Nashville
1. Bastion
Wedgewood-Houston

Bastion can be a little difficult to find among the strip of businesses in Houston Station, but trust us when we tell you “never good up and good luck will find you!” (Actually, that’s what’s written in reflective paint on the garage door entrance, so you should be able to spot it if you’re driving by.) The interior of Bastion feels like the coolest loft apartment in town with fun wooden bleacher seating on one end of the room and lots of flexible seating options to sit a spell and enjoy some vinyl music, some of the most creative cocktails in town, and definitely the best nachos around. The daily punch special is always a bargain drinks option to save a little money for an order of those epic nachos.

2. Eg&Mc
North Nashville

This collaboration between the three founders of the popular Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria and a local spirits entrepreneur (the name stands for the owners’ initials and “Educated Gifted Melanated Creatives”) has resulted in a new cocktail and tapas bar that has brought an elevated degree of coolness to Jefferson Street. This neighborhood used to be a cultural center of Nashville before the construction of an interstate cut it in half, so the fact that these savvy businessmen have invested in drawing cocktail fans back in the area is very significant, The casually fashionable vibe befits the chill attitude of the room, and the power move is to “run the table” by ordering all the small plates to sample while enjoying some fine cocktails.

3. LA Jackson
The Gulch

Locals and tourists alike sure do love rooftop bars, and LA Jackson atop the Thompson Hotel is one of the standouts among the crowded roster of Nashville party spots. The indoor/outdoor space offers views of the Gulch below and the downtown skyline from just about every corner of the venue, and a menu of inventive cocktails, beers and wine plus gastropub bites makes LA Jackson an all-night kind of destination. The vibe is even livelier on Friday and Saturday nights featuring DJs.

4. Walden
East Nashville

If you’re looking for some quick and efficient drinking, look no farther than Walden, a homey bar in Inglewood. 36 taps behind the bar are divided between draft cocktails, beer and wine so it never takes long to serve up a cold beverage. Inexpensive house shots accelerate the party when appropriate, and a short menu of bar snacks helps to mitigate the effects of those cheap drinks. Dark wood and lots of green plants contribute an organic vibe to the space, and it’s become a cozy neighborhood hang over the past few years.

5. 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.

6. Lipstick Lounge
East Nashville

It’s hard to believe that in 2021, some studies say that there 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.