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Best bars in Chelsea: The essential drinking spots

The best bars in the neighborhood range from laid-back pubs to vintage-style cocktail parlors—there’s even a microbrewery at Chelsea Piers.

Whatever your poison, Chelsea offers several worthwhile drinking options. Excellent cocktail dens Raines Law Room and Rye House are among the best bars in the neighborhood. Craft-beer aficionados should head to local microbrewery Chelsea Brewing Company, or The Half King, an attitude-free pub with a decent food menu. For more inspiring fare, consult our selection of restaurants and cheap eats. Oenophiles will welcome an outpost of wine bar Terroir on the High Line.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chelsea, New York

Chelsea Brewing Company

Not only can you participate in just about every sport imaginable at Chelsea Piers, you can rehydrate afterward at the city’s largest microbrewery. The cavernous Chelsea Brewing Company provides an insider’s view of the beer-making process (glass windows show the brewers at work) and a ringside seat on the Hudson River. Malty Sunset Red Ale is always on offer, or sample a seasonal brew like the refreshing, bubbly April Showers Spring Wheat.

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Flatiron

Flatiron Lounge

Red leather booths, mahogany tables and globe-shaped lamps amp up the vintage vibe at this Art Deco space. Co-owner Julie Reiner’s notable mixology skills have made the bar a destination, and her Beijing Pitch (jasmine-infused vodka and white peach puree) is not to be missed. The 30-foot bar, built in 1927, stays packed well into the wee hours.

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Flatiron

Gallow Green

Critics' pick

There is an argument to be made that New York’s best shows are staged not in theaters, but in restaurants and bars. Like the 19th-century opera audiences who trained their binoculars on each other’s boxes, each night we seat ourselves en masse in darkened watering holes and restaurants to preen, size each other up and—almost as an afterthought—eat or drink something, too. So when a venue incorporates a layer of theatricality to the performance already being staged by its patrons, how do they react? That’s the question raised by the dreamy, overgrown rooftop bar just south of Hell’s Kitchen called Gallow Green, which sits atop a warehouse that operates as the “McKittrick Hotel” for the wildly popular interactive theater performance Sleep No More. In the early evening, the height affords a regal view of gleaming West Side buildings and the cloud-streaked horizon. A floor of pebbles and slate, trellises woven with flowers and weathered wooden tables recall an upstate country home left adorably to seed. But as the sun descends over the Hudson and darkness encroaches, something stranger occurs. Christmas lights encircling small trees and the rafters overhead blink to life. A brass band waltzes dizzyingly through a funereal tune. An attractive waitstaff in virginal white uniforms materializes out of the shadows, while actors borrowed from the show downstairs weave in between tables, talking to guests in faux-British accents and lending the place the feel of a garden party lost in t

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Chelsea

The Half King

Don’t let their contrived apathy fool you—the creative types gathered at the Half King’s yellow pine bar are probably as excited as you are to catch a glimpse of the part owner, author Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm). While you’re waiting, order a draft like Widmer, a cloudy Hefeweizen, or a specialty cocktail (we like the Parisian, made with Hendrick’s Gin, sauvignon blanc and elderflower liquor). A better bet for aspiring scribes: the weekly Monday night reading series.

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Chelsea

Raines Law Room

Critics' pick

There is no bar to belly up to at this louche lounge. Drinks are prepared in a beautiful but half-hidden back room surrounded by gleaming examples of every tool and gizmo a barkeep could wish for. From this gorgeous tableau comes an austere cocktail list, which includes classics like the Manhattan and Negroni, and variations thereof. The Old Cuban (rum, champagne, mint and bitters) smacks of a mojito with something to celebrate. And the velvety Japanese, powered by brandy and orgeat (almond-and-rosewater syrup), is so strong it could serve itself. Who needs a barstool anyway?

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Flatiron

Rye House

Critics' pick

As the name suggests, American spirits are the emphasis at this dark, sultry bar. Along with a selection of bourbons and ryes, there are gins, vodkas and rums, all distilled in the States. Using the homeland hooch, mixologists Jim Kearns and Lynnette Marrero shake and stir top-notch mixed drinks like the refreshing house punch made with arrack (a rumlike spirit) and chai-infused rye. The Creole Daiquiri combines New Orleans rum with chorizo-flavored mescal (it’s a bit like sipping a taco, which is a good thing). While the focus is clearly on drinking, there’s excellent upscale pub grub: We liked the fiery fried buffalo sweetbreads.

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Flatiron

The Tippler

This Chelsea Market cocktail joint isn’t always a great bar, but it is big and inclusive: Want a vodka drink without the judgmental sneer you’ll get at stuffier joints? There are four of them on the menu here. Prefer 1990s hip-hop to 1890s ragtime? At the Tippler, Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest bellow from the speakers. The long menu includes baffling experiments like frozen “lushies,” which drown quality spirits in a sea of slush. But for all the misses of this spasmodic mixology, there are eccentric hits like the Gin & Chronic—a cheeky gin-and-tonic variation fortified with lime, allspice liqueur and citrusy whole-dried hops. Think of the place as a large-scale recruitment booth for curious drinkers, and suddenly its flaws seem forgivable—even, in the right light, charming.

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Flatiron

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