Where to Grab a Drink in Nashville Right Now
There is plenty to drink about.
Nashville isn’t gonna let something like a little pandemic get between us and a good drink, and now that regulations have loosened up a bit to again allow bar service, spirits are lifted and so are beers. Of course, patrons should respect safety protocols, social distancing guidelines, and always have a mask on hand. Fortunately, most of the best bars in town are slowly coming back to life, and they could sure use your support. Here are some of the best spots to spend your drinking dollars.
Mother’s Ruin Nashville
When the popular Manhattan watering hole Mother’s Ruin announced it was opening a second location in Music City, Germantown residents wondered how the new neighbors would fit in. They shouldn’t have worried, because the staff at Mother’s Ruin knows how to please with delectable bar food like those addictive Old Bay Waffle Fries and a menu of fun cocktails that are designed to be prepared and poured quickly and in volume. It’s become an irreplaceable hang for people that like good food and strong drink without the wait or the pretentiousness of some other cocktail bars.
Although Attaboy was severely damaged in the March 2020 tornado, the creative team behind that bar had a place to retreat to. They had already opened their second project, Lakeside Lounge the previous winter, taking over the space from an iconic neighborhood dive bar. Rather than completely change the vibe, they’ve kept the pool tables, darts and video games while quietly upping the game behind the bar and in the kitchen. You can still order an ice cold beer or a shot, but they can now mix you a proper cocktail, as well.
If you ever visited the sports bar that used to occupy this two-story spot next to Centennial Park, just put that memory out of your brain. New owners have converted the space into a fantastic steampunk-inspired cocktail and cigar bar that feels like a trip into Lewis Carroll’s absinthe den. The downstairs lounge and dining area is intentionally dark with gilded accents to create a sultry vibe, while the top floor is more open and airy. The balcony off the upstairs bar is a great place to enjoy a cigar from their humidor and a crafty cocktail from their seasonally-changing drink menu.
The entire back wall at Gertie’s is covered with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with hundreds of rare whiskeys, including some special private single-barrel picks that are literally not available anywhere else in the world. Whether you’re sipping it straight or as part of a mixed drink, the selection of brown liquor here is unrivaled. Half-price deals on the entire whiskey list on Wednesdays and discounted Old Fashioneds on Thursday make those nights particularly advantageous for a visit.
Part of the charm of a trip to Dino’s used to be sitting at the bar shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger who might soon become a friend, but now, well, we just don’t do that anymore. That’s alright though, because the patio party in the backyard of this venerable tavern is as convivial as ever, and the beer is just as cold, the drinks are just as cheap and the cheeseburger is still legendary. It’s the sort of place where you wouldn’t be surprised to see Justin Beiber shooting pool with his buddies while being basically left alone by the locals, because that’s exactly what happened a few years back. Everyone is welcome at Dino’s, and nobody gets any special treatment. That’s just how we like it!
The first popular proponent of classic cocktails in Nashville, The Patterson House is where many Nashvillians learned that a velvet rope doesn’t necessarily mean a bar is trying to keep people out to create buzz for entry. Instead, this cozy speakeasy with a library vibe seeks to limit the number of patrons so that their talented staff can really pay attention to each individual customer and every finely crafted drink. In a welcome reaction to the uncertainty of these times, The Patterson House has finally unveiled the first happy hour, so go early to avoid the line and take advantage of the deals.
Skull's Rainbow Room
Don’t call it a comeback, since Skull’s has been around for decades as a Printers Alley stalwart (other than a period when the bar was closed for a few years). It reopened in 2015, and new visitors can appreciate the renovated space and old-school atmosphere at this elegant cocktail emporium, plus the chop house menu and nightly performances by cool jazz combos. A list of specialty cocktails are named as homages to past characters and locales in downtown Nashville’s history.