Nashville
1. The Continental
Downtown

Chef Sean Brock’s latest restaurant is an homage to the classic elegance of hotel dining, and the beverage program at The Continental is deadly serious about honoring the traditions of iconic spots like The Waldorf and The Ritz on their menu of historic cocktails with the occasional modern twist. Bar Director Jonathan Howard has been a Music City favorite during his stints at some of the city’s best bars, and he’s created a straight-ahead menu of martinis, classic cocktails and after-dinner drinks that perfectly complement the reverential gestalt of the restaurant.

2. Lipstick Lounge
East Nashville

It’s hard to believe that in 2021, some studies say that here are less than two dozen lesbian bars left in the country, and The Lipstick Lounge is one of the survivors. That’s actually an oversimplification of this neighborhood staple since 2002. While the majority of patrons at LL are indeed members of the LGBTQ community, all are welcome to join in for trivia nights, karaoke, a fun boozy brunch or just a beer and a shot, as long as they are respectful of all human beings. If that sounds like a place you’d like to hang out at, stop in and help keep this important refuge of humanity viable and successful.

3. Rambler Cocktail Bar
Melrose

No matter what Bob Dylan says, there’s no reason to be homesick or blue in this subterranean cocktail lounge beneath The Sutler. Rambler has an urbane loungey vibe without being pretentious, like your friend that can occasionally actually pull off wearing an ascot without looking like Austin Powers. In addition to elevated bar snacks and tight wine and craft beer lists, Rambler specializes in cocktails that are delicious without requiring 10 minutes of preparation. Their affordable “Three Ingredient Classics” are always a wise choice, and even more so during happy hours Wednesday through Friday.

4. Old Glory
Midtown

It’s hard to believe that a three-story bar built in the boiler room of a former dry cleaning facility could be hidden, but that’s the case with Old Glory, tucked away in the interior hallway of Villa Place. Look for the door with the golden triangle, and you know you’re home. Descend down the sweeping staircase and join the party people who are deadly serious about their cocktails made with the freshest of ingredients by bartenders steeped in the history of the classics. Shafts of light beam through high windows across exposed stone and tile walls adorned with living plants during the day, but you’ll probably want to be part of the late night crowd anyway.

5. Sand Bar
West End

Tucked into the middle of the ONEC1TY complex, SandBar is an oasis of good times. Everything about this gathering spot carved out of recycled shipping containers is designed with your fun in mind: sand volleyball courts, frozen drinks made with actual fresh-squeezed fruits, cocktails served in real coconuts, pineapples, and watermelons, ice cold cheap beers, and a child- and dog-friendly patio. The affable staff members are more like cruise directors than bartenders, and that’s a good thing!

6. Attaboy
East Nashville

After a tough 2020 that included closing for a tornado and a pandemic, Attaboy is back at it with some of the city’s most talented mixologists behind the stick. They're again offering custom cocktails created without the benefit of a predetermined menu. After a quick psychological assessment interview by the bar staff, enjoy the cocktail you didn’t know you needed. You can always express your preferences, but it’s better to be surprised.