Food & Drink

The Best New Cocktail Bars in Nashville

Published On 06/01/2016 Published On 06/01/2016

Ever since The Patterson House introduced Nashvillians to the concept of a properly constructed craft cocktail presented by a bartender with a sincere interest in the ingredients and techniques of classic mixology, new bars have sprouted up all over town that actually sell something other than Fireball shots to patrons used to elbowing their way to the front of the madding crowd. Here's a list of the latest and greatest spots to find something new to drink, shaken or stirred.

Bar Luca

East Nashville

This East Nashville neighborhood hang has quickly become the place to gather after a hard day's work to make sure that Nashville maintains its status as an "It City." The tight menu revolves around classic cocktails made using top-shelf spirits. Yes, there's a daiquiri and a margarita listed, but these are the historical versions that Hemingway sipped on. Don't look for a blender behind the bar, you won't find one.

Bar Sovereign

SoBro

You have to know where you're going to find this tiny cocktail emporium hidden away in a strip mall behind a strip club in SoBro. Look for the small brass sign at waist level to locate the door. Once in, dizzying decor stimulates the eyes while modernist cocktails tantalize the tongue. The crowd ranges from tweed vest-wearing hipsters to fluorescent vest-wearing construction workers sitting elbow to elbow at the cozy bar, enjoying a wide range of drinks from esoteric cocktails to canned beers.

Danielle Atkins

Bastion

Wedgewood-Houston

Josh Habiger and the Strategic Hospitality team behind The Patterson House have brought their brand of casual elegance to the burgeoning Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood in the form of Bastion, a new drinking and dining destination adjacent to the railroad tracks that often block your rapid egress from Downtown via 4th Ave. Don't try to beat the train… instead, relax in a sparse, yet comfortable bar area that Habiger describes as "an extension of my living room." Which means he must live in the best apartment ever if it has strings of hanging party bulbs and a list of cocktails that includes a creative punch of the day like Bastion does.

Old Glory

Midtown

Not only did sisters Alexis and Britt Soler create one of Nashville’s most striking drinking spaces in the old boiler room of the former White Way Cleaners, they also won an an architectural award from the Nashville Metropolitan Historical Commission for the way they renovated the soaring space into a drop dead gorgeous bar. At the bottom of a sweeping staircase that enters a hidden alley through the middle of the building, the Soler sisters and their staff are mixing up a constantly changing roster of booze-forward cocktails that delve into the worlds of tiki and rare, hard-to-find spirits.

Andrew Cebulka

Butcher & Bee

East Nashville

Although the restaurant side of Butcher & Bee has been open since the end of last year, it's recently opened the hidden second-floor bar. Which looks down on the bustling main bar and dining area like a secret skybox with great booze instead of stadium beers. The cocktail menu showcases spirits like mezcal and pisco, which might be unfamiliar to many casual drinkers but which should be a part of any proper drinking repertoire. Paired with some small plates of creative eats, there's no better spot in town to expand your palate.

Steadfast Commons

Steadfast Commons

SoBro

A coffeehouse during the day, Steadfast transforms at night into a cocktail-slinging Downtown destination. And it's not just whipping up any drinks, as these cocktails feature esoteric ingredients including sherries, brandies, and aquavit as well as plenty of obscure brown spirits. Many of them are made with coffee -- naturally -- so you can still keep up the pretense of "meeting for coffee" when you're actually "meeting for a mixed drink with some remnants of coffee in it."

Hook Nashville

The Hook

Melrose

For a restaurant that relies on fairly basic fast-casual fare like chicken and fish sandwiches, The Hook sure does serve some excellent boozy drinks. Its patio overlooking Franklin Rd is the place to watch Nashville drive by while you drink away an afternoon ordering slushy frozen cocktails by the pitcher or draft crafts by the carafe through The Hook’s convenient walk-up bar window. The herbaceous smash drinks like lemon, basil & vodka or thyme, rhubarb & gin definitely live up to their smashing names, as well.

Otaku South Ramen

Inryo Bar

Gulch

Tucked into the back corner of the popular Otaku Ramen, Inryo Bar is a Japanese whisky bar modeled after the bars of Tokyo's Shinjuku Golden Gai district, where businessmen enjoy bracing highballs after slurping down bowls of steaming noodles and broth. With a broad selection of Japanese single malts, choosing what to sip or which cocktail to sample can be intimidating. Just say "o-susume," the drinking equivalent of omakase or "chef's choice" at the sushi bar, and you'll be in good hands.

Skull's Rainbow Room

Downtown

Recently reborn, the newest incarnation of the renowned Printers Alley chophouse, burlesque theater, and cocktail emporium is attracting an entire new generation of Nashvillians looking to party like their grandpas did back in the '60s. The steaks are still thick and juicy, and the PG-13 fan-dance show is still titillating... but it's the revival of the ornate bar and the classic recipes that make Skull's stand out over other Downtown drinking establishments.

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Chris Chamberlain is a lifelong Nashvillager. He drinks spirits, yes he do. He drinks spirits, how 'bout you?! Follow him at @CeeElCee.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Bar Luca 1100 Stratton Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

This elegant East Nashville neighborhood hang is the place to gather after a hard day's work to make sure that Nashville maintains its status as an “It City.” The menu has some classic bar bites but mainly revolves around classic cocktails made using top-shelf spirits. There's a daiquiri and a margarita listed, but these are the historical versions that Hemingway sipped on, so don’t look for a blender behind the bar, because you won't find it.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Bar Sovereign 514 5th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203 (Sobro)

You have to know where you’re going to find this tiny cocktail emporium hidden away in a strip mall behind a strip club in SoBro. Look for the small brass sign at waist level to locate the door. Once in, bright decor stimulates the eyes while modernist cocktails and food tantalize the tongue. The crowd at this gastropub ranges from tweed vest-wearing hipsters to fluorescent vest-wearing construction workers sitting elbow to elbow at the cozy bar, enjoying a wide range of drinks from esoteric cocktails to canned beers.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Bastion 434 Houston St, Nashville, TN 37203

Bastion began as a cocktail bar, where creatively named-and-mixed drinks like the Jack of No Trades, Black Sails, and Punch of the Day were as much of a draw as its addicting nachos. A few months after it opened in 2016, it added a 24-seat dining room. Tucked behind a sliding door around the main bar, Bastion's restaurant serves intricate dishes from an oft-changing menu. Half the seats face the open kitchen, so you'll be able to watch the cooks plate items like chicken & dumplings over cauliflower cream and sunchoke ice cream with foie gras caramel.

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4. Old Glory 1200 Villa Pl #103, Nashville, TN 37212

Old Glory in Edgehill Village is an architecturally striking bar that is drop dead gorgeous. At the bottom of a sweeping staircase that enters a hidden alley through the middle of the building, this bar is mixing up a constantly changing roster of booze-forward cocktails that delve into the worlds of tiki and rare, hard-to-find spirits.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Butcher & Bee 902 Main Street, Nashville, TN 37207 (East Nashville)

Butcher & Bee in East Nashville is a hip American restaurant with a hidden second floor that looks down on the bustling main bar and dining area like a secret skybox with great booze. The cocktail menu's got spirits like mezcal and pisco, which might be unfamiliar to many casual drinkers but should be a part of any proper drinking repertoire. Pair 'em with some small plates of creative eats with a distinct Mediterranean flair.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Steadfast Commons - Cocktails & Coffee 301 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN 37201 (Sobro)

Steadfast Commons is a coffeehouse during the day and transforms into a slinging downtown cocktail destination at night. This spot doesn't just whip up any drinks, as these cocktails feature esoteric ingredients including sherries, brandies, and aquavit as well as plenty of obscure brown spirits. Many of the drinks are made with coffee, too.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. The Hook Nashville 2222 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204

For a restaurant that relies on fairly basic fast-casual fare like chicken and fish sandwiches, The Hook sure does serve some excellent boozy drinks. The patio overlooking Franklin Rd. is the place to watch Nashville drive by while you eat and drink away an afternoon ordering slushy frozen cocktails by the pitcher or draft crafts by the carafe through The Hook’s convenient walk-up bar window.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Inryo Bar 1104 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203

Tucked into the back corner of the popular Otaku Ramen, Inryo Bar is a Japanese whiskey bar modeled after the bars of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Golden Gai district, where businessmen enjoy bracing highballs after a slurping down bowls of steaming noodles and broth. This spot offers a broad selection of Japanese single malts, and choosing what to sip on or which cocktail to sample can be intimidating, so we suggest opting for the chef's choice.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Skull's Rainbow Room 222 Printers Aly, Nashville, TN 37201 (Downtown)

Since 1948, Skull's has been the premiere spot in Nashville to get up to no good. This dark, shadowy dive in Printer's Alley operates as a bespoke cocktail bar and burlesque club. Recently reopened with a new PG-13 dancing girl act and a classic chophouse menu, Skull’s has become the retro-chic spot for a new generation of Nashvillians to discover a little slice of the city’s heritage. Plus the exquisite craft cocktails served at the ornate bar rival the best in town. Stop by for their twice-weekly striptease shows and sip on refined cocktails like Sazeracs and Old Fashioneds while you take in the view.

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