The Copper Still Puts its Spirited Stamp on Chelsea | chelseanow.com

The Copper Still Puts its Spirited Stamp on Chelsea

The Empire State Building’s reflection leaves little doubt you’re in the Chelsea location of The Copper Still. | Photo courtesy of The Copper Still

BY MARK NIMAR | This August, three Irishmen invaded Chelsea — but instead of bearing rifles and swords, they stormed the neighborhood with Aberfeldy scotch, oak & caramel bourbon, and Connemara whiskey.

They serve these spirits, and over 150 other types of whiskey, at their new bar, The Copper Still, which opened last month at the corner of W. 22nd and Seventh Ave. The owners — Michael Brannigan, Shane Buggy, and Brendan Clinkscales — all born and bred Irishmen, started the bar four years ago in the East Village after meeting one another in the neighborhood’s bartending scene. None of them had ever owned a bar in Manhattan before, where bars often open and then disappear faster than a leprechaun. But the risk has paid off. Their East Village establishment has done so well, they’ve been able to bring the party over to Chelsea.

And the new pub in Chelsea is thriving. The white wooden tavern was chock-full on a recent Friday night at 7 p.m., buzzing and humming with the conversation of friends gathered around pine square tables. Hanging copper lanterns and white candles light the dark space, as 30-somethings dine on deviled eggs, cordon bleu fritters, and honey bourbon wings. Wooden barrelheads are mounted high on the white walls, bearing the names Teeling Whiskey, Smooth Ambler, and Jefferson’s Ridiculously Small Batch Bourbon.

Patrons enjoying food and spirits at The Copper Still on a Friday night. | Photo by Mark Nimar

Then, of course, there’s the liquor. “We have our own private barrel from Woodford Reserve,” said Brendan Clinkscales. A handsome Irishman with bright green eyes, Clinkscales uses this private barrel of whiskey to make one of the bar’s signature drinks, the Still Fashionable, which is also made of Combier Rouge, orange bitters, and Bigallet China-China. Whether you fancy cocktails or prefer something a little less strong, there truly is something for everybody at The Copper Still. Behind the red oak bar, “We have 150 whiskeys, 30 mezcals, 20 gins, 20 rums, 15 vodkas, 14 wines by the glass, and 12 beers on tap,” Clinkscales noted.

Being a bartender is more than just a job for Clinkscales — it’s a passion. “I enjoy making cocktails and figuring them out,” he said. “I enjoy the atmosphere [of the bar]… and I enjoy people for the most part.” And when it comes to liquor, nothing gets by him: Clinkscales personally samples each and every bottle that comes into the bar to assure that only the highest quality spirits are being served.

For Clinkscales though, an Irish bar is about more than just the booze and fried pickles. “It’s a place where neighbors get to meet. Especially in a digital world where everyone is on the phone… You meet people here who may be on your block where you wouldn’t meet otherwise.” Clinkscales has also noticed that customers are coming to the Copper Still for a genuine communal experience that’s difficult to find in a busy, sometimes lonely, city like New York. “The way customers eat is starting to change,” he observed. “People are starting to share food more.” The Copper Still offers sharing plates as well as bar snacks and entrees to satisfy customers’ desire to have a shared culinary experience with friends and loved ones.

Brendan Clinkscales, co-owner, says The Copper Still is a place where people can put down their phones and connect. | Photo by Mark Nimar

But whether Clinkscales is serving bar snacks, whiskey, or a cocktail, it always comes down to one thing: great service. “An Irish bar is about the service,” he said, adding, “What makes an Irish bar is the people.” And watching the bar’s patrons, gathered around candlelit tables with smiles on their faces as a hint of autumn air flows through the open windows, one feels that The Copper Still has already succeeded in its mission to bring Irish authenticity, and genuine community, to Chelsea.

For more info, visit thecopperstillnyc.comThe Chelsea location is at 206 Seventh Ave. (corner of W. 22nd St.). Hours: Sun.-Wed., 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Call 646-596-8975. The East Village location is at 151 Second Ave. (btw. Ninth & 10th Sts.). Hours: Mon.-Fri., noon-4 a.m. Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-4 a.m. Call 212-510-8469.

The Copper Still opened in Chelsea last month. The original East Village location was established in 2014. | Photo by Mark Nimar

A Gin Float, one of The Copper Still’s signature drinks. | Photo by Mark Nimar