You can’t beat the view at this new cocktail bar downtown.

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Oh, The Nest is a beauty all right — some dozen stories above Puget Sound, with en-plein-air patio and a postcard panoramic view.

It’s the place to be.

But what stands between you and Seattle’s most magnificent rooftop bar are the gatekeepers. At the lobby, a hostess asks how many are in your party, inquires if you made reservations — “no?” — then whispers to the rooftop staff over the phone before extending her arm to invite you to the elevator.

When the elevator opens to the rooftop, a dude in a gray suit with an earpiece awaits to check ID. He puts his hand out to stop the stampede, disarming one annoyed 40-something woman with, “Oh, I bet you get carded all the time.”

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She blushed. Her friend behind her wasn’t as impressed, growing impatient when she hears the gushing over the great view from those already inside.

The jaw-dropping bar atop the Thompson Hotel downtown opened in mid-June. It looks like a view from a lido deck, with a backdrop of islands, the snowcapped Olympics and ferries plowing through the Sound.

The 4,500-square-foot bar can hold 275, and still, you might have to fight through the crowd. In one corner, office workers are blowing off steam; in another, a well-coiffed clique is dressed like at some summer soiree in the Hamptons.

All around are women in black dresses, partying with guys in seersuckers or dudes in raggy tees, proving the Karl Lagerfeld maxim that “one is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress.”

All seemed to be having the time of their lives.

It looks a world apart from the grumble of rush hour on First Avenue below.

The drinks? More craft cocktails than vodka-and-soda and more complicated than any high-volume bar with a party-atmosphere needs them to be.

But beverage director John Nugent aimed high.

The menu features tweaks on classic and contemporary cocktails, from an earthy, four-agave-ingredient beet concoction to a Penicillin-inspired tipple with Japanese whiskey, lemon, almond syrup, ginger and barrel-aged bitters.

Mercifully for the staff, the bar snacks — charcuterie, olives and nuts — aren’t as high maintenance.

The design of The Nest was inspired by the famed cocktail bar The Aviary in Chicago. The bar looks like an open kitchen, with a row of four bartenders, each appearing to take the job very seriously, meticulously measuring ingredients with jiggers — only looking up to nod when drink orders are coming. And the orders are always coming.

“Negroni on the rocks!”

“Two Vespers!”

The cocktails were well executed, but more impressive, they came out remarkably fast for such a packed room — almost 200 on a Wednesday. It was barely 5.

By 6, large parties were being turned away, politely advised to book reservations online next time.

Or come early. The Nest opens at 3 p.m. It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, right?

The Nest, 110 Stewart St., opens daily 3 p.m.-midnight; cocktails are $15 and snacks range from $5-$18. Reservations require a drink minimum (206-623-4600 or http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/thompson-seattle/eat-drink).