Nashville has been quite busy the last decade. In ten years, the Tennessee hub has blossomed into an entrepreneurial hotspot and a cosmopolitan boomtown—the South’s premier “It City” of this moment. That action continues on, and nowhere is it more evident than in the city’s on-fire food and drink scene. You can still grab a cold beer and check out some killer bluegrass, as you always could, but now the city has even more options for places to slake your thirst.
Nashville: The city that knows how to do fancy and down-and-dirty.
Hospitality entrepreneurs Max and Benjamin Goldberg introduced creative cocktail culture to Music City when they opened this swanky speakeasy in 2009. Today it remains at the top of its game, with a Prohibition-era ambience that’s second to none.
What to drink: Juliet & Romeo (Plymouth Gin, lime, mint, cucumber, rosewater)Patterson House, 1711 Division Street, 615 636 7724
It’s a bar and restaurant. It’s a bowling alley. It’s a…swim club? This summer, a pool and tiki bar will join the ample list of attractions at this hot, ’round-the-clock gathering spot. The latest from the Goldberg duo of Patterson House fame, Pinewood Social epitomizes the “new” Nashville and draws a refreshingly diverse crowd.
What to drink: District 9 (Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, St. George Absinthe Verte, Maurin Quina, orange, lemon, Demerara syrup)Pinewood Social, 33 Peabody Street, 615 751 8111
Under the wise stewardship of head barman Jeremiah Blake, this ever-evolving East-side spot has become a mainstay of the mixology scene. Inventive seasonal cocktails rub shoulders with a solid list of classics offered in variations to satisfy any palate or budget. Newly expanded patio seating has strengthened the neighborhood following with the promise of great warm-weather drinking.
What to drink: Fuego Siempre (Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, lemon, agave, peach, Bittermens Hellfire Bitters)Holland House Bar & Refuge, 935 West Eastland, 615 262 4190
(Photo by Holland House Bar & Refuge Facebook)
Nashvillians were both proud and jubilant when Sean Brock opened the second outpost of his renowned Charleston restaurant here in May 2013, in a 19th century mansion. Brock’s passion for impeccable variations on heritage foods of the old South extends to the bar. There, offerings include inventive seasonal cocktails, an impressive lineup of bourbons, Southern artisan dry ciders, and even vintage Southern sodas like Cheerwine and NuGrape for the teetotalers.
What to drink: Chestnut Filly (Pimms, Belle Meade Bourbon, lemon, thyme-Viognier syrup, ginger bitters)Husk, 37 Rutledge Street, 615 256 6565:
This popular joint nails the high-low aesthetic commingling that makes its neighborhood, East Nashville, such a sought-after corner of the city. There’s a frequently updated, creative house cocktail list and house-made sodas and syrups. But there are also cheap beers and shots named for writers: Bukowski, Brautigan, Burroughs, and others whose names do not begin with “B.” Debaucherous bonus: dance parties and movie nights.
What to drink: Last Breath (Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, Meletti Amaro, Genapy des Alpes, Luxardo maraschino, lime)Bar 308, 407 Gallatin Avenue, 615 650 7344
(Photo by No. 308 Facebook)
This sleek new addition to the M Street Entertainment Group’s stable brings cantina style to the buzzing Gulch neighborhood in a big way, with a roomy bar area, extensive food and drink menus and more than 120 tequilas and mezcals.
What to drink: Del Santo (Añejo, Cointreau, lime, mezcal float, Tajin powder)Saint Añejo, 1120 McGavock Street, 615 736 5301
(Photo by Saint Añejo Facebook)
A local outpost of a New York concept, this vast, multi-room space in Midtown offers sensory overload—in a good way. The menu features original and classic cocktails, as well as something surprising: house cocktails on tap.
What to drink: Annabel Lee (American Born Apple Pie Moonshine, Sorel, Averna, lemon, Fee Brothers peach bitters; on draft)Music City Tippler, 1922 Adelicia Street, 615 457 3406
(Photo by Music City Tippler Facebook)
No respectable guide to drinking in Nashville can exclude a honky tonk. While there are plenty to choose from, this lively Lower Broadway joint is a sure thing, with live music every day and night, fried bologna sandwiches and cowboy boots lined up on the walls.
What to drink: PBRRobert's Western World, 416 Broadway, 615 244 9552 (Photo by Robert’s Western World Facebook)
Over the high-end cocktail concept? Mickey’s, which opened last year, is the answer: An old-school dive bar with dart boards, pool tables, no smoking, and not a lofty shred of pretension. But, yes, you can still satisfy your local craft beer appetite, not to mention a craving for a grilled cheese made from any—or all—of three cheese options.
What to drink: A shot of Kentucky Tavern and a Miller High LifeMickey's Tavern, 2907 Gallatin Pike, 615 852 5228