Nashville has no shortage of alcoholic offerings, but sometimes you’re looking for something slightly classier than a draft beer or glass of frosé. Whether it’s a first date, a college graduation or an anniversary celebration, a special occasion deserves a specialty cocktail. Here are Nashville’s best places for cocktails in alphabetical order.
Another speakeasy, another set of rules. After locating this unassuming East Nashville building, knock on the door and wait for the host to let you in—if there’s room. (Also note that Attaboy has a camera trained on the front door.) Once you enter the tiny space, the bartender will pepper you with a series of questions and eventually produce a perfectly customized cocktail. Now that’s service!
Order this: Seriously, whatever you want—that’s the point.
Photo Credit: Bar Sovereign
This arsty gastropub feels like it belongs on the other side of the Cumberland rather than nestled on a side street just south of Broadway. Post up at the bar or cozy up in a nook with one of Bar Sovereign’s specialty cocktails, which change throughout the year but are consistently delicious.
Order this: Angel of Hirsch (Angel’s Envy, Jägermeister, honey, lemon, Angostura amaro)
Expect your stress level to plummet upon entering Wedgewood-Houston’s Bastion, where the nightly scene involves creative types sipping Old Fashioneds under twinkling strings of lights. The bar’s single-item food menu (nachos) allows the seasoned staff to spend that much more time honing their craft cocktails.
Order this: Good God! (rum, lemon, banana, spice)
Tucked inside the Kimpton Aertson Hotel, Henley—specifically, bar manager Jon Howard—takes its drinks seriously. Cocktails are thoughtful and intricate, like the Mellow Yellow (tequila, yellow bell pepper, Mantra Saffron IPA, honey, lime, sea salt); even the G&T gets a twist with pink peppercorn, grapefruit shrub and charred grapefruit tonic. Also on tap are a bevy of beers, wines and bubbles.
Order this: Long Weekend (vodka, Lillet Rouge, vermouth, Brachetto d’acqui, Campari)
Gray & Dudley
Executive chef Levon Wallace’s latest restaurant-and-bar venture, housed in the new 21c Museum Hotel, has been earning raves for its infusion of grandeur into the downtown scene. Sidle up to Gray & Dudley’s well-stocked bar, order a Jimi Collins (gin, cucumber, lime, mint) or Humble Brag (vodka or gin, basil, lemon, cassis) and sip as you explore three sprawling floors of modern, interactive art.
Order this: Ribbon Cutter (Jack Daniel’s, génépy, mint syrup, bubbles)
Photo Credit: Josephine
A perennial go-to for refined farmhouse fare, 12 South’s Josephine also serves up contemporary drinks at its sizable bar. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? Try the Cocktail of the Week, the restaurant’s recently launched series that makes its bartenders’ wildest dreams come true. One recent, delicious example: Don’t Ryde About Town, made with bourbon, port, Cynar, black walnut bitters and orange zest.
Order this: The Toronto (rye, amaro, simple syrup, bitters)
LA Jackson isn’t just another rooftop bar in Nashville—it’s the rooftop bar in Nashville. For a seriously swanky experience, make your way to the tippy-top of The Gulch’s Thompson Hotel for cocktails that are on par with the view. (If you value your personal space, we suggest going on a weeknight.)
Order this: Let’s Hang Out? (gin, curacao, coconut, lemon)
While you might be lured to The Mockingbird by its spin on elevated diner fare, you’ll want to stay for its creative cocktails—and two stellar patios on which to sip them. Highlights include the Punching Bag, which is literally a clear bag of spiked fruit punch with a straw plunked in it, and the cheekily named Beach Please! with rum, orgeat, pineapple, coconut and tiki bitters.
Order this: Tequila Mockingbird (mezcal, tequila, lime, egg white)
Like its sister property Old Glory, No. 308 is a trendy gathering spot serving up strong, whimsical drinks. Options here include shots (the Bukowski is Four Roses and Miller High Life), jars of sangria meant to be shared and several bourbon- and tequila-based cocktails. Warning: This bar’s motto is “Sorry about tomorrow.”
Order this: Knucklehead (mezcal, chile liqueur, lemon, agave, black pepper sugar)
World-famous for its men’s bathroom (it was founded as a private gentlemen’s club in 1910), the Oak Bar at Hermitage Hotel is also a grade-A place to grab a stiff drink. Swing by for a pre-show or special-occasion cocktail, like the Austrian Negroni with Stieg Radler or a rotating beverage made with local farm-fresh ingredients. FYI: Oak Bar also boasts the largest bourbon library in town, with 130 bottles.
Order this: Tennessee Waltz (bourbon, Cocchi Americano, Cardamaro, Grand Marnier)
Industrial chic at its finest, Old Glory set up shop in a 1920s boiler room in Edgehill Village—towering smokestack and all. OG’s cocktails are as unique as the setting, with refreshing options like the Jag (tequila, watermelon, lime, pink peppercorn) and the herb-focused Grove (green apple-infused gin, citrus, Luxardo Bitter, summer herbs).
Order this: Hunny Bunz (Diplomatico Añejo, dark rum, grapefruit, coconut milk, honey)
Nashville’s pioneering speakeasy on Music Row is known for its keen attention to detail with every pour and shake. With a handsome square bar and tons of chandeliers, it makes for a great date spot—as long as you follow the house rules. They include: no using your phone at the bar except for texting; no standing; you must be seated to order a drink; and men may not introduce themselves to women without an invitation.
Order this: Leftfielder (plum brandy, orange, red wine, maraschino)
While many cocktail bars are dark and intimate by design, Strategic Hospitality’s Pinewood Social is bright and airy—there’s even a bowling alley and a pool onsite. Matching the lively ambiance is the bar program, which offers cocktails whose names are as fun to blurt out (All My Fancies; Swizzle, Spice & Everything Nice) as they are to sip.
Order this: The Raft Is Not the Shore (Aperol, lime, rhubarb, gin, vanilla, Peychaud’s bitters)
Whether you’re looking for a complement to chef Andrew Little’s contemporary American cuisine or a standout standalone beverage, Prima’s full-service bar has your answer. While recognized nationally for its extensive wine list, don’t overlook the signature cocktails on offer. Tucked in the back of Prima’s elegant space in the Terrazo building, this bar is perfect for a classier-than-usual happy hour.
Order this: Ramos Gin Fizz (gin, simple syrup, egg white, heavy cream, orange flower water, lemon, lime)
Urban Cowboy Public House
This East Nashville bar can skew a bit hipster, but beyond the rustic decor is a warm (literally, thanks to the fire pit) and welcoming extension of the adjacent Urban Cowboy B&B. The Urban Cowboy Public House staff takes pride in putting a modern spin on its wide array of beverages, whether it’s a basil gimlet or a rosé paloma.
Order this: Sherry Cobbler (sherry, Spanish vermouth, citrus, pineapple)
Rosemary & Beauty Queen
A classy joint compared to its smoky Five Points neighbors, Rosemary & Beauty Queen looks like a typical charming East Nashville house on the exterior. Inside, however, you’ll find one of the hippest bars in town. Served in quirky vintage glassware, popular cocktails include the daring Tiny Man (tequila and grapefruit mind eraser) and the rum-based Whipped Cream If You’re Lucky.
Order this: Remake/Remodel (vodka, aperitivo, lemon, ginger beer)
With more than 130 premium tequila and mezcal labels and an entire mezzanine dedicated to the stuff, M Street’s Mexican outpost is a tequila lover’s dream. And the ways to order it are nearly endless: straight shots, flavored margaritas, agave-focused libations, overflowing pitchers. Saint Anejo’s fiesta-like ambiance and cantina-chic fare are just icing on the (tequila-infused) cake.
Order this: Mezcal Mule (Del Maguey mezcal, blanco tequila, ginger beer, cinnamon-orange)
Feeling fancy? Head to this refurbished 1940s movie theater, saunter up the grand staircase and immerse—then Instagram—yourself in the swanky lounge. In addition to a whiskey flight program, Sinema has a specialty cocktail menu that changes seasonally; current offerings include Once Upon a Time in Mexico (mezcal, aloe liqueur, cantaloupe, lime) and It’s All in the Sips (whiskey, Aperol, Amaro Averna, demerara, chocolate bitters). Don’t miss happy hour!
Order this: How Rande Met Cindy (vodka, pineapple, cayenne, St. Germain, lemon, Luxardo Cherry)