14 Best Bars in Nashville

By KRISTIN LUNA for cntraveler on Feb 27, 2018

Not long ago, the city was filled with sports dives and honky tonks, but today has a veritable explosion of great places to drink.

The best part about bar hopping in Nashville? There's no dress code here (for now, at least). You can have your whiskey-soaked cake—in this case, a killer Old Fashioned served in a design-centric space—and eat it, too (read: zero pretension). And if all else fails, or you just need to get that one line dance in, Broadway will always be waiting for you at the end of the night. Here, our favorite places for a good drink in Music City.


Andrew Thomas Lee

Andrew Thomas Lee

RESTAURANT

Pinewood Social

$$

Pinewood is a hipster-cool hangout for those at work and at play. Young entrepreneurs tap away on their laptops in the Living Room, while restaurant patrons come for Southern comfort food and craft cocktails, followed by karaoke and bowling at the six-lane alley. Although it's more than four years old, Pinewood is still very much a place to see and be seen. (Expect plaid-clad millennials on their lunch break.) By mid-afternoon, the Living Room quiets down as people race to finish the day's work—and start happy hour early (Pinewood's famous for its Easy Like Sunday Morning, a decadent Crema coffee cocktail).

Ashley Hylbert

Ashley Hylbert

BAR

Southern Steak & Oyster

$$

This seafood bar in the heart of downtown Nashville straddles the line between swank and rustic. There are few places right off of Broadway that focus on mixology and serve great drinks; the Southern is one of them. Booze-forward, the cocktails always pack a powerful punch; bourbon aficionados might consider that day's selection of barrel-aged cocktails. Order bar bites like the deviled eggs (the best in town, in our opinion) or BBQ shrimp as a complement to your cocktail(s). Make it your first stop on an evening tour of downtown, or hit up happy hour before a concert.

Angelina Hobbs

Angelina Hobbs

BAR

Rosemary & Beauty Queen

$$

Occupying a lovely old yellow historic home, this newcomer to the bar scene feels like entering your coolest friend's house, the one who scours estate sales and vintage shops for the best in home decor. This has quickly become a neighborhood hangout—people who want a low-key spot but are no longer keen on the other dive bars populating Five Points. The drink list is small but features a spin on all the classics you expect from a nice cocktail bar: Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, G&Ts, and the like.

Andrea Behrends

Andrea Behrends

RESTAURANT

Husk

$$$

Husk draws equal amounts of local scenesters and tourists looking to check a Sean Brock restaurant off their lists. While many come fighting for a sought-after reservation, the bar is one of the city's best gems with an ever-changing list of cocktails that echo the kitchen's commitment to seasonality. Husk has an extensive catalog of bourbon, specialty cocktails, and craft beers. The wine list will impress any oeneophile: It's first broken into category and subdivided by soil type.

Courtesy Fat Bottom Brewing

Courtesy Fat Bottom Brewing

BAR

Fat Bottom Brewing

$

Beer-loving folks from all neighborhoods in Nashville convene at this spacious brewery, easily accessible from I-40. The beer is inventive and the taps ever-changing, whether a prickly pear saison in springtime, or a smoked pumpkin porter and a bourbon barrel-aged oatmeal stout in the cooler months. The Hop Yard beer garden and patio is glorious on a warm spring day. People gather throughout the property, which sits on an acre-and-a-half footprint, and while the afternoon away.

BAR

Bar 308

$$

A bar made out of finished barn wood with a black-bricked backdrop sets the tone for No. 308, which straddles both dive bar and cool cocktail lounge at the same time. Some of Nashville's most well-known mixologists get their start at No. 308; it was one of the first cocktail-focused bars in this part of town when it debuted eight years ago (and Nashville was still all about those domestic bottled beers for $3 a pop).

Courtesy Skull's Rainbow Room

Courtesy Skull's Rainbow Room

BAR

Skull's Rainbow Room

$$

A Printers Alley institution, Skull's first debuted in the 1940s and took a "brief" hiatus (to the tune of 16 years!) before reopening a couple years back. It's still got its sexy, Prohibition Era lounge-y vibe with an emphasis on craft cocktails and live music (including burlesque) every night of the week. Love a little something different? Sip an Old Fashioned while enjoying one of Skull's iconic burlesque shows.

Emily B. Hall

Emily B. Hall

BAR

Acme Feed & Seed

$$

Acme Feed & Seed is the Swiss Army knife of foodie bars: Equally a place for a quick drink, Titans game, fancy date or corporate event, it captures the spirit of Nashville, all beneath one rooftop. This 22,000-square-foot, multi-floored complex is housed in a restored building at the end of the main Broadway drag ending at the riverfront. Curated on-tap cocktail blends and mixed drinks like the Honky Tonk Hurricane are fan favorites, but the real standout on the menu is the local beer selection.

Magnus Lindqvist/1c Museum Hotels

Magnus Lindqvist/1c Museum Hotels

BAR

Gray & Dudley

$$

The bar and restaurant at this hip 21c Hotel are merged with a modern art museum filled with thought-provoking sculptures and artwork. The immediate vibe is swanky, and the drinks as much a draw as the art. With an absolutely massive selection of gin, vodka, whiskey, scotch, rum, tequila, mezcal, brandy, wine and apertifs, Gray & Dudley lays down a standard that is tough for any other bar in the city to compete against.

Andrea Behrends

Andrea Behrends

BAR

Henley

$$

At this lobby level bar in the Kimpton Aertson, Tennessee whiskey has a large role in the menu of specialty cocktails. Want to try something hyper-local? Order the Old Bell, made with Nashville-based Belle Meade Bourbon's Henley Select, Amontillado sherry, Licor 43, absinthe and orange bitters. Henley is a great Midtown spot for a date night, but sit at the U-shaped bar or a table in the front as the booths in the back can be rather noisy due to acoustics.

Diane Kang

Diane Kang

ACTIVITY

Robert’s Western World

$

The word "western" in the name should have tipped you off that this place is cowboy culture at its finest. So kick up your boots and loosen your tie—you're about to have a good time. There are a few "premium" beers, but you might as well order that Pabst Blue Ribbon—no one's judging, and we guarantee your bar tab will never be so inexpensive. Also: You haven't truly been to Nashville until you've sampled Robert's fried bologna sandwich.

Courtesy Santa's Pub

Courtesy Santa's Pub

BAR

Santa's Pub

$

A smoke-filled, double-wide trailer bedazzled in Christmas décor is unabashedly kitschy, and its owner, "Santa," has a legion of fans, both natives and out-of-towners. Did we mention Santa's is a double-wide? It should come as no surprise that PBR is the drink of choice here. In an "it city" that's become populated by cover charges, it's nice to know there's still somewhere to go for a cheap (or free) good time. It's cash only, and there's a house band every Sunday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Courtesy Patterson House

Courtesy Patterson House

BAR

Patterson House

$$

The Patterson House is the classiest place to have a drink in the entire city, and was one of the first craft cocktail locations to hit the Music City scene back in 2009. The drinks are unique and classic. The menu is a blend of Old World-style and bleeding edge cocktail craft. Fresh herbs, house-made bitters, high-end ice, and top-shelf booze are the key ingredients found on the dizzying and satisfying list of specialty cocktails available here. With the almost unattainable dining experience of the Catbird Seat on the roof of the same building, the seasonal creations and small bites on the Patterson House menu are expertly curated by one of the most impressive restaurateurs in the city.

Britt Soler

Britt Soler

BAR

Old Glory

$$

Buried in the depths of an old boiler room in the rapidly expanding Edgehill Village neighborhood, the entrance to this speakeasy is through a semi-secret yellow triangle door and down a concrete spiral staircase gilded with gold railings. The craft cocktail scene in Nashville is a competitive one, and the bartenders at this legit speakeasy are deep in the throes of glory. They challenge the status quo with drinks like the Black Manhattan, Ketel One Pina Coladas or blends of notorious mezcals on the menu.

GoParties