We could all probably use a little extra holiday cheer this time of year. As we bid adieu to 2016, and brace ourselves for 2017, we’re going to need lots of beer to help carry us through these times. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of festive places to find a few friendly folks, some uplifting decor, and a frosty pint.
The Majestic goes all out for Christmas. There are 60 wreaths on the mezzanine columns, lit & decorated garlands all along the railings and the bar, two and a half Christmas trees, and a life-size Santa in a sleigh being pulled by a life-sized reindeer! The Innovator’s Room (the private room in the back) has its own Christmas tree and really cool GIANT sized classic Christmas movie posters on the walls in a nod to their movie theater past. Beers on tap are all local: Memphis Made, High Cotton, Wiseacre, and Guinness (Arthur Guinness' first brewery was in the owner’s hometown in Ireland).
Outdoor enthusiasts and patio lovers need look no further than Loflin Yard for the alcoholidaze. They have Christmas lights strung up in the trees, a fully enclosed heated patio, fire pits, gas heaters, and DIY s’mores on the menu. Winter hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 4-10pm; Friday, 4pm-12am; Saturday and Sunday, 12pm-12am. There’s live music in the Coach House Friday through Sunday.
Broad Avenue Arts District
The Bikesmith is always a fun place to visit and drink a beer while talking bikes (or really, whatever you want). Over the holidays you can catch The Bikesmith in his red reindeer suit and tie and say hi to his newest little elf, Barkley. They’re having a cyclocross race (Santa Cross) and party on December 21st where you can ride or cheer people on. At the after party Santa will be posing for pictures with you and your bike (and your beer, if you'd like).
This is THE hot spot right now, so decorations are not necessary to make it feel festive (though there are a few poinsettias). Gather round the beautifully constructed bar with all of the beautiful people and enjoy a frosty brew. The Happy Hour menu features yummy treats for $5 like maple glazed chicken skins. Griz nights are extra packed, so get there early.
Broad Avenue Arts District
There aren’t many places where you can have a beer, eat a slice of pie, AND get your holiday shopping done. City & State is all decked out in holiday happiness thanks to Everbloom Designs. The whimsical -- yet modern and minimal -- moss-covered and pom-pommed décor just feels oh so right and welcoming. The beer fridge has your choice of Ghost River (Golden and IPA), Wiseacre (Tiny Bomb, Ananda, and Gotta Get Up), Abita Amber, and Brooklyn Brewery Lager.
The taproom at Ghost River Brewing Co. has been open for just shy of a month now, and it's been putting some great events and ideas into place. Flight Nights are Wednesdays and include five beers hand-picked by one of the brewers, Mike Clements. He also chooses the order and gives a background on the beer process. Small Shop Saturdays features a new local vendor each week and there’s acoustic music on Saturday nights. Every Sunday is Brunch at the Brewery with the Flying Sobie's truck (fried Cornish hens & waffles!), Bloody Beers (made with Nikki’s) and Vice-mosas (Memphis Vice Sour Ale with OJ) followed by Songwriter Sessions with Crockett Hall. There are three TVs for sports, board games, and a killer patio. Children and pets welcome.
High Cotton has a wide variety of winter beers out right now (rye porter, milk stout & Scottish ale) and will be releasing the Christmas Stout shortly. The newly redone event space will be host to various pop ups and there’s lots of other fun activities to lift the spirits including Bendy Brewski Yoga on Thursdays, Free Memphis Trivia on Fridays, football, food & toys drives, and lots of live music throughout the weekends.
There’s no better place to be on a cold, rainy winter night. The bar is large and horseshoe-shaped, the people who fill it are pure blue collar class, and the vibe is always convivial. The usually dark bar is now twinkled out to the max and the regulars are extra chatty. Treat yourself to a few cold ones, a dozen oysters, and good conversation this holiday season.
If you're looking to be transported into a magical winter wonderland, then the Peabody Hotel is the place. The gigantic Christmas trees, myriad lights, and chef-made gingerbread houses are the epitome of festive. Now, if your idea of a winter wonderland isn’t complete without an adult beverage, then head to the Lobby Bar. Known for its proximity to the world famous Peabody Ducks’ swimming hole, it’s also a great place to people watch. Mixed drinks here are not cheap, but beers are fairly reasonable. They have a great selection of local, regional, craft, domestic, imported, and even high-gravity beers -- not to mention a couple of beer cocktails and a beer float.
Broad Avenue Arts District
Wiseacre's ready to party it up this year. It has two Christmas trees in the taproom, lighted garland around the keg art on the walls, multicolored twinkling icicle lights around the bar, and festive lights lining the bridge to its street parking. There’s even an Elf on the Shelf, errr, disco ball. Every Tuesday in December it's playing a Christmas movie and December 9th is the Annual Tacky Sweater party with the Mighty Souls. Wiseacre will open early on the 23rd for the release of the Astronaut Status barrel-aged imperial stout.
There’s no place in midtown with more decorations -- or beers on tap -- than the Young Avenue Deli. With nearly 40 to choose from, you can spend many a December days and nights getting your buzz on with no repeats. Shoot a game of pool, play a little foosball, catch some live music, or just watch the game.
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1. The Majestic Grille145 S Main St, Memphis
2. Loflin Yard7 W Carolina Ave, Memphis
3. Bikesmith509 N Hollywood St, Memphis
4. Catherine & Mary's, Memphis
5. City & State2625 Broad Ave, Memphis
6. Ghost River Brewing Co.827 S Main St, Memphis
7. High Cotton Brewing598 Monroe Ave, Memphis
8. Mortimer's Restaurant590 N Perkins Rd, Memphis
9. Peabody Lobby Bar149 Union Ave, Memphis
10. Wiseacre Brewing2783 Broad Ave, Memphis
11. Young Avenue Deli2119 Young Ave, Memphis
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.
Modeled after Bacchanal Wine in New Orleans, Loflin is essentially a park with a lovely bar and restaurant on its grounds. The indoor/outdoor venue is split into a few areas: the Coach House, a building that was originally home to Downtown Memphis' carriage fleet and is now used as Loflin's event space; the Safe House, which features the main dining room and an outdoor deck overlooking the yard's waterfalls; the Front Yard, an outdoor community space with plenty of picnic tables and Adirondack chairs; and the Back Yard, a private green space that's available to book alongside the Coach House. The Loflin's food menu sticks to a family-style Southern format featuring dishes like beef brisket and trout with sides (collard greens, house-made slaw, sweet potato salad), and specialities like house-made sausages and po' boys.
You don’t have to need a tune-up or a repair to stop by Bikesmith for a local craft beer, but it might be silly to if you’re not into bikes. Bikesmith is all bikes all the time, while you sip on a Memphis beer from breweries like Ghost River, High Cotton, and Wiseacre you can talk to/geek out with the tenders/mechanics about bikes and riding them. Don’t hesitate to bring your kid (as in a human child, not your bike) to the pump track in the back, but if you do, save the beer for a post-ride refreshment. Pro tip: if it’s just a repair you’re looking for, give Bikesmith a call and the roving bike shop will come to you.
Catherine & Mary’s is an Italian concept from James Beard-nominated chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman. Named after Ticer and Hudman's Sicilian- and Tuscan-born grandmothers, the restaurant features regional Italian food with a Tennessee bent, like rigatoni with gravy and meatballs. The cocktail menu is no different, with a number of aperitivos and spritzes, as well as (unsurprisingly) an Italian-leaning wine list.
The only thing better than a quaint coffee shop is a quaint coffee shop that sells artisan goods from around the country. City & State on Broad Avenue is a hybrid concept that combines Intelligentsia pourovers with over 40 brands of timeless handcrafted goods, ranging from blankets from an American Woolen Mill that’s been weaving heirloom pieces for over 100 years to cutting boards from third generation woodworkers in Tennessee. City & State practices this attention to local and sustainable business with food and drink items as well; the Smokey Salted Caramel Latte’s sea salt is made in state, while baked goods like the brown sugar cinnamon roll are sourced from Porcellino’s on Brookhaven Circle.
Here's something you (probably) didn't know: Memphis is home to an aquifer that purifies the city's drinking water through 850ft of fine sand and quartz, deeming it some of the cleanest in the country. Music to a brewer's ears (or just anyone who drinks water in Memphis, I guess). Ghost River Brewing Co. -- named after a section of the river that feeds the aquifer -- credits the drinking water as the secret ingredient to its high-quality brews. Its Downtown taproom has every Ghost River label on draft, and a changing roster of food trucks on site every day. For every barrel brewed, Ghost River donates money to support its beloved aquifer, so basically, any time you're drinking Ghost River beer, you're drinking for a good cause.
This industrial-chic Memphis taproom is outfitted with distressed brick walls and a lighted sign that reads, "BEER!" over the bar to remind you what you came to celebrate: High Cotton's handful of top-notch craft brews. Toss a few rounds back at the long wooden bar, and soak up all the hoppy goodness with some eats from the food trucks parked outside. Be sure to fill up a growler before you go and enjoy some more BEER! at home.
It’s hard to imagine a Memphis without Berclair’s Mortimer’s Restaurant. Though it wasn’t technically established until 1981, its seeds were sown as early as the 1950s, when neighborhood staple The Knickerbocker was founded by Mortimer’s owner Sara Bell’s father. Many of the recipes at Mortimer’s are in fact relics of The Knickerbocker, as are many of its decorations, like the moose taxidermy above the fireplace in the main dining room. The menu is divided into “Starters,” “Soups & Salads,” “Sandwiches,” “Chicken & Steak,” “Seafood,” and “Desserts.” Favorite dishes include the Mort Burger, with a half-pound of hand-patted ground beef that’s charbroiled and served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and Cheddar cheese, and 50-cent chilled oysters on the half-shell. Daily lunch specials change each week, keeping a very traditional Mortimer’s on the culinary cutting edge.
Situated in the iconic Peabody Hotel off Beale Street, this hotel lobby bar has class and swank in spades. Nicknamed "the living room of Memphis," make yourself comfortable and order up from a tome-like menu of classic cocktails, spirits, house-made libations, and a list of award-winning martinis (the South's Grand made with Tito's, peach syrup, and lime juice is our personal favorite).
Wiseacre Brewing is a Binghampton hot spot for craft beer-loving locals. The ten taps pour exclusively Wiseacre brews, but the variety at hand is enough to satisfy any grain/hop/yeast-craving palate. The award-winning Tiny Bomb Pilsner and crisp, hop-heavy Ananda are draft staples (due to popular demand), and the remaining taps rotate through seasonal and one-off labels. Taste your way through Wiseacre's repertoire at communal tables inside or on the patio out back, and maybe treat yourself to a snack from the roster of food trucks while you're at it. On your way out, be sure to fill a growler with your favorite draft of the day, or purchase cans of past favorites, rare selections, or even just your preferred flavor of the week.
Young Avenue Deli is one of the most popular live music venues in Memphis, not only for its expansive stage and large seating area, but also for its equally extensive food and drink selection. The menu of greasy goodness is divided into “Munchies,” “Specialties,” “’Dillas+Pizza,” and “Dessert,” and its highlights include award-winning French fries, beer battered artichoke hearts, and the Super Veggie sandwich, which comes bursting with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, romaine lettuce, sprouts, feta cheese, and black olives. And with over 100 beer options (30 of which are on tap), you won’t tire of Young Avenue anytime soon.