By Dane Feldman
Photos by Dane Feldman.
New York has seen a resurgence of speakeasies in recent years, but some say they’re not really speakeasies due to the fact that we don’t live in the Prohibition Era. That may be true, but the so-called speakeasies of today still hold down a certain vibe of the bygone time period.
You might think that one such place is The Tippler, which is located on the border of Manhattan’s popular Meatpacking District and Chelsea neighborhood, but The Tippler has been in existence since before Prohibition Era, having first opened its doors in the 1890s.
Like Please Don’t Tell, The Tippler is hidden in plain sight. The bar is actually situated underneath Chelsea Market and so when two friends and I went searching for it, we found ourselves wandering around and around in the marketplace.
When we came close to giving in, I decided instead to ask a Chelsea Market security guard how to get to the bar. “You’ll never find it in here. It’s impossible,” he said, and proceeded to tell us how to get there from outside.
As it turns out, there’s an unmarked above ground entrance on 15th Street about halfway between Ninth and 10th Avenue.
Patrons who make it this far will find themselves descending into a spacious, but dim underground watering hole. We walked by the long bar and sat ourselves at a table in the back. Here, we received cocktail menus from the waitress and proceeded to gawk at the impressive selection.
On top of The Tippler’s lengthy everyday cocktail menu, the bar also offers specials. Because my friends were uneasy about the special (a gin and licorice concoction), the bartender brought it over on the house and we shared it along with three regular menu items: the Booty Collins (vodka, green tea, passion fruit, lemon, and cayenne pepper) served tall, the All-Nighter (whiskey, cacao, blackberry, Cointreau, and lemon juice) served on the rocks, and the Something Wicked (fennel seed-infused tequila, grapefruit, lime, creme de mure, and ginger beer) served tall.
The drinks are indeed “artfully crafted” and the flavor pairings are truly out of this world. Arguably, the best part about The Tippler is that patrons can have about as close to a true speakeasy experience without the steep prices of some of the similar popular spots. Other speakeasies will charge $15+, but The Tippler’s cocktails are $12 across the board, and that includes the special.
Like any solid bar, The Tippler also serves beer by the bottle, can, and on draft, wine and champagne by the glass and bottle, and even offers a solid food menu. The Tippler’s tippling patrons can munch on small plates, salad, gourmet toasts, meat and cheese boards, or paninis.
The Tippler’s rich history, impressive menu, table service, and thoughtful cocktails make a strong statement about both old and new. Without the knowledge that this place is over 100 years old, patrons may think they are just stumbling upon a great mainstay. Here, old doesn’t have to mean dated.