There was once a time when all that Nashville demanded from a local watering hole was a stage, George, Jack, and all the other necessary guys present on the shelf. Since Music City’s bar scene has gained increasing national attention, the watering holes are beginning to look just as pretty to sober eyes as to beer-goggled ones. Here are 11 stunners that knock it out of the park.
An alpine-themed, neighborhood bar in 12South, the Embers Ski Lodge aesthetic is inspired by the après-ski scene of Aspen and resort parties of Val d'Isère in the French Alps. A mural of snow-capped mountains, a vintage conical fireplace, and soft light fixtures surround the gorgeous wood bar that features stacked logs and pillars of real Aspen trees. Along the back bar, a custom metal mountain sculpture highlights the true work of art: 170-plus whiskies.
Le Sel is the latest venture from Strategic Hospitality (Pinewood Social, Catbird Seat, Patterson House), and while each of their establishments is arguably their most beautiful, there’s just something about the The Bar at Le Sel. Located on the lower level of the recently opened French restaurant, the bar can be accessed through the main floor or by a separate street entrance. The mastermind behind it’s eccentric yet inviting style is interior designer Benjamin Vandiver, who commissioned other Nashville artists like Alic Daniel for one-of-a-kind pieces that make the space even more unique.
Chef Daniel Lindley created the first design rendering for 5th & Taylor and enlisted architect firm Smith Gee Studio and interior designer Ruth de Jong to craft his vision from a nearly century-old warehouse in Germantown. Chattanooga artist Cessna Decosimo’s life-size sculpture of the city’s namesake, General Francis Nash, towers over the dining room and adjacent 28ft bar. The bar gives a residential feel, softening the space with a dividing wall of fig trees, table lamps on the bar, and lounge areas with custom furnishings by De JONG & Co. and artwork created in a collaboration between Decosimo and Lindley.
Located in Morgan Park, Butchertown Hall is Germantown’s first beer hall since 1909, boasting a barrel-aged program, a “real ale” cask program and 30 rotating taps of exclusive European brews set within 2,000sqft of gorgeous indoor/outdoor settings. Metal Fred Designs Inc. crafted unique design elements like the pulley-system light pendants and the caged stone and steel walls that divide the bar and restaurant.
Josephine on 12South provides the upscale dining experience with the warm and welcoming vibe expected of a neighborhood classic. Antique mirrors enlarge the room while cozy leather banquettes and a sense of community around the U-shaped bar keeps the space feeling intimate and refined. A decorative shelf for storage hangs from the ceiling, outlining the bar overhead with a boozy chandelier of bottles, lights, and glasses. The bar backs up to an open-kitchen view and on weekends, an additional appetizing sight of chef Andy Little’s X|X (10 courses for 10 people) tasting table experience is also seated there.
Renovated in a historic, 1940s movie theater, Anderson Design Group blended classic elements from the original structure like the curved staircase with modern style features (hello, Selfie Mirror!). Sinema is Old Hollywood glamour on the main restaurant level with an edgier “after-hours” bar upstairs that’s lined with plush, velvet lounge areas, private dining nooks, and legendary rock photography by Robert Knight and Maryanne Bilham.
The eccentric and vibrant look of Chauhan Ale & Masala House is the result of design collaboration between 12-year hospitality veteran London Parfitt (Chauhan is the sixth Nashville restaurant he’s designed) and Nashville architect Barry Brechak. The bar style is intended to mirror an old British pub with modern accents of Indian culture, reflective of co-owner and executive chef Maneet Chahuan’s roots. The influence of Chahuan’s heritage is also carried into the bar program with their popular Indian spice-infused microbrews like the saffron cardamom IPA.
Sean Brock’s Husk Nashville breathed new life into this historic 1800s home on Rutledge Hill. Designer Michael Shewan’s approach was to update its Southern style while honoring the historic integrity and keeping the original floors, windows, and walls. The bar (which was once the home’s master bedroom) is downstairs, featuring an attached patio next to the atrium with garden views and a bourbon-centric program with 60 plus bottles on the back bar.
Located on the ground level of the Gulch’s Terrazzo high-rise, Prima boasts soaring heights of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Division Street. The bar is like a secluded corner booth with a view of the 3,000-bottle wine cellar and the pristine, white tablecloth restaurant that sits underneath a show-stopping, Bruce Munro light installation (1,800 bulbs in all).
Jonathan Waxman’s Adele’s is a spacious, open kitchen concept built within an old tire shop in the Gulch. The bar has it’s own room to the side of the main dining floor and is flooded with natural light and rolling garage doors that open to the patio for warm days and an outdoor fireplace for cool nights. The oak bar is simple, surrounded by a neutral palate with just a pop of color in the retro bar stools. The clean, no-fuss aesthetic lends to the attention being placed on the food and colorful cocktails like the bright green salsa verde on the JW Chicken and their gold-hued Signature Milk Punch. (A must-try!)
Who would imagine this stunning local favorite used to be a grocery store? The East Nashville hangout houses two maple wood bars, a 20ft barrel-vaulted ceiling dangling 16 chandeliers, a wraparound bar that centers a pyramid of top-shelf brands and enough Italian string lights to make it feel like Christmas all year long. Holland House was a pioneer in the local cocktail revolution. It’s definitely a place you can sit back, enjoy the romantic ambiance and trust the experienced mixologists in their craft.
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Kendall Mitchell Gemill is a Nashville writer who thinks that all bars are beautiful in their own ways.
1. Embers Ski Lodge2410 12th Ave S, Nashville
2. Le Sel1922 Adelicia St, Nashville
3. 5th & Taylor1411 5th Ave N, Nashville
4. Butchertown Hall1416 4th Ave N, Nashville
5. Josephine2316 12th Ave S., Nashville
6. Sinema2600 Franklin Pike #102, Nashville
7. Chauhan Ale & Masala House123 12th Avenue North, Nashville
8. Husk37 Rutledge St, Nashville
9. Prima700 12th Ave S, Nashville
10. Adele's1210 McGavock St, Nashville
11. Holland House Bar & Refuge935 W Eastland Ave, Nashville
Aspen meets Nashville at Embers Ski Lodge, where gastropub fare and cocktails reign supreme. Guests can dine in cabin-like environs against a backdrop of Mt. Everest, snacking on everything from burgers, salads, and seafood entrées. The beer and wine offerings are solid, but the massive whiskey list is the true highlight here -- and besides, what better way to start Sunday brunch than with two ounces of rare rye by way of an actual shot-ski?
This venture is a product of the successful team behind The Catbird Seat, The Patterson House, Pinewood Social, and other favorite Nashville eating and watering holes. It's a modern French restaurant on the ground floor of the Adelicia building. From the sexy graffiti-inspired decor to the French hip-hop pumping through the speakers, a meal at Le Sel is stimulating to your eyes and ears. Their main floor has a more casual vibe, while their downstairs bar is more stately, and we are partial to their raw bar.
In addition to some excellent upscale American comfort food coming off the wood-fired grill in the kitchen, the dining room at 5th & Taylor offers one of the most dramatic environments in town. A massive statue of General Francis Nash, the city’s namesake, dominates the space and bold artwork creates an ambience that makes the whole evening a little more exciting, complete with a huge full service bar, large dining area, and minimalistic/industrial decor.
This new American spot has a beautiful interior and features a great beer garden with wood-fired and smoked menu items. They also have great brews and specialty cocktails. Both locals and tourists agree that if you are going to chow down on some barbecue in Nashville, Butchertown Hall is the best place to go.
Josephine has gained quite a following thanks to its French bistro cuisine and regional American dishes. Chef Andy Little has been exciting Nashville with his brand of cooking, particularly during his weekends-only 10x10 special prix-fixe dinners where some courses arrive at the table plated on a long plank. Josephine's prides itself on being a fuss-free elegant eatery, and we appreciate their minimal industrial decor and casual yet high class vibe.
Situated in the former Melrose Theatre space, this trendy eatery serves New American fare and craft cocktails in a glitzy, Art Deco-inspired environs. Food offerings provide modern twists on classic dishes, with elegantly presented favorites ranging from truffle arancini to filet mignon. A stellar Sunday brunch menu attracts the masses, but it's a lively dinner spot as well thanks to the extensive whiskey list and corresponding specialty cocktails.
This sexy Indian eatery from celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan is a beloved staple in Nashville's food scene, featuring a wide selection of wines, spirits, and cocktails from all over the world and a menu combining Indian cuisine with traditional Southern dishes. Locals love their lunch and dinner menus, but we are huge fans of their brunch menu (which includes a super helpful cocktail menu labeled Sunday Brunch Hangover Cures).
The Nashville outpost of Chef Sean Brock's Charleston-born restaurant, Husk in SoBro focuses on dishes from the dirt, changing its menu twice daily according to what produce and protein goods are freshest. Self-described as “a celebration of Southern ingredients,” most of the courses here use local ingredients (including herbs from a backyard garden), and diners are encouraged to pair courses like shrimp and grits and a hot fish sandwich with a cocktail from the lauded whiskey list, with over 60 bourbons on offer. And while the dress code is casual, the meals are all served in a historic mansion setting, turning your comfort food into regal fare.
Located on the bottom level of the Terrazzo building in The Gulch, this high-end steakhouse boasts a 3k-bottle wine cellar and a menu featuring wood-fired bone-in meats spiced with South American and Latin flavors. The massive chandeliers are truly works of art, but more importantly, they cast their light on plates of Chef Salvador Avila’s contemporary American cuisine that he tweaks with European and Latin American influences. The comfy bar also hosts one of Nashville’s most under appreciated happy hours with fun and funky snacks to accompany signature cocktails.
Located in The Gulch, Jonathan Waxman's Adele's features California-style cuisine with French and Italian influences, all served in a space that's simple, sleek, and casual featuring a large wood-burning overn and an open kitchen floor plan.
Holland House Bar & Refuge in East Nashville actually used to be a grocery store, but now, with two maple bars, more than a dozen chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling and a gorgeously lit back patio, you'd never think produce was sold here. Many rooms can be reserved for private parties, and the opulent decor is perfect for when you want to impress. With creative mixologists who love going off the menu for drinks, you'll never be bored at this Nashville popular spot.