The massive Chelsea Market building has, as it turns out, a massive basement. Newly opened in one corner of the buildings' lower depths is The Tippler (425 W. 15th St), a space and an endeavor on a fairly massive scale for a bar focussed on proper cocktails. But the design team has managed to turn out a rather comfortable room with lots of nooks and crannies, making it the most intimate tennis court-sized room in town. A clever cocktail menu overseen by the Tippling Brothers navigates between
Wrought iron fixtures, oriental rugs, acres of exposed brick and customized retro-styled fridges forge a pleasingly but not cloyingly turn-of-the-century atmosphere, with an array of classic cocktails to complete the scenario.
The cocktail list overseen by the Tippling Bros. swings between classsics and inventive, even ballsy creations like the "Gin & Chronic": Plymouth, hopps, spcied lime and tonic, garnished with a sprig of hopps that looks nothing so much as a bud of weed. Mad drinkable.
But the simple-but-smashing innovation that stands out may be the "lushies"--(primarily) classic cocktails served in frozen slushy form (or, in Simpson's parlance, "Squishee") . The bar had been slated to open mid summer but of course scheduled opening dates rarely go as planned, and in late September a frozen drink might not seem to make sense. But it does. The "Snow Growni" was a perfect way to hold onto something of summer, and as one who abused his Negroni privileges over the warmer months this seemed to reinvent and extend a halcyon season by reimaging the drink. And one even forgives the punny titles such as "Spazerac" (also surprisingly succesful). And one must applaud the ribald spirit it took to name a drink the "Pearl Harbor Necklace" (Finlandia, house melon syrup, pineapple & tapioca pearls).
The Tippler is a welcome addtion to an area crowded with flashy and crowded and short on the tucked away and properly adult. After fighting through the midday mob scene that is the Chelsea Market's indoor promenade of meandering tourists, helicopter parents and New Jersey cougars on shopping sprees one wonders how long it can retain its chillness. But as a neighbor I'm crossing my fingers.