Top Nashville Watering Holes

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Vivek Surti of Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures

Nashville is one of the best places in the country to explore your particular imbibing inclinations. You will see people drinking at all times of the day – whether it’s for an early morning football tailgate, a lunch time show at Tootsie’s, or the late night hustle and bustle of Music City, USA. Whether you want an ice cold beer or a carefully crafted cocktail, these are the five best places to grab a drink in Nashville, TN.

1. The Patterson House

Courtesy of With The Grains
The Patterson House was the first real cocktail bar in Nashville opened up by owners Ben and Max Goldberg. Named after the Tennessee Governor, Malcolm Patterson, who took a stance against prohibition in the early 1900’s, The Patterson House makes a number of exciting cocktails in a speakeasy atmosphere. Whether you are ordering a classic drink, like the Vieux Carre (my favorite!), or the inventive bacon old fashioned (made by infusing bourbon with Benton’s smoky bacon), you can rest easy knowing you are in good hands with the bartenders here.

2. No. 308

Courtesy of Startle
No. 308 has a curious story. Owner Ben Clemons proposed to (the other owner) Alexis Soler in room no. 308 at the Ace Hotel in New York City. Long story short, she said yes, they moved to Nashville, and opened up one of the best bars in town. Packed in between a Sherman-Williams paint store and a dive bar called Dino’s, No. 308 is one of those bars that seems underwhelming from the outside. But when you walk in, it is anything but. If you order a whiskey and ginger ale here, the talented staff (oftentimes Alexis and Ben themselves) will make your soda…to order! They carbonate the drinks in front of you. During happy hour, you get 2 of them for the price of 1. But don’t stop there – try one of their inventive shots served with garnishes like fresh watermelon, or one of the extraordinarily well balanced cocktails. You’ll never want to leave.

3. Holland House Bar & Refuge

Courtesy of Nashville Scene
Jeremiah Blake, who is in charge of the bar program here, is arguably the most talented bartender in town. Jeremiah is a student of spirits and mixology. His bar program very much respects classic bar drinks, but goes beyond that to expose guests to new spirits and beverage experiences. That means using unique liquors like Suze D’autrefois (think of it as a white Campari) or New York based Atsby Vermouth in addition to his enormous collection of house made bitters. An added bonus? Happy hour is from normal hours (usually 5-6:30), but also late night from (10 PM – 12 AM)! So go there before dinner or before you go hit the honkey tonks.

4. 12 South Taproom

Courtesy of Nashville Lifestyles
If you are a beer drinker, there is no better place in town to grab a pint than at the 12th South Taproom. The room is about as simple as can be – a nice long bar and plenty of tables (both inside and outside) for patrons to sit at. But there is perfection in simplicity. I’d suggest ordering the potato wedges with blue cheese and letting the bartenders pour you the beer they would drink. You might get some great local brews from Yazoo, Turtle Anarchy, or Calfkiller. Or you may get one of the many excellent craft beers from around the country and the world. The staff here is very well trained and will always guide you in the right direction.

5. Robert’s Western World

You just can’t drink in Nashville without one stop at the honkey tonks. The best one is without a doubt Robert’s Western World. Sure, you may not get ice that has been thrice filtered for the perfect cocktail or a bottle of 1982 Petrus, but who really cares? Nashvillians are extremely low maintenance. That means, when all is said and done – after a day of work, a sporting event, or even a society gala, we want a grilled bologna sandwich, a bag of chips, and a PBR. And we want it for $5 while listening to live music. That’s what we get at Robert’s. Stick around here and you’ll also see a who’s who of Nashville chefs coming in. There’s a reason why!