Looking for a good drink and some good conversation? Do not make the mistake of over-looking the incredibly talented roster of female bartenders around Memphis. One part cocktail wizardry, one part friendliness and about 10 parts local pride is the recipe followed by our favorite mixologists.
Jeannette Comans West
Specialty: Speakeasy Cocktails, her definition of Prohibition-era cocktails and newly created cocktails that emulate the Prohibition style and ingredients: old fashioned, all types of mules, The Flapper, Ritzy Rummy, Swanky Sipper & Raspberry Beret to name a few.
What she’s doing when she’s not working: She’s at games, practices, and events for her 15-year-old son who is a high school freshmen and her 13-year-old twin girls who are in 8th grade. She’s also an owner of Blind Bear and does all of the marketing, bill paying, payroll, menu making, reservation taking, and scheduling.
Favorite thing about Memphis: “It's nice to always feel like people are there for you, supporting you and the restaurant. Bar owners, patrons, and really all of our community come together and support one another. Also we are really spoiled by the amazing Memphis music scene!”
Speciality: “I really enjoy making seasonal cocktails, so I get my inspiration from fresh ingredients available at the market. My chef, Ben Smith, and his wife Colleen, would also agree that I make a pretty perfect Sazerac.”
What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I love my Memphis Tigers. Basketball and football, winning season or off season. I’m usually running around the Forum & Liberty Bowl on game days or packed into a local spot glued to a TV. I am also a big Grizzlies fan; but if you know me, you know when the two happen to share a game day, I bleed Tiger Blue all the way.”
Favorite thing about Memphis: When the Tigers or Grizzlies are doing well and the city comes together. “That pride and fellowship is the best feeling, and it’s like nothing I have experienced anywhere else.”
Specialty: Lemon basil sparkler! House-made limoncello, house-made basil syrup, topped with prosecco. Kinda sweet, kinda stout!
What she’s doing when she’s not working: Her free time is scarce, so she likes to spend it quietly. If she can make it to the gym once in awhile and spend one night a week catching up with girlfriends she’s a happy camper.
Favorite thing about Memphis: “The way we get behind local/small businesses and restaurants! The variety and quality is really on par with much bigger cities, a lot of folks don't realize that. Memphis might be a lil dangerous and a lil dirty but it's got serious soul and we are all committed to making it a more livable communal place.”
Specialty: Shot of Jameson with a PBR draft back.
What she’s doing when she’s not working: Cooking and spending time with her favorite person/Bucc owner, her dad, Wils Davis III.
Favorite thing about Memphis: “Music, music, music, we have the most awesome local musicians, and I love hearing them at The Bucc or one of our other wonderful local establishments!”
Specialty: William Tell (vodka, sherry, creme de cassis, freshly juiced apple)
What she’s doing when she’s not working: She reads, writes short stories, hits the Memphis music scene, and takes her dog patio hopping around Midtown with her friends.
Favorite thing about Memphis: “I love the food, the music, that it’s a big city with a small town vibe... I love this city.”
Specialty: Currently a vanilla bean old fashioned -- twist on the classic with vanilla bean, orange zest, orange bitters, and whiskey.
What she’s doing when she’s not working: Playing kickball (Go Hellions!!), studying up on drink recipes and gardening.
Favorite thing about Memphis: The ever changing and developing food and drink scene.
Specialty: Classic cocktails.
What she’s doing when she’s not working: Sleeping! Trying new foods and cocktails.
Favorite thing about Memphis: The heart and soul, the grit and grind attitude, and patio season!
Brittany "Baby" Redmond-Hawk
Specialty: Her "Porch drank" made of Hendrick's gin, peach schnapps, lime, and tonic.
What she’s doing when she’s not working: She plays roller derby! And when not busy with that, she goes to school, spends time with her husband and their two pugs, and friends, of course. “Bartending has made my life awesome, including blessing me with great friends.”
Favorite thing about Memphis: Everything. It's cheap, Midtown is beautiful, and everyone knows everyone somehow. There are so many great places to eat and drink, secret kayak spots on the Wolf River, an amazingly talented music scene, and the Grizzlies! But mostly, she loves that Memphis still holds on to its grit, and doubts it will ever try to be something it isn't.
Specialty: The Godfather Part 2 (Bulleit bourbon, Lillet Blanc, rosemary honey syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped with an Italian herb tincture) and The Ramble Tamble (Big gin, fresh lemon juice, a sea salt simple syrup, a few dashes of rhubarb bitters, and topped with a splash of wild strawberry liqueur).
What she’s doing when she’s not working: She loves being outdoors. She runs A LOT. She’s currently training to run her first half marathon. She’s also recently picked up gardening, and has quite a few flowers and herbs growing. She also cooks and bakes quite a bit.
Favorite thing about Memphis: The food, music, people, places, and DEFINITELY the Grizzlies and Tigers!!! Grit & Grind all day long!!!!!
Specialty: “I can open a Coors Light faster than anyone. Really I just like making people happy so I will mix anything for them.”
What’s she’s doing when she’s not working: Normally fly fishing somewhere but now you can always find her working on her new business, Double Barrel Party Lights.
Favorite thing about Memphis: Memphis people are the ones that make it feel like home and make it special.
Specialty: She likes to make custom shooters based on customers' likes or dislikes. “I kind of make it up as I go along!”
What she’s doing when she’s not working: She’s a senior in college, so when she’s not working she’s usually studying or doing other college kid things while she still can.
Favorite thing about Memphis: The rich culture and history the city has, which has created a really vibrant and diverse population.
Where you can find her: Bar DKDC and Beauty Shop Restaurant
Specialty: Craft cocktails with seasonal fresh squeezed juices and herbs, or a simple High Life and Jameson shot.
What she’s doing when she’s not working: Traveling anywhere and everywhere she can.
Favorite thing about Memphis: “There is more grit and soul in this city than anywhere I've ever been. It's a city that's always trying to build itself up, and these past few years have been great to witness. There is nowhere like Memphis. It's home.”
Specialty: Beer, beer, and more beer!
What she’s doing when she’s not working: Most likely spending time with her dog-child, Luna.
Favorite thing about Memphis: “I love Memphis because this city never sleeps, and there is always somewhere to have a good time.”
Where to find her: The Second Line and The Green Room (a new concept in Memphis that will host private events and pop up restaurants).
Specialty: “Personally I enjoy all things wine, but lately I've been intrigued by the rise in popularity of barrel aged gin. I find them very versatile in a wide variety of cocktails.”
What she’s doing when she’s not working: Studying to take her real estate licensing exam. She’s already been hired with Marx-Bensdorf Realtors.
Favorite thing about Memphis: The people. “This town's got soul!”
Where you can find her: Felicia Suzanne's and Mulan Asian Bistro.
Specialty: Classic cocktails (old fashions, Champagne cocktails, Sazeracs, etc.)
What she’s doing when she’s not working: She’s an artist who works with paint and charcoals, and she’s working on writing a collection of poetry. She also trains in Shotokan karate, Krav Maga, and Kali.
Favorite thing about Memphis: The community. “I consider every person in this city as my neighbor. And the Grizzlies are my heart and soul.”
1. Blind Bear Speakeasy119 S Main St, Memphis
2. Tsunami928 S Cooper St, Memphis
3. Aldo's Pizza Pies752 S Cooper St, Memphis
4. Buccaneer Lounge1368 Monroe Ave, Memphis
5. ACRE Restaurant690 S Perkins Rd, Memphis
6. The Majestic Grille145 S Main St, Memphis
7. Houston's Restaurant5000 Poplar Ave, Memphis
8. Bardog Tavern73 Monroe Ave, Memphis
9. The Grove Grill4550 Poplar Ave, Memphis
10. Bar DKDC964 S Cooper, Memphis
11. The Beauty Shop Restaurant966 Cooper St, Memphis
12. Memphis Made Brewing Co.768 S Cooper St, Memphis
13. The Second Line2144 Monroe Ave, Memphis
14. Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant80 Monroe Ave, Memphis
15. Mulan Bistro2149 Young, Memphis
16. Rec Room3000 Broad Ave, Memphis
The '20s are alive and well at the Blind Bear Speakeasy. You won’t need a password to order from the “Giggle Water” drink menu, but you may feel a little like a Roaring '20s gangster as you put back a Bootlegger’s Mule (American Born moonshine, simple syrup, lime, and ginger beer). It's a good thing there's "Hung Over Like a Bear" brunch every weekend.
Ben Smith's Pacific Rim-inspired menu is so beloved that he just can't bring himself to change it. (The sea bass isn't going anywhere, ever.) Because of this, he creates a daily small plates menu to keep things new and exciting. The rotating dishes include items like sake steamed mussels in Thai red curry sauce and Barramundi with pineapple stir fry. While grabbing a table is always a safe move, this is a great place for solo dining; grab a seat at the bar (designed by Smith's wife, Colleen), have a few drinks, and try several of the dishes.
Aldo’s is a gourmet pizza joint with two locations (one Downtown and one in Midtown). It's famous for its Trippy Truffle and vodka sauce, plus there are delicious sandwiches that can hold their own. Unlike its sister, this Copper Young location has a rooftop patio, the premiere spot to enjoy a slice and pint in Memphis.
Sure, things can go a little awry at the Buc, but the place is quality if you're looking for an unpretentious, well-worn (and well-loved) watering hole. The words "artisan," "craft beer," or "small plates" have never been uttered by a bartender at the Buc, which suits the place just fine. It's a classic dive with a seriously good lineup of local and touring music acts.
Chef Wally Joe's East Memphis gem may very well be the most beautiful restaurant in Memphis. In addition to the spacious dining room, there's a lovely bar with artisan, Prohibition-era style cocktails, an unmatched patio, and private dining. It's great for a casual bite or a special occasion, but for the full experience, you need to hit the annual Chinese New Year dinner with a group of friends to help you devour a suckling pig.
Centrally located Downtown, the Majestic Grille embodies all the glamour of its silver screen heyday. The cavernous restaurant used to be a movie theater, and the space maintains its original Art Deco feel with staggeringly high ceilings, gold embellishments, and an actual movie screen onto which Hollywood classics are projected. The menu consists of market-driven sandwiches, salads, and flatbread pizzas, but be sure to try standouts like the roasted mahi mahi with grilled artichoke butter and the addicting Parmesan fries.
Same American fare offered at all the other Houston's, expect steak, seafood, and pasta options here.
Bardog Tavern offers a brunch to end all brunches, one that’s hearty, simple, and heavy on the meat and carbs. Get a New York Strip and eggs, pancakes, French toast, or an avocado- and spicy mayo-laden lobster sandwich. The gastropub is ornamented with industrial elements, like exposed brick, red leather banquette booths, and bicycles hanging from the ceiling (hinting that a meal this indulgent might necessitate a bit of exercise). Plus there are inexpensive Bloody Marys, mimosas, and "cheap screws," should you need some hair of the bardog.
This laid-back yet sophisticated restaurant in the Laurelwood Shopping Center offers top-notch service alongside modern Southern dishes and a buzzy oyster bar. Start with some gulf oysters on the half shell before moving onto your entree, which should hands-down be the fan-favorite Low Country Shrimp and Grits: Tennessee white stone-ground grits and house-cured tasso ham gravy. There's also a sautéed crab cake and a pimento cheese & fried green tomato burger that are worth your time. Either way, make sure you throw in a side of crispy sweet onion-rosemary grit fries.
Head to the cozy (read: small) Cooper Young bar for any of the simple cocktails served in Mason jars. Check out the Satsuma Mama with Mississippi Cathead vodka, tangerine juice, and a satsuma peel, or the Blackberry Julep with whiskey, muddled blackberries and mint sugar. Memphis' best local musicians frequently fill half the bar on Thursday and weekend evenings, attracting a standing-room-only crowd that spills out onto the patio or into the tiny old-fashioned photo booth.
Brunch gets a makeover at this Cooper Young hotspot, which is completely packed on Sundays with Midtowners looking for an upgrade to everyday omelettes. Try the Beneduck -- spiced, sugared crispy duck with jalapeño jam -- or country ham with red-eye gravy, green apples, and bleu cheese over eggs and hash browns. Spirits-wise, the Bad Boy Bloody Mary and the Big Boy Mimosa have you covered.
This local brewing company is a favorite for locals. With a food truck serving grilled mac n' cheese on the weekends and their array of beers always on tap, this spot is the place to be for a fun, weekend activity.
As the casual cousin of Chef Kelly English's Restaurant Iris, The Second Line offers up simple, authentic New Orleans fare: think juicy roast beef po' boys with bread delivered fresh from NOLA as well as heaping trays of fried seafood, crawfish pimento cheese fries, "fancy ass cole slaw," and Natchitoches meat pies, and herb-infused cocktails.
Chef Felicia Suzanne has trained with some of the best to create a unique cooking style that reimagines Southern Creole cuisine with fresh ingredients sourced from local farms. Expect original takes on sweet and savory dishes like sweet potato pie, peach upside down cake, and butternut squash bisque -- and be sure to take one of her cooking classes because she's one hell of a teacher.
From the menu of authentic Szechuan and Mandarin plates to the warm, laid-back ambience and Chinese-inspired décor, Mulan is a Midtown mainstay. Don’t let the vastness of the food offerings fool you -- the kitchen excels at pretty much everything, be it sushi, wok entrées, noodles, rice, salads, fusion fare -- you get the idea. A killer combination deal makes it a popular lunch destination, but don’t dismiss dinner: that karaoke machine is a magnet for locals and visitors alike, making it a great spot for people watching.
Rec Room is Broad Avenue’s resident barcade. It’s a gamer’s mecca, featuring boundless vintage arcade games like pinball and Skee ball, table games in the vein of shuffleboard, air hockey, foosball, and more -- not to mention the infinite collection of classic console games. It’s a sprawling industrial dive, furnished with plush sofas in red leather and overhead chandeliers for a touch of class, and the sheer size of the place makes it a great option for large groups and private events. Don’t stress if all that competition makes you work up an appetite -- in addition to the full bar, there’s a limited yet killer menu of pizza pies for your perusal.