14 Amazing Places to Grab a Drink in Atlanta
Whether your jam is Caribbean cocktails, zero-proof drinks, craft beer or orange wine, these 14 Atlanta hot spots serve up their sips with style.
Photo By: Watchman's
Photo By: Bellina Alimentari
Photo By: Bellina Alimentari
Photo By: Boxcar and Hop City
Photo By: Boxcar Hop City
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Photo By: Cora Pursley/360 Media, Inc
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Photo By: Golden Eagle
Photo By: Golden Eagle
Photo By: Aziza
Photo By: Aziza
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Photo By: Hyatt Regency Atlanta
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Photo By: Justen Clay
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Watchman's Seafood & Spirits
With its focus on regionally-sourced seafood including a host of sustainable Southern oysters, Watchman's Seafood & Spirits is an engaging spot in Atlanta's buzzing Krog Street Market food hall with a cheery Jungalow vibe (think lots of plants and macramé). But cocktail fans will really want to seek out Watchman's for its impressive cocktail program spearheaded by local spirits savant Miles Macquarrie who also oversees the drinks beat at Kimball House in Atlanta's Decatur suburb (and a James Beard finalist in 2018 for Outstanding Bar Program). Macquarrie says the focus at Watchman's is on Caribbean and tropical-inspired cocktails (a.k.a. not the usual tiki drinks) with spins on the mojito, daiquiri, paloma and rum-forward sips to signal an island vibe. Don't miss the delicious, not-too-sweet Colada Phosphate made with rum, pineapple, coconut, cardamaro and acid phosphate (to enhance the drink's tart qualities and keep sweetness at bay without lime or lemon juice).
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An Italian market and restaurant in one, Atlanta's Bellina Alimentari in the Ponce City Market food hall is a great place to grab some charcuterie and cheese for a picnic lunch or linger over some pasta and selections from the impressive, adventurous wine list. Italian wines are the focus here, but Bellina makes an effort to expand the horizons of diners with a well-curated selection of both natural wines and some very interesting orange wines, many sourced from small family farms in Italy. Italian-focused spritzes and amari-based cocktails continue the La Dolce Vita theme.
A Perfect Bite
It doesn't get much better that a glass of orange wine or an Italian cocktail paired with one of the incredible cheese and charcuterie boards at Atlanta's Ponce City Market Italian market and restaurant Bellina Alimentari. The knowledgeable staff will help you curate your cheese and charcuterie selections to fit your wine or beer selection for an even more sublime foodie experience.
The Booming West End
Atlanta's West End neighborhood and the Lee + White development (pictured) is one of the city's most exciting. The New York Times and others have been singing the praises of local Instagram cult burger spot Slutty Vegan and more and more dining and distillery options are popping up on the newest strip of Atlanta's favorite pedestrian path, the Westside BeltLine, including the foodie-forward gastropub Boxcar.
Boxcar + Hop City
A cluster of breweries (Monday Night Brewing, Wild Heaven Beer) and distilleries (ASW Distillery) have opened right on the BeltLine and the gastropub Boxcar, above the wine and beer bar-and-shop Hop City West End, adds elevated fare (don't miss the Kara-age Fried Chicken, the Vagabond buttermilk-fried chicken with pimento cheese and the Beefcake Cheesesteak), to the mix. If curated cocktails and an extensive local craft beer scene are on your ATL bucket list, then Boxcar and Hop City West End and this vibrant, booming neighborhood should be on your route.
Mission + Market
Want to feel like an insider in the heart of Atlanta's high-powered Buckhead neighborhood? Then head to Mission + Market tucked in a canyon of gleaming skyscrapers (don't worry, there's valet parking right up front if you don't want to navigate parking decks). The bar scene is hopping, with throngs of workers from nearby office towers and a nicely compact, curated cocktail list including plenty of zero-proof cocktails for those watching their figure or alcohol intake. Chef Ian Winslade (and "Beat Bobby Flay" on Food Network contestant) serves up New American fare like a crisp-on-the-outside and delicate-inside snapper with herbacious risotto and an appetizer of citrus-marinated oysters from Washington State with paddlefish caviar that perfectly balances fresh brininess and acidic-meets-sweet tartness. The Mission + Market setting is dramatic (perfect for date night), with soaring ceilings and lots of glass but somehow—with the attentive service and Winslade commandeering things from the open kitchen—Mission + Market still feels intimate, warm and pretense-free.
With more and more bartenders trying to create inventive, flavorful non-alcoholic cocktails, Mission + Market in Atlanta's tony Buckhead neighborhood offers a strong showing of sober sips. Lost at Sea (pictured) is just one of the non-alcoholic offerings at this restaurant focused on casual West Coast fare.
A Vegan Cocktail
The Reduced to Ashes cocktail with tequila, mezcal, fresh lime juice, butterfly tea and aquafaba (an egg white substitute made with chickpeas) at Saltwood Charcuterie and Bar in Loews Atlanta is the perfect encapsulation of this bar program's merits. In-house cocktail impresario Ramsey Kashlan (a veteran of One Flew South) delivers the goods when it comes to taste and presentation and the focus on Southern bites at Saltwood makes for a nice deep dive into all this Southern city has to offer.
Located in the heart of the ritzy The Shops Buckhead (with a second, smaller location at the Atlanta food hall Ponce City Market), Biltong Bar has a host of adventurous options for cocktail fans. A Tiki Tuesday menu (check availability as summer gives way to fall) features classic drinks like Mai Tais, Fog Cutters and Rum Barrels served in festive vessels and rounds out the already copious boozy options from beverage director Sean Gleason. Gleason is a cocktail historian. "I like spirits that have a story," he says. And he's also big on technique. Much of Gleason's work is done behind the scenes, beyond the eyes of customers, with infusions, centrifuges, sous vide and other gadgetry and tinkering employed in the quest for world-class cocktails. Gleason's signature cocktails have a globe-trotting flair with French Chartreuse and Japanese gin on offer. But even the classics, like the Old-Fashioned at Biltong get a tweak, offering customers fresh interpretations of old standards like a rye whiskey simple syrup. If you want to go really old school, the bar program boasts extensive absinthe offerings. Instead of "Happy Hour" the bar boasts "Happy Meals" with spiked sodas and paper-wrapped snacks to conjure up a cheeky drive-through association.
A blend of mezcal, clarified lemon, blanc vermouth, sage and lavender soda, the Summer Dresses cocktail (pictured) at Atlanta's Biltong Bar in Buckhead shows the creativity of this South African hot spot's drinks program. This South African gastropub bills itself as "beef jerky and booze" (biltong means beef jerky and is a traditional South African snack) spot with Indian, French and Malaysian dishes on offer. A creative bar menu with exotic French-Caribbean sips like a trendy Chartreuse Colada and other imaginative offerings make this a great drinks destination if a respite from a day of shopping is on your calendar.
Ultra-stylish, with the dark, moody ambiance of an old school Fifties-era cocktail destination, Golden Eagle in Atlanta's booming Reynoldstown neighborhood specializes in equally nostalgia-inducing sips. A mix of signature drinks is served alongside classics like the Suffering Bastard or the Traveling Suitcase, a twist on the traditional Old Fashioned, that is stored and served bar- or table-side out of a vintage suitcase.
The Rise of the Phoenix (serves three) at Golden Eagle is one of the savvy sips offered by bar manager Jeff Stockton in a cocktail program that is as imaginative as it is delicious. The restaurant's location (with a new outdoor patio) on Atlanta's pedestrian and bike-centric BeltLine means you can walk off all of those boozy calories.
Popular Ponce City Market Italian restaurant and market Bellina Alimentari is a go-to destination for delicious fare. Now Bellina owner Tal Baum has branched out with Aziza, a modern Israeli restaurant that debuted in summer 2019 with an exotic interior evoking Baum's Israeli childhood from Atlanta-based design firm Smith Hanes.
New Kid on the Block
The new "modern" Israeli restaurant at Atlanta's vibrant food and shopping Westside Provisions, Aziza offers chic, bazaar-style furnishings (think thick velvet curtains, jewel tones, onion-dome rattan light fixtures and low lighting) and cocktails (like the rum and toasted coconut cocktail shown here) and wines from Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.
A Bespoke Speakeasy
With interior design by Britain's Tom Dixon and a cocktail program from international mixologist whiz kid Shingo Gokan, the posh Atlanta speakeasy Himitsu is a movie star magnet and a required destination for cocktail nuts. Because it's a reservation-only cocktail bar, you'll need to check in and follow instructions at Himitsu's website to access some of the best drinks in town.
One Flew South
You don't even have to leave Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to experience some of the best in local cocktail culture. One Flew South in the international terminal has a top-notch food program from celebrated Atlanta chef and Soul cookbook author Todd Richards (don't miss the collard green ramen) that will make you forget you are eating in an airport. A deep-cuts cocktail menu offers everything from classics like an Old-Fashioned, Sazerac, Aperol Spritz and newer inventions like the Nearest to Happiness (pictured) featuring Uncle Nearest 1856 whiskey, lillet rouge, lemon, simple syrup and muddled blueberries and mint. One Flew South is about as far as you can get from a sad, sugary airport margarita.
Located in the heart of Atlanta's walkable, happening Midtown neighborhood, The Lawrence features contemporary fare with a Southern-forward focus including black-eyed pea hummus, cucumber-peach gazpacho, smoked gouda mac and cheese as well as a clever, well-curated bar program.
You Need This Cocktail
The Lawrence features a cocktail menu developed communally by its talented team of bartenders, with a surfeit of wit and imagination. Belly up to the winding front-and-center bar to chat with the knowledgable staff and to sample some of the summer cocktails inspired by favorite movies like the Addams Family Values sip I'd Pity Him with gin, Sambuca, passionfruit, blackberries, blueberries, mint, lemon and cava.
Prepare for Some Spin
The Polaris rotating bar and restaurant in Atlanta architect John Portman's stunning Hyatt Regency Atlanta first opened in 1967 and was remodeled and relaunched in 2014. Despite its location in the middle of Atlanta's downtown touristy convention-central, two-hours free valet parking and an incredible view make this a must-do for cocktail fans. The Maple Old-Fashioned with brûléed orange, is worth checking out and the mixologist definitely cares about his craft. On the downside, the bar has a wonky reservation policy (even large groups can't make reservations for cocktails, only dinner) and when you check-in at the hostess stand in the Hyatt lobby you will invariably be asked to wait no matter how crowded the bar is. But the view and the experience make up for some of the annoying bureaucracy.
Decatur's The Pinewood
Located in the crunchy, cozy Atlanta suburb of Decatur, The Pinewood is a popular destination with local cocktail fans. Craft cocktails like the Atlantan and Blueberry Hill Punch for whiskey fans and a mix of boozy flights allow revelers to expand their cocktail repertoire and up their spirits knowledge.
Pinewood's Goomah Cocktail
A refreshing blend of vodka, limoncello, campari and orange Pinewood's Goomah is one of the rotating crafted cocktails on offer at this gastropub located in Atlanta's Decatur neighborhood.
The S.O.S. Tiki Bar
With a focus on Caribbean dishes and coastal seafood, the tiki-centric Decatur cocktail spot S.O.S. Tiki Bar puts fun front and center with a rotating happy hour punch, $100 punch bowls "for 6-8 hearty souls," festive drinks like classic Mai Tais and Zombies served in coconuts and pineapples and a catalogue of 1,000 rums. Cheeky newfangled cocktails like Coke Problem (made with rum, coffee-cola syrup, amaro, lime and bitters) and an absinthe colada are among the creative sips on offer.