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
- Price band: 2/4
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.
- Chelsea Piers, Pier 59, 18th St, (at West Side Hwy), 10011
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.
- 37 W 19th St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves)
- Rated as: 3/5
- Price band: 3/4
- Critics choice
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
- 530 W 27th St, (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 10001
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.
- 505 W 23rd St, (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 10011
- Critics choice
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
- 48 W 17th St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves)
- Price band: 4/4
- Critics choice
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
- 11 W 17th St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves)
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
- Chelsea Market, 425 W 15th St, (between Ninth and Tenth Aves)