Nashville has some great cocktail bars, and has for a long time. So much so that they’re ingrained in the minds of most drinking-age residents. (For those of you just joining us: The Patterson House: ground zero of the local craft cocktail boom, No. 308: a combination of laid-back & edgy atmosphere in East Nashville, The Oak Bar at the Hermitage Hotel: a classy spot to enjoy a premium drink next to the banker who probably holds the mortgage on your house, and Holland House: an East Nashville hang with a lovely display of shelves full of premium whiskeys lit up like a boozy Xmas tree.)
But who is challenging the old vanguard? Who are the new cocktail kings of Music City? Read on to find out...
What you're getting: Easy Like Sunday Morning
The new all-singing, all-dancing, all-bowling, breakfast/lunch/dinner triple threat in town also happens to mix a fine cocktail. For an early morning bracer, try the Easy Like Sunday Morning, a drink made with a cortado brewed by its partners at CREMA and torqued up with a shot of Fernet and Demerara sugar.
What you're getting: Bella
Everybody knows about Chef Tandy Wilson’s rustic Italian eatery (which uses mostly Southern ingredients to create its food). But not nearly as many know about the top-shelf cocktail bar tucked around the back and away from the dining room, where they craft all the classics along with a list of house specials that are preciously named after the pets of employees. Bella must have been a seriously good dog, because her cocktail features an aromatic combination of Plymouth dry gin and yellow Chartreuse set off with bitter elements of lemon and grapefruit juice, plus a splash of Campari.
What you're getting: Between The Wishing & The Thing
William Collier’s promises “craft cocktails sans suspenders” and handily boasts one of the best collections of both whiskey (and presumably belts) in Nashville to back it up. In addition to artful takes on the old standards, the barkeeps also whip up some fairly spectacular house drinks drinks too -- their Between The Wishing & The Thing features Trianon tequila (headquartered out of a small office in the Marathon Motor Works) along with vermouth, blood orange liqueur, and chocolaty mole bitters.
What you're getting: Grizzly Adams
This no-nonsense watering hole is a spin-off by some former employees of its neighbors at No. 308, but with slightly rougher edges; you’ll be more than welcome to order just a PBR tallboy and a shot as you will be to sip down one of its house cocktails made from an admirable store of high-end liquors. The bartenders work fast, so don’t expect a shaker show. Try one of their moonshine-based drinks like the Grizzly Adams, made with local American Born Dixie Moonshine, and tastes like a jacked-up glass of sweet tea.
What you're getting: Belle of Georgia
While some diners think of Husk as the restaurant where your server is most likely to know the astrological sign of the farmer who grew those roasted beets on your plate, downstairs in the bar, they’re all about the cocktails. With one of the best-curated selections of bourbons in town, the bar uses Pappy Van Winkle's little brother Old Weller 107 as the main ingredient in its delicious Belle of Georgia, along with house-smoked bourbon pecan cordial, tobacco bitters, and a muddled Georgia peach. (The peach farmer was a Gemini, btw.)
What you're getting: Fall To Pieces
Once a favorite watering hole of Nashville locals, the original Sutler fell victim to the wrecking ball over a decade ago. Now revitalized in almost the exact same location, the new Sutler is a delightfully schizophrenic space. Upstairs is all cowboy (a wall of boots, a saddle for a barstool, etc.), but downstairs in a hidden speakeasy they call the Cellar, where you'll find a mellow, bordello-like vibe, and drinks like the Fall To Pieces, which perfectly blends local Corsair gin with spices and vanilla.
What you're getting: White sangria
The Stone Fox is an oasis in the gritty Sylvan Park. Known as a fine music venue and for its popular weekend brunch, the bar at The Stone Fox is also worthy of your attention -- in addition to one of the best Bloodys in town, its white sangria is made with citrus and mint is the perfect accompaniment to a big order of breakfast tacos.
What you're getting: Butchertown Social
Thanks to its unique triangular configuration at the point of the flatiron building where Broadway and Division St meet, the effect of drinking in the bar at Union Common is like passing time in the bar car of a train as the headlights of cars flash past on both sides of the Art Deco dining room. The ownership group of Union Common is based in Louisville, so it’s appropriate that one of their best drinks is named after that city’s Butchertown neighborhood, which also happens to be where they make the grape brandy that goes into their milk-based Butchertown Social cocktail.
What you're getting: There’s Something About Rosemary
Located in the old Melrose theater, the restaurant and bar at Sinema still maintains the ambiance of the Golden Age, with soft furnishings and gilded accents. True to its heritage as a grand theater, many of the cocktails feature pun-laden, movie-themed names. The refreshing There’s Something About Rosemary takes advantage of herb-infused syrup, Laird’s Apple Brandy, Lillet Rouge, and a bit of cava to add some bubbles. Sinema is definitely ready for its close-up.
Sign up here for our daily Nashville email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun the Music City has to offer.
1. Pinewood Social33 Peabody St, Nashville
2. City House1222 4th Ave N, Nashville
3. William Collier's1402 Clinton St, Nashville
4. The Crying Wolf823 Woodland St, Nashville
5. Husk37 Rutledge St, Nashville
6. The Sutler Saloon2608 Franklin Road, Nashville
7. The Stone Fox712 51st Ave N, Nashville
8. Union Common1929 Broadway, Nashville
9. Sinema2600 Franklin Pike #102, Nashville
This waterfront spot in Rolling Mill Hill has the layout of an MTV Cribs home -- just look at its six vintage bowling lanes, dining room, lounge and outdoor courtyard. While the food is indeed tasty (after all, Catbird Seat veteran Josh Habiger helms the kitchen), people seem to gravitate to Pinewood for the social scene: it's a see-and-be-seen kind of place, which goes hand-in-hand with the pool, bocce ball field, and the strong cocktails.
The James Beard-nominated City House has become a Nashville staple for its creative spin on Italian dishes. The weekly Sunday Supper with its ever-changing lineup is always a hot event, but be sure to make reservations in advance. This Germantown spot is also a great place for wine lovers. Its small, secluded bar is a great place to meet with friends for a quick glass after work, and even solo diners can have a great experience sitting at the pizza bar with a glass of Sangiovese and watching the talented kitchen work the wood-fired oven.
William Collier’s promises “craft cocktails sans suspenders” and also boasts of one of the best whiskey collections in Nashville. Combine these factors for an entertaining evening of unpretentious drinking in Marathon Village.
Featuring all the staples of a hipster haunt -- taxidermy animals, chevron bar top, sprawling patio designed for the consumption of cheap beers -- The Crying Wolf is a East Nashville destination. Burgers are definitely the focal point of the food menu, seconded by a tot-obsessed appetizer list. While you're sure to see plenty of trendsters sipping PBR, the bar also boasts a pretty legit collection of whiskeys (including a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for good measure).
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 in the Melrose neighborhood, The Sutler serves pan-Southern classic fare and is home to live music, making it a premier dinner and a show destination in Nashville.
A rockin’ club by night and creative eatery by day, The Fox serves creative cocktails and craft beers all the time. But during the popular weekend brunch, they know exactly what you need, from chicken and waffles to donuts!
Union Common is located where Division meets Broadway in Midtown in lofty space with a triangular dining room where cars stream by on both sides of the restaurant. The art deco interior and cool jazz playing create the perfect ambiance and backdrop for a creative menu designed for sharing large format steaks, served pre-sliced for easy distribution around the table.
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.