There are tons of places to enjoy a drink in Atlanta, but when you want to narrow it down to the best of the best, who’re you going to ask? A bartender, naturally.
At least that’s the logic behind the new book “Where Bartenders Drink: The Last Word on the Glass,” which lists 700 bars around the world chosen by 225 experts, ie bartenders. The book weighs in on everything from dive bars to speakeasies in 60 countries.
Five spots from Atlanta and one from Savannah made it into the book, almost all picked by Empire State South bar manager Kellie Thorn, with the exception of one bar — which happens to be Empire State South — chosen by New Orleans bartender Kirk Estopinal. Check out the picks here, and let us know what you think in the comments — are any of these your favorite spots to drink?
“My favorite little neighborhood bar on Ponce, and another industry favorite in the city. If you don’t know the show Twin Peaks it’s still an awesome bar, but if you do, you’ll get all
the fun references. As in, the Bookhouse Boys. But it’s not cheesy and it’s not overdone: the bar is dark wood and
there are stained glass windows. This is not where I go to drink cocktails, it’s where I go to drink whiskey, specifically Japanese malt whiskeys and Scotch. They have an incredible selection. The bartenders are attentive with just the right amount of irreverence and sass. It’s a really fun bar with a great vibe.”—Kellie Thorn
736 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 404-254-1176, thebookhousepub.net/
EMPIRE STATE SOUTH
“In all my travels I’ve never felt more at home than here. They serve great coffee and pastries in the morning, awesome lunch and dinner options. Kellie Thorn’s bar programming is perfect for the space: amazing selections of cocktails and booze nerd stuff, as well as a fantastic wine program. They are the all-arounder joint, whatever you want and with a gracious staff.”—Kirk Estopinal (Cure, Bellocq, Cane & Table – New Orleans)
999 Peachtree St NE #140, Atlanta. 404-541-1105, 404-541-1105, empirestatesouth.com/
VICTORY SANDWICH BAR
“This is an unpretentious and fun bar where they serve their well-thought-out and balanced cocktails in Mason jars and there’s a Jack and Coke slushy on tap all the time.”
913 Bernina Ave., Atlanta, 404-963-1742 and 340 Church St., Decatur, 404-377-9300. www.vicsandwich.com
THE RIGHTEOUS ROOM
“When I want a Fernet and Coke or a whiskey, I go to The Righteous Room. It’s a smokey little dive bar next to Atlanta’s oldest operating movie theater. It still has a nonelectronic jukebox loaded with great music. It’s a low-key bar and it’s always populated with industry people.” —Kellie Thorn
1051 Ponce de Leon, Atlanta, 404-874-0939 and 2142 Johnson Ferry Road, Brookhaven, 770-559-5678. www.stayrighteous.com
“That’s the bar that I take everybody to when they come to visit me. It’s in Decatur, fifteen minutes from the center of Atlanta. It’s run by Miles Macquarrie and he is really talented and passionate and hospitality driven. His cocktails are beautiful; the restaurant is beautiful. To give you an idea of their attention to detail, they have somebody who is devoted to curating their oyster menu, which is always incredible.” —Kellie Thorn
303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502, www.kimball-house.com
“The Grey is a beautiful restaurant in an old Greyhound bus station in Savannah that Bon Appétit magazine named best designed restaurant of the year. Cody Henson runs the bar program and he’s doing a really great job. It’s a classics-driven bar, the kind of place you can go in and order a Gin Martini and trust that it will be perfect.” —Kellie Thorn
109 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah. 912-662-5999, www.thegreyrestaurant.com