Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Wandering our World

An important Roman town in the first to the fifth century AD, Chelmsford is a city steeped in history and that’s often reflected in its old English pubs, bars and taverns.

Now one of the top places to live in the UK, Chelmsford is actually home to a surprisingly good evening scene despite its small size. That’s thanks in part to some wonderful pubs and bars that mix old traditions with modern upgrades and creative touches.

To help you out when you’re in town, here’s the bars in Chelmsford we think you’ve got to visit.

Let’s get started!

CONTENTS:

  1. The Best Cocktail Bars In Chelmsford
  2. The Best Bars In Chelmsford For The Seasoned Drinker
  3. The Best Pubs & Bars In Chelmsford For Entertainment
  4. The Best Pubs In Chelmsford For Food
bartender making cocktail
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The Best Cocktail Bars In Chelmsford

1. The Bootmaker

Be part of the Chelmsford nightlife and enjoy great cocktails in a social atmosphere.

A social hub on the bustling Chelmsford High Street, this cocktail bar was once a bootmaker’s shop back in 1874!

Now serving classic and original cocktails, The Bootmaker is a modern bar with exposed brick, neon signs and social seating. This characterful venue offers cocktails packed full of flavour and fresh ingredients as well as some seriously good dirty burgers!

Locals love a Mojito served over crushed ice made with Havana rum, fresh mint leaves, limes, sugar syrup, soda, and brown sugar. Going sober? No problem, The Bootmaker has some delicious mocktails on offer too, for example, a Strawberry Daquiri using Strykk not rum with mint, sugar and lime juice served over crushed ice.

Take a seat at a booth, bench or table, peruse the large cocktail menu and get in amongst the lively city scene. In addition to its cocktail range, The Bootmaker offers white, red, and rosé wines as well as prosecco, a vast array of spirits, beers on tap and draught/bottled lagers and ciders.

Grab your friends and head out for a night of fun at The Bootmaker, one of the best cocktail bars in Chelmsford!

Address: 3-4 Moulsham St, Chelmsford CM2 0HR, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Thurs 12:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-01:00, Sun 12:00-22:30

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/santypan

2. The Garrison Tavern

Classic and original cocktails with late-night dancing and VIP packages

Fun murals and comfortable seating make for a modern twist in a building that is over 400 years old. This characterful bar is a fusion of vintage decor with an aged building to create a fun bar complete with dining and dancing. The Garrison Tavern has an amazing selection of crafted cocktails too, which you can enjoy with light bites.

Offering classics such as the Long Island Ice Tea and some fun signature favourites like the Aberdeen Angel which includes Woodford Reserve, honey, lime juice and Drambuie – delicious!

After a few drinks take to the dance floor late into the night for a great night out in Chelmsford. You can even book a VIP experience with booth packages including VIP booths in their heated back garden. If you’re looking to celebrate, this is the place to be.

So don your dancing shoes and head here for a night to remember!

Address: 3 High St, Chelmsford CM1 1BE, UK

Opening Times: Sun-Tues 23:00-01:00, Wed-Sat 11:00-03:00

bartender pouring drink
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/MaximFesenko

The Best Bars In Chelmsford For The Seasoned Drinker

1. The Ale House

A home-from-home for the seasoned beer drinker with options to order takeaway

Found in the heart of Chelmsford, lovers of beer can find a fantastic drinking hole to enjoy a vast selection of ales. The Ale House – which is found inside the railway arches – is a wonderfully unique place to enjoy a drink with its long bar offering a choice of 9 cask ales,13 craft keg beers, plus 2 lagers and a cider on tap. In addition, you can enjoy 6 traditional still ciders, and over 100 bottles and cans!

The lengthy beer list offers a range of cask ales, craft keg beer, house keg beer and cider, craft, bottles and cans, still cider, bottle ciders and sober options, plus there’s even a gin and wine menu.

And while there’s no kitchen here, The Ale House allows customers to bring their own choice of food into the establishment so you can even order takeaway to the venue! The Ale House is a fantastic choice for beer lovers and those in need of a social get-together.

Enjoy one of the best bars for the seasoned drinker in Chelmsford and gather your mates for a special beer session.

Address: 24-26 Viaduct Rd, Chelmsford CM1 1TS, UK

Opening Times: Sun-Thurs 11:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-00:00

Selection of beer
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2. The Wine Cellar Bar & Bistro

A fine dining experience with perfect wine pairings and a worldwide wine list

The rustic old-England look and feel of this independent restaurant and wine bar runs congruent with its intimate style of wining and dining and hidden away venue.

The Wine Cellar Bar and Bistro hand selects their wine list to please even the most discerning of guests and if you’re a lover of wine, this special venue won’t disappoint.

Guests can also dine on a seasonal menu using the freshest of ingredients from local suppliers and enjoy an experience like no other whether staying for food or just visiting for a civilised glass or two of wine.

And with personalised candle bottles at every table, you’ll feel transported by the wine list that takes your tastebuds worldwide to enjoy white, red, rosé, sparkling wines and champagnes from around the globe, as well as dessert wines and port.

If staying for food you can enjoy contemporary and seasonal dishes from varying menus throughout the week including vegan and gluten-free options. Enjoy specially chosen wines that pair perfectly with each course and indulge the senses at this venue offering a unique dining experience.

The Wine Cellar Bar and Bistro, one of the best bars in Chelmsford for seasoned drinkers, is definitely a place to share special experiences with a loved one.

Address: 4a Duke St, Chelmsford CM1 1HL, UK

Opening Times: Wed-Thurs 12:00-23:30, Fri-Sat 12:00-01:00

wine glasses
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The Best Pubs & Bars In Chelmsford for Entertainment

1. The Globe 

Freshly refurbished 19th-century pub with family-friendly events and activities

From the outside, The Globe looks like a traditional English pub with 19th-century features, but step inside and discover a snazzy fully refurbished space fit for a good time with friends and family.

Sit at the bar or take your pick of comfortable seating inside and outside with a fresh look and feel to the place. There is a great menu offering plenty of classic pub grub as well as drinks ranging from cocktails and spirits to lagers, ales and ciders.

There’s a whole host of entertaining events to choose from at this family-friendly pub too, including quiz nights, karaoke nights, DJ nights and acoustic live music sets.

Not only is there all this incredible entertainment on offer, but sports fans can also enjoy all the key sporting events shown live on TV! You can also expect a warm welcome from fun-loving staff and a good time had by all. Check out upcoming events via their website. 

The Globe is considered one of the best pubs in Chelmsford for entertainment and a great venue for all ages.

Address: 65 Rainsford Rd, Chelmsford CM1 2QJ, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Thurs 11:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-00:00, Sun 12:00-23:00

two cocktails on a bar
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Alessandro Biascioli

2. Wheatsheaf

A traditional family pub with multiple monthly events that bring people together

Another family favourite is the traditional pub, Wheatsheaf. Spacious seating inside and out with multiple pool tables makes this a great place for a social gathering.

Their menu offers a range of classic pub dishes and the drinks available range from lagers to cocktails, plus spirits and wines. With cask and craft beers on offer and fun cocktails too, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

You can also find so much to enjoy within their ongoing events calendar including curry nights, immersive sport, monthly bingo, and DJ nights. So ave fun with friends or family in this charming pub with friendly staff offering a huge variety of drinks.

Address: 28 New St, Chelmsford CM1 1NT, UK

Opening Times: Sun-Thurs 12:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-01:00

Friends with beer doing a cheers
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3. Bay Horse

Grade II listed building upgraded with a modern rock look to suit its many live music nights.

Established in 1770, Bay Horse is an impressive Grade II listed Tudor building that stands as the oldest tavern in Chelmsford.

Recently under new management, Bay Horse continues to serve locals their drink of choice with warmth. The modern updates within add a modern rock touch to the period features of the building and pubgoers can enjoy a range of beverages including draft and bottled beers, ciders and unique cocktails.

Take advantage of the busy line-up of live bands each month involving bands of varying genres, including original and covers bands. There’s also karaoke you can get involved in every Sunday and pool tables available for a game or two. On top of that, you can enjoy 2-for-1 cocktails every day 5-8pm! 

A great spot for live entertainment, Bay Horse is often considered one of the best pubs and bars in Chelmsford for having a good time!

Address: 189 Moulsham St, Chelmsford CM2 0LG, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Tues, Thurs 15:00-23:00, Wed 15:00-01:00, Fri-Sat 12:00-01:00, Sun 12:00-00:00

guitar player at a live music show
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Pro2sound

The Best Pubs In Chelmsford For Food

1. The Ship Public House

Hearty pub food and live music events in a popular cosy venue

This pub sits proudly on the street corner not far from the train station and is a great location for some hearty pub food.

There is ample seating inside and a cosy atmosphere where you can enjoy a good selection of drinks and tuck into some delicious meals.

This popular pub also has a lively atmosphere in a traditional setting that will please young and old. There are occasional activities and events including live music and DJs, but The Ship is most loved for its food.

The menu offers a range of hearty meals from jacket potatoes to burgers and steaks as well as light snacks and you can expect traditional Sunday roasts too. The Ship often runs themed menus too for events such as Beaujolais and St Patrick’s Day.

Locals love dishes such as the Slow Cooked Lamb Shank served with minted mash and there are even some great vegan options too such as Linda McCartney sausages with creamy mash, gravy and fresh peas.

The Ship’s range of drinks will suit every occasion too with a great range of beers, spirits and real ales from Ridley’s Brewery. You can check out what’s on at The Ship by following their social media.

All in all, it’s a great stop for a filling meal.

Address: 18 Broomfield Rd, Chelmsford CM1 1SW, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Thurs 10:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 10:00-01:00, Sun 12:00-23:00

Sunday roast display
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2. The Plough

A recreational hub with an astonishing number of menus serving food throughout the week

This modern pub actually dates back to 1842 and can be found right by the station too. Known for its good value and lively atmosphere, The Plough offers a great spot for food and drink with a dash of fun.

Like many good pubs and bars in Chelmsford, you can watch live sports on several TVs that are set up around the establishment. Or if you prefer enjoying the sun more than sports, why not take a seat in the beer garden and look through their eclectic menu.

Drinks-wise, the cellar is well-stocked with cask ales and the bar offers up to eight real ales on tap, but it’s the menu – which offers a fantastic range of dishes – where The Plough really shines.

There are more menus here than the average pub and with a main, vegetarian and vegan, breakfast, buffet, bottomless brunch and kids menu there’ll be plenty to choose from all day long as well as a Christmas party menu for the festive season!

Whether you want to mix and match tapas, enjoy some sharing plates or tuck into some gourmet burgers, The Plough has a wide range of choices that will keep you satisfied. A past local favourite is a Steak and Guinness Pie, which is Slow-cooked beef in a Guinness and onion gravy with puff pastry, served with steamed veg, gravy and seasoned triple-cooked chips.

But if you’re after some veggie options a local choice over the years has been a Crispy Bombay-Style Fillet, a spied plant-based fillet made with fava beans, stacked with sweet potato, apricot falafel and chipotle chilli jam. The delicious range of food doesn’t stop there so you must check out the indulgent puddings!

Address: Essex, 28 Duke St, Chelmsford CM1 1HY, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 11:00-23:00, Sat 10:00-23:00, Sun 10:00-22:30

Bangers & mash and Fish & chips display
Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/JMLederer

3. Golden Fleece

Unique pub offering fun food and entertainment in a quirky space

This 17th-century pub has a spacious modern interior with quirky decor, games and comfortable seating that makes for a great location to enjoy delicious food with friends and family.

Take a seat inside or out in the patio garden and enjoy all that the Golden Fleece has to offer including regular bands and comedy! The star of the show has got to be the food though thanks to the fun menu suited to all occasions ranging from sharers and small plates to chicken, stone-baked pizzas, burgers and hot dogs, topped fries and even a vegan and all-day brunch menu. 

Some local recommendations over the years include the Vegan Breakfast which offers veggie sausages, hash brown bars, mushrooms, grilled tomato, baked beans and toast.

For mains, how about an indulgent Pizza Cone? Regulars love this cheesy pizza rolled and filled with chunky chips and cheese sauce served with dips and bbq sauce. That’s great drinking food as far as we’re concerned!

So devour some seriously tasty food and enjoy your choice of drink including classic Gin and Tonic, fantastic beers and there are even 2-for-1 cocktails all day every day! If all that wasn’t enough, the Golden Fleece has regular quiz and karaoke nights so you won’t be short of a fun night out.

Address: Duke St, Chelmsford CM1 1JP, UK

Opening Times: Mon-Thurs 11:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-02:00, Sun 12:00-22:00