Chelsea is one of those neighborhoods you’re bound to end up in during a lot of situations. Maybe you just got off work somewhere around 23rd Street. Maybe you need to flee Penn Station. Maybe your parents are in town and really want to see The Highline. Maybe you know people who still go to clubs in Meatpacking and you’ve agreed to meet them in the general vicinity. In any event, you’re going to need a drink beforehand. And probably afterwards as well.
Whether you’ve got a big group, a date, or something in between, here are some places we recommend for consuming alcohol in Chelsea.
Located directly under Chelsea Market, this place does get packed on weekdays around 7, or whenever YouTube and the other companies in the building get out of school for the day. But it attracts crowds for a reason: tons of space, big tables, and a rotating menu of alcoholic frozen drinks.
Your requisite Prohibition-inspired speakeasy with a quirky name and a secret door? That’d be Bathtub Gin. Walk through Stone Street Coffee to get in – there is a “bouncer” (you are dangerously close to Meatpacking, after all) but you can pretty easily grab a reservation on OpenTable to avoid any issue. As the name would indicate, gin is the focus. And there’s a bathtub.
The rooftop of The McKittrick Hotel, where “Sleep No More” takes place, is something of an extension of the nightly interactive performance/high-minded haunted house that takes place throughout the rest of the building. This means you’ll ride up in an old timey elevator with an attendant in some kind of costume, who may or may not do a card trick, and some “characters” may walk around. But for the most part, this is just a cool rooftop bar with quality cocktails.
Porchlight is a big space way west on 11th Avenue operated by Danny Meyer, which means it’s one of the better run bars around. This is a great go-to when you need to gather a large group in a fun, unpretentious environment. They have a great booze selection, as well as some excellent takes on bar food, including everything crab avocado toast to chocolate chip cookies.
True to name, Trailer Park is a trailer park-themed bar, which is actually better than it sounds. The space is jam-packed with a dizzying amount of Christmas lights, random trinkets, and other paraphernalia, which can feel either like being on an episode of Hoarders or like a place to have a great time. This is probably not the place to plan a meeting of any professional nature, but it’s a great place to kick back with a few friends over some beers and tater tots.
If you do need something more professional – a place for an easy, uncomplicated glass of wine or cocktail, hit Bar Veloce. It’s nothing too exciting, but that’s kind of the point. Plus, they have paninis.
El Quinto Pino expanded to a full size (and excellent) tapas restaurant over the past few years, but its bar room up front is a great place for a one-on-one meetup. It’s always a nice and relaxed scene here, and you can order any of the tapas dishes should you get hungry. If you do, everything’s good, but the uni panini is where it’s at.
An Irish pub owned by the guy who wrote A Perfect Storm, The Half King is supposed to have a “writerly” vibe. Which, sure. Mostly it’s just a solid bar with plenty of smaller rooms and a good selection of beers.