous says...

    This is so darling! I hope one day to have sweet quirky traditions such as this. I live in California where there is a lot of room so most everyone has a place to step outside. It’s something I should take more advantage of — or appreciate more. I must say though, this post totally warmed my heart.

  28. this is adorable! such a sweet little date spot ;)

  29. I love this cute idea you guys are the cutest!

    I have a garden(!) and am currently enjoying the balmy evenings with also rosé (i like white zinfandel) and a good book- current read is Birdsong and is sad but fabulous! X

  30. a wise middle aged couple who I want to be like when I grow up (just gotta meet the right hubby) got me hooked on rosé, on patios, on summer evenings. it’s the best!


    And yes, the apartment I live in has a nice front porch with tables and chairs, it’s far back from the road, and we’re surrounded by bushes and trees and flowers, so even though the neighborhood is not very private or quiet, I feel like I’m in my own haven when I sit out there. One of my favorite things to do is to sit out there and read.


  32. Love it! We did this the other night after out baby went to sleep, in our front yard, where we have a glider bench. We had gin and tonics. Next time I will consider dressing up… or even getting dressed! I was in my jammies:)

  33. Anonymous says...

    This is great!

  34. How I miss that NYC-sound… a lovely idea! Best greetings from Vienna (its so quiet here, too quiet)

  35. Kelly says...

    This is a great idea, and adorable post. You mentioned before that Alex is terribly afraid of heights… is it scary to be up high like that? I am nervous of heights as well.

    We have just a tiny patio, with no furniture yet, but I am inspired to use it anyway and just put a blanket down, some lights up, and bring a bottle of rose wine outside in the summer evenings.

  36. I love that. That’s what my ex and I used to do in SF. We’d climb out onto this stoop outside our apartment right by eucalyptus trees and bring wine. It was wonderful.

  37. what a cute idea!

    over the 2+ years we have been at our current rental house, we have put in a big ol’ garden (with our landladies’ blessings!) for growing food and all kinds of flowers. Plus, our back yard is flanked on two sides by tall stands of fir and hemlock, so it basically feels like we live in the woods; I love watching the last of each day’s sunlight catching in the treetops.

  38. Are you sure it’s legal to hang out on the fire escape?

  39. We have a huge deck and yard, but because we live in the Pacific Northwest the weather doesn’t let us use it very often, or at least not very enjoyably. We’re hoping to add a roof to one portion so we can snuggle out there no matter the weather :)

    Thanks for the reminder to use it though! Your fire escape dates look so fun :)

  40. Great date night idea! I wish we had a way to do this.

  41. I can’t believe you didn’t think of it before! Very romantic. We’re lucky to have a garden complete a nest of blackbirds chirping. We have to keep vigil lately to stop the neighbour’s cat from pouncing for the kill. A perfect excuse to sit out with a glass of wine in the evening sun!

  42. Funny thing, we have a huge garden (and happy hour in the garden is a favourite pastime), but I am so jealous of your fire escape perch! It looks just awesome and so very NYC! Here’s our patch, if you are curious…

  43. That is just the sweetest thing! I love your Madwell polka dot skirt! I love my terrace on warm summer nights-it becomes a main living area in the summer!

  44. It all sounds incredibly romantic! it even sounds like a nice place to escape to when you want a moment alone. Love your skirt!

  45. Screened in porch, so no mosquito issues…and we use it as often as we can. It’s viable about 8.5 mos each year (two months are too cold, and the other 1.5 are too hot despite the shade). :)

  46. love this post. the first picture of alex cracks me up.

  47. We have a huge yard and have a hammock strung between two trees that we share. Love it! ALSO love your polka dot skirt!

  48. Anonymous says...

    As much as I love and miss NY (I grew up in Manhattan), this is one of the many reasons why I’m glad I made the move to DC! My fiance and I live in a good sized apartment right in the thick of things but we still have our own private rooftop garden space. Perfect for cold drinks on hot summer nights… or ok, that’s most nights in DC for about a 9 month stretch.

    -Carol S

  49. nights out on the balcony are my favourites! even in winter, just wrap yourselves up and take some mulled wine with you :)

  50. This is such a fun idea!

  51. We have a teeny tiny house, but a beautiful garden. We bought our house, because of how much we loved our garden. One day you will have one.

  52. love this idea! it actually looks like you guys had a night out and i love that you can hear the sounds of the city and nearby restaurant. my husband and i feel a bit cooped up when our daughter goes to bed too. you’ve inspired me to clean up our balcony a bit and put it into use!

  53. That’s so cute haha. We have a balcony… but we are so many floors up it’s crazy windy. I do this we should use it more often, though… but I am petrified of heights.

  54. So cute!! ;D

  55. Michelle says...

    my old roommate and i used to hang out on our fire escape in the summer… its lovely.

    speaking of cute dates… thank you so much for posting your SailBoat date… i sent the post to my boyfriend as a hint (not very subtle)because i had been dying to try it.. plus i love all things preppy and nautical… he booked a day sail last weekend (when it was 75 degrees and sunny!) along with an amazing brunch at NorthEnd grill. Hes always planning amazing things for me but it definitely helps to give him some inspirations sometimes. THANKS AGAIN!!!

  56. aww too cute! We have a yard, and this is the first summer we will really be taking advantage of it for relaxing. In the past, we just did the yard work and that was it. Now that we have kids, and one is old enough to want to go out and play, we got a wading pool, two lawn chairs for us, and are trying to make it look nice haha. I want to get a grill once I find a sale. The yard is partly torn up, we are trying to put in a driveway, but once that is done, I have plans for some flower beds and a veggie garden :)

  57. This is such a cute idea! :) I love your blog! :)

  58. This sounds very fun! We have a balcony, but never hang out on it… Maybe next time!

  59. I love that you two have found your own space like that. When I lived in Leipzig (Germany), some of the students who lived in the same apartment building would climb out onto the framework that was put up while the building’s exterior was being remodeled. I thought that was a great idea, but sadly, my side of the building wasn’t being remodeled.

  60. This is such a cute idea, you guys are adorable!

  61. I have got 6 acres of grass and gardened goodness now, BUT when I lived in Brooklyn Heights my husband and I used to do this a lot. I also went out on it to read by myself a lot. Felt like a private treehouse!

  62. This is the stuff we New Zealanders only get to see in movies! Such a cute date.

    As many New Zealanders do, we have a garden with sandpit and treehouse for the girls out back, and at the front my aviary of budgies and quails and also the classic kiwi playtoy, a tyre swing (literally a car tyre refashioned) suspended on a rope from an oak tree limb above.

  63. I love this “date night” idea. And your outfit is so cute! My husband and I have a back deck surrounded by crepe myrtle trees. It’s amazingly private in the spring and summer when the trees have blossomed. My summertime goal is to add potted plants, flowers and herbs to give it more life. Right now, it’s kind of “rustic.” ;)

  64. Very fun!! We have a garden but we’re in Columbus, Ohio so we don’t have the cool NYC. My friends and I had margaritas and I lit the tiki torches after Cougar Town yesterday. The restaurants you have are making me drool right now. And Madonna in September…I hope to get there for that concert!

  65. AH!! The fire escape reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys.

  66. That’s such a good idea to get dressed up for it. I’m a victim to comfy pajamas and need to nix that habit for the bf.
    We moved into our apartment 6 months ago and are just starting to enjoy our amazing patio. Just this past weekend I took a luscious glass of rose out there and absolutely enjoyed it!
    You can check out the picture from our patio here :

    Thanks for the great idea for evening summer nights!

  67. This is SO Sweet! Way to make lemonade out of lemons, you guys! These are the kinds of moments you’ll remember and smile about for years to come. =)

  68. That is so much fun! Three cheers for thinking of it! (P.S. You two are such a fun couple. I’m still single but when I do get married, I hope my marriage is as awesome as yours seems to be!)

  69. My husband and I have a house in a suburb of Milwaukee, WI with a GORGEOUS backyard (the backyard is the reason we bought this house in the first place) and we spend every gorgeous summer night drinking beer on our patio, looking at all the plants I have managed to kill. :)

  70. You two are the cutest. I love that you not only go out on your fire escape, but you get dressed up to do so as well!

    I have a patio at my condo. I love being outside and while I sit out there often (I post pictures doing so on my blog often!), my hubby and I don’t go out there together enough. I think you have inspired me to eat dinner outside tonight!

  71. You guys are adorable!!! I love that idea! We don’t have a fire escape in LA but we do sneak out on our front stoop to have a drink now and then:)

  72. Love this! and rose. I also live in a teeny one bedroom apartment (in St. Louis) and have no outdoor space. We spend a lot more time at parks as a result of it, but we’re thinking of moving to a different neighborhood where balconies are standard (it’s old and french). I wish we had a fire escape though! Love your skirt too – if I wasn’t on a fiancé imposed “shopping ban” it would be mine!

  73. Oh my roommate and I used to hang out on our fire escape and drink and watch people go by in Astoria. Now I have a backyard with a porch and hammock.. more maintenance but worth it to me! You guys look so cute.

  74. Rachael says...

    Yes! In London I have a very New York-esque fire escape on one side that leads down t o our communal garden/barbeque area and a balcony on the other that overlooks the local skate park. The balcony garden is well underway and we’re always hanging out with our neighbours on the fire escape. Just lush

  75. I love how innovative you guys are as a couple. Very sweet. Your husband really is a good sport :)


  76. that looks so fun! i love your outfit. i am currently between apartments (about to move and living with a friend right now.) my sweetie and i lived in a little studio with no balcony, but we lived right next to a great park with lots of trails and fields and a lake. we liked to go walk through there, name and feed the ducks, and sometimes picnic. : )

  77. Wallace says...

    I love your green phone case. I’m apparently color-blind because I thought my phone case was that color when I bought it – but when I got home it was yellow. Hmmm… it’s growing on me, but I still like yours better. :)

  78. Waahh! I love it! I live in San Francisco. We don’t have a balcony, but we do live right on Dolores Park. On nice evenings, we go to the top of the park on our favorite bench and share a drink while overlooking the city. I love those spontaneous eve’s.

  79. Your skirt is stunning, and beautiful with the simple white tshirt! I’m lucky and have a garden, but because I live a little way outside the centre of London, I take it for granted as nearly everyone has one. It must be so different if you’re in the middle of a city!

  80. Sarah H. says...

    We do have a large yard (a major work-in-progress though!), and we love spending evenings out our patio, sipping margaritas, and watching our garden grow. It makes me feel happy and less wistful for what I may be missing by not leading a big-city life. That said, I LOVE your creative outdoor “date spot.” Just so sweet. :)

  81. We’re lucky and have quite a big garden, and it’s great to get outside in the warm weather. I’m jealous of your fire escape though! :)

  82. Rose is actually a perfect accompaniment to bbq and roast chicken… don’t be ashamed to drink it!

  83. Olivia says...

    Ha, I love this! Very inventive. And I love how you dress up to make it more special. I dream of one day having an actual backyard, but in the meantime my husband, baby and I live in a small condo with a balcony in Chicago. You’ve inspired me to designate a ‘date night’ on our balcony when our little guy goes to bed. Great idea!

  84. That does sound like fun. My hubby and I have created our own indoor date night too:) We live in BK and we take time to enjoy each others company when the little ones are asleep.

  85. That is so terribly cute and so very NYC. I imagine you telling an adult Toby the story of how you snuck out for dates while he was asleep :)
    I’ve always been a utilizer of stoops during my years of city-living. Now in the mountains I’m always out on the deck! Luxury!

  86. Hey, Joanna,
    Do you have any tips for apartment hunting in the city? I’m moving there for grad school soon and I’ve loved your previous guides to NYC.

  87. What a perfect solution. My bf and I have perfected the “porch date” where we enjoy drinks, good music, great conversation, and one another’s company.

  88. what a perfect evening! we recently got an outdoor fire pit and have been having evening bon fire dates.

  89. cute idea! always finding ways to make it work ;)

    great post and great idea!

    alissa b

  90. we have a shared small rooftop balcony with a couple of chairs – we need to get there early to make it our spots during summer evenings.

  91. Such a cute idea! I am also yearning for outdoor space. Random question: do you feel safe with a fire escape? I have always thought it must be very easy for burglars to get into flats with those stairs! Am I just being paranoid?

  92. So cute! And although I totally cracked up at RuBee’s description of Rose wines (love the word naff), I think it can be really great! Have you had sparkling rose? Now that’s yummy.

    I’m in DC and my must-have was a place with outside space. I’ve got a little backyard that’s half parking spot, half yard, but it’s so nice to be able to have a small table and chairs and potted plants and twinkly lights!

  93. I’ve got a big backyard and a bit of a wraparound porch so you BET I spend my summery nights out there. Just last night one very sweet boy & I drank a couple beers together and watched shooting stars.

  94. Fire escapes make me think of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love that you have a Rear Window-esque apartment view.. its so very New York :) You two look like a couple of kids sneeking out to drink and its so romantic :)

  95. dmb says...

    I live in queens and once saw a girl sitting on her fire-escape reading. And then I hear the couple in the apartment below us sitting on their fire-escape chatting at night. This is the final push I needed to have some wine w/ my hubby on ours! thanks :)

  96. How cute :) My other half and I like to spend time on our balconies (he has two at his apartment and I have one – given it is LA).

    mon amy

  97. i think my irrational fear of heights would inhibit me from doing this….but, in unrelated news, your skirt is adorable!

  98. How creative and sweet! Another great summer wine I love is Moscato! So light and sweet tasting.

  99. That is hilarious…so innovative! We do love our front yard and rooftop deck but something about a fire escape makes it feel like you are breaking the rules. Reminds me of when my boyfriend in high school would sneak in my bedroom window by climbing up the garage roof on a ladder. My parents can’t believe it now as they never heard me. LOL.
    Enjoy your secret dates.

  100. no fire escape for us, but i’m always eager to climb out onto my sister’s! cheers to impromptu date nights and glasses of rosé! nothing says summer quite like it.

  101. This reminds me of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” :) I love those photos of you both climbing in and out of the windows!

  102. Very inventive!
    I live on a 10 acre horse farm, and my boyfriend’s house has just shy of a half-acre, so no fire escape dates for us. We do enjoy dining outside…it really is the best! Glad you guys found a way to get out, too!

  103. I think it’s very NYC of you :) I always picture New Yorkers spending time on their fire escapes. We have a balcony and I try to spend as much time out there as possible container gardening, reading, dining and drinking :)

  104. We used to do that when we lived in NYC! We had a tiny apartment on West 107th and Broadway, but it will always be dear to my heart because of our fire escape memories — picnics, big mason jars of Pimm’s cup, and our sweet elderly Cuban neighbors engaged lively conversation downstairs. Good stuff.

  105. Love this! Talk about making the most of what you’ve got! We have a small balcony off of our condo. We really should use it more. You just inspired me! Thanks for that! :)

  106. LOVE IT!!! ive always thought a fire escape would be a fun spot to people watch and hang out on (if i lived in nyc), but never thought as a date night– good on you two!!

  107. This is sooo cute!

    My husband and I have been feeling very blah after having our first baby 7 months ago (relationship wise), so we decided to finally spruce up our hot tub in our backyard and get it in working order. We hung white twinkle lights around the gazebo that the hot tub sits in and for the past 4 nights, after the baby is in bed, we go out to our little backyard oasis with, you guessed it, a bottle of rose! :)

  108. I love it! My husband and I used to do that when we had a fire escape in St. Louis. It was the best place to open a bottle of rosé and watch those amazing midwestern storms blow in! We haven’t had a fire escape since moving to Europe and we miss it. Fire escape dates are wonderful!

  109. in my midtown toronto apartment, fire escape drinks and dates are a common occurrence in the summertime. my guy and i like to make sangria and sip it out back. if im feeling romantic, i will bring out some tealight candles or sparklers for special occasions :)

  110. My boyfriend just moved here from Brooklyn and never had a balcony or garden. Now we are living in Indiana and we have a big back patio, front porch, yard and garden for less than what he paid for his room in in BK. He’s a pretty happy a camper these days! :) Sitting outside for drinks is my favorite thing about summer!I love your fire escape dates!

  111. what an adorable date, such a cute idea. :)

  112. Genius. And so romantic. When summer hits, I always feel like moving back to New York. This may have put me over the top.

  113. Wow..Can u guys get ANY COOLER thank that? :) Love the idea! :) I’m pretty lucky that i have a nice balcony and it’s very relaxing to enjoy a glass of wine, good reading and/or a nice conversation!

  114. Now that’s a true NYC date! Love your outfit! We’re lucky enough to have a terrace overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge which we can’t get enough of when the weather is nice.

  115. That is such a sweet idea and your polks dot skirt looks totally adorable on you, Joanna. Btw: Balazs and I have a balcony so during summertime we pretty much spend our evenings hanging around there, drinking wine and chatting away. xo

  116. we have a small back yard with an orange tree and garden. its nice in the summer, last night we sat out there with our good friends and had dessert, it was magical,.

  117. (Really like your blog, by the way! Greetings from Leiden, Holland)

  118. HOW CUTE ARE YOU!!!???

  119. fun idea! thanks for sharing! you two are adorable.

  120. Cute idea! I’m lucky enough to have a backyard… but not so lucky to get to live in New York city!! I guess there are always trade-offs:)

  121. thanks for these sweet comments:) rubee, i love your slang:)

  122. You two are darling!

    Oh what lengths parents go to to enjoy some alone time! Love this idea!

    Lindsay @ Darling Clementine

  123. I wish! Our neighborhood has a ton of break-ins via fire escape-accessible windows, so ours is pretty much barricaded. Our outdoor “dates” usually involve standing outside our building instead :)

  124. That is a very cute idea! It’s just so New York! I love rose in summer. Yes it’s a bit naff, but it’s refreshing in the sun. x

  125. We have a terrace with our rental apartment: it’s huge, with grey concrete tiles and it’s overlooked by a lot of other apartments. But, we’ve bought an olive tree, fuchsia’s, bamboo plants and a lot of other plants and now we sit there all the time on our relaxing lounge sofa! It’s great!

  126. How unbelievable cute are you two!!!!!

  127. Here in DC we (the yard-less at least!) are stoop cocktailers…

    I miss my little “balcony” in my West Village apartment, though. The foot traffic below made it feel much more like an exclusive wine bar.

    And I LOVE rose… not ashamed to admit that it is more often than not, my fave drink.

    Thank you for the peek into your evening… a blog version of “Rear Window.”

  128. Anonymous says...

    That is seriously the most romantic thing I have ever heard! It actually made me a little teary and wistful.

  129. That just goes to show, Jo, that it’s not about the place, it’s about the company you keep! :-] I say that while staring out at my huge backyard, with a hummingbird feeder being visited. Sorry. :-))

  130. This is too good.

  131. UM, FUN!!! How innovative, you guys! I love it… and rose ;o)