The VICE Guide to Atlanta: Where to Drink


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The VICE Guide to Atlanta: Where to Drink

Thought it was a drought? These are the spots in ATL serving it up right.

Atlanta has always had a penchant for hidden spots and word of mouth. You can't truly experience the city unless you know someone here. It's the truth. And that spot you loved a few years ago, it's probably long gone as the monster that is gentrification has landed among our city limits and is quickly spreading. But hey, what's awesome about ATL is it always says "Fuck it" and just builds cooler places. Somehow your heart recovers, and your nostalgia settles. We are still fighting the good beer fight, but the ingenuity of our craft beer scene hasn't been thwarted. For the first time in almost a century, there's a distillery within the city proper. The bar scene, whether you like your watering holes dive-y or mega-fancy, is spreading its wings. Whatever, wherever, and however you decide to imbibe, Atlanta will take care of your thirst. The devil came down to Georgia for a reason, right? Just don't let him steal your soul.


Righteous Room
Righteous Room champions $12 bottles of wine notably differentiated only by "red" and "white." Its fried dive bar food is cheap and effective at soaking up excess Georgia-brewed beers for the classier crowd. A quick corkscrew trip to the back of the bar reveals a fully loaded jukebox offering extensive Modern Lovers and Fugazi. There's a lot of Morrissey, too, if you're feeling especially shameless—which you likely will be. Most patrons check their pride at the door with the patio's fixture: a stately, senior pug.

Proof and Provision
Underneath the historically bougie confines of the Georgian Terrace, there's a bar that's equal parts intimate lounge and speakeasy cellar. This place is home to some of the best cocktails in the city, period. Some choice offerings include the "Firm Handshake" (Redemption Rye whiskey, Leopold Bros. fernet, Demerara, Boker's bitters), as well as the "It Calms The Nerves" (James E. Pepper rye, copper and kings immature brandy, cinnamon rose-hip brown sugar syrup, and dead rabbit orinoco bitters). Trust me, it sounds crazy, but after taking a swig, it'll all make sense. Since drunk munchies follow heavy drinking, the menu here's got that covered thanks to plates featuring blue cheese cole slaw, and deviled eggs with bacon. The crowd is a nice mix of hotel guests, booze enthusiasts, and the occasional bro who makes a beeline for the exit when he realizes he's the only customer wearing Crocs.


Brick Store Pub
Technically, this place is in Downtown Decatur, which really ain't that far from Downtown ATL. MARTA (our sad excuse from public transportation) still sucks, but you can easily hop a train and have it let you out a few blocks from this Southern booze staple. Since 1997, the place has served up two stories of arguably the best beer selection inside the perimeter. In the last ten years, these guys have curated over 900 different kinds of booze from all over the world, and have become perennial mainstays on all of the city's "Best of Atlanta" lists. And while the beer is the main draw, do not sleep on the snacks. If you try any of them, roll with the Bavarian Pretzel with mustard. Unfucking believable.

The Porter

The Porter
This place isn't as big as Brick Store Pub in Decatur, nor does it have the history, but it's got the right to call itself competition for Atlanta's best beer selection. At over 800 different brews on the menu, it's hard to knock this Little Five Points sip 'n' dine. There's also an extensive wine and cocktail list, and there are plenty of snacks to coat the stomach. A perfect Atlanta day could easily involve sitting outside the Porter on one of their wooden benches, and scarfing down some of the famous salt and vinegar popcorn. And remember, you can come back the morning after for the "Hair of the Dog" brunch, which is tops.

Old Fourth Distillery
It took several starts and stops for Old Fourth Distillery off the ground. Folks in town didn't let the delays keep them from coming out to support the city's first actual distillery since 1906, though. Now Old Fourth serves up its signature brands of vodka and gin, and for some reason, drinking the goods directly from the source makes them go down easier. Typically, locals would have to travel far out of the city limits to do that, but now they can get their clear liquor fix a block down the street from where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up. The Local
There's no exact science behind this, but there's probably a place selling hot wings every other block in Atlanta. In the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, the place to go for arguably the best wing/booze combo around is this hipster haven. Grab a booth, park it at the bar, or chill outside on the patio watching drunken kids stumbling out of MJQ on their way to Clermont Lounge (you'll find both in the Music and Nightlife section). Back in the day these dark, character-heavy spots were the norm on Ponce De Leon, but with the invasion of the mega mixed-used projects like Ponce City Market, there's been worry the legendary street would lose some of its ATL charm. That ain't the case here.


The Argosy

Walking into Argosy feels like entering a giant, modern-style log cabin filled with people celebrating birthdays, going away parties, and Friday fucking night. The place is massive, and you're going to want to have a seat on one of the couches or on one of the log stools. From there, you'll be treated to an impressive drinking menu, and corresponding list of food options. Go with the pizza. Also, Argosy has one of the best patios in East Atlanta Village, and that's saying a lot.

The Glenn Hotel Sky Lounge
Many locals might tell you the best panoramic view of downtown with a cocktail in hand is experienced at the Sun Dial at the Westin. They're wrong. Five dollars and 13-floor elevator ride will take you to the roof of the Sky Lounge in the Glenn Hotel, and the view alone is worth the price of admission, as is the $10 you'll also drop on a fancy cocktail. The crowd's mostly made of hotel guests, and groups of grad students drinking their dissertation sorrows away. The sights of Centennial Olympic Park and the downtown skyscrapers are more than enough to take your mind off of the J. Crew clientele hogging the bar. Little Trouble
Little Trouble is all about atmosphere—you'll feel like you're on the set of Blade Runner. Of course, it has good signature cocktails too, and those are best consumed with a group—some cocktails are two for $10 or four for $36. The people watching at LT also can't be beat. Definitely worth your time, especially if you just stop in for a drink or two.


Little Trouble

The Sound Table
The Sound Table is a spot to go if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of the city. It's the perfect fusion of solid food, creative cocktails, and great music (catch DJ Passport for reggae on the first Sunday of each month). The crowd tends to skew on the older side, which makes it a great place to pregame, because you're going to get fed, drunk, and danced-out way before the clock strikes midnight. This area of Old Fourth Ward on Edgewood Avenue has been overrun with college kids, and transplants discovering the area for the first time, but this place exists in the eye of that terrible storm without being phased. The Bookhouse Pub
Who killed Laura Palmer? If you know the answer to that David Lynch trivia question, then you'll feel right at home at the Bookhouse. The Twin Peak–themed bar is nestled in an always rowdy section of Ponce de Leon Avenue next to a parking lot that's nearly impossible to find a space in. Sit in the laidback front patio, inside, or behind the bar itself in the treehouse-like backyard. Sip a quick brew—there's a hefty beer list, from local to not so—or grab a "Log Lady," a vodka-infused drink that packs a punch. The bartenders are quick and no bullshit, which adds to the appeal. The walls are lined with books and local artist Barry Lee's Twin Peaks character illustrations. The crowd can vary from chill late 20-somethings during the week to rowdy we-just-turned-21 groups on weekends. Choose wisely.


SOS Tiki Bar
Risen from the ashes of the now-dead Paper Plane bar, this hidden oasis in Downtown Decatur will make you feel like you just walked out the Honolulu Airport and into paradise. Seriously, though, it's hidden, so keep your eyes peeled! While the spot is small, with limited seating outside and a handful of booths inside, it nails the ambiance with small torches, a quirky playlist, and bowls (yes, bowls) of liquor. If you're there during happy hour, grab the $5 punch—it's always a pleasant surprise. For snacks, pick between the coconut shrimp with spicy jalapeno sauce or the shareable pupu platter with outstanding tikiyaki sliders. Wash it all down with a "Singapore Sling"—a gin cocktail with the right amount of tropical sweetness. Or share a bowl of the classic Mai Tai. Take your boo or your bff, you can't go wrong here.

Proof and Provision

The Pinewood Tippling Room
If your Twitter bio says "whiskey enthusiast," this is the place for you. (Also, maybe consider changing your Twitter bio, asshole.) Your dark soul will warm up at the Pinewood, trust me. A little yuppie yet still a whole lotta cool somehow, this bar showcases a fancy menu of fully instagrammable cocktails and (are you ready for this?) … Old Fashioneds on tap. It also offers barrel-aged made-in-house cocktails that celebrate those forgotten-yet-always-tasty Southern fruits and flavors, like muscadine and local honey. Enthused yet? The spot is cozy and semi-affordable, with a chill vibe of stools, wood furniture, and dim lighting. If you're a whiskey-drinking person, stop by on Wednesdays with your token bearded friend when it's half price. Talk it up with co-owner Julian Goglia at the bar and drink up.

Leon's Full Service
If you are trying to find a badass mixologist, head to Leon's. This gas station-turned-gastropub is equally hipster and chic, because, yup that's a thing here. You'll find a bocce court, a perfectly manicured outdoor patio, and a large bar area that presents the cocktails in the best way. If you like to drink with your pinkies out, you'll be impressed by the large list of beer and wines. But stay for the cocktails. These guys are acrobats with cocktails—they toss them, shake 'em, and mix them. They are walking encyclopedias of mixers, syrups, and liquors. Their perfectly groomed facial hair adds to the spectacle, but back to the drinks: This is the place to experiment and ask for something you've been meaning to try, or something you didn't even know existed. Mezcal? Genever? Leon's U-shaped bar encourages conversation, so hit up the bartender or your neighbor for advice. Bar Margot
This bar is a living ode to the Royal Tenenbaums' Margot. Yes, it's housed in a fancy hotel. Yes, it's smack dab in the middle of Midtown. But trust us, it's worth the stop for that happy hour drink you need after trekking this fine city of ours. Add the "Gin Margot," a quirky gin and tonic with a touch of sherry, and the "Mercy Street," an Irish whiskey Old Fashioned that will feed your soul, to your must-drink lists. You may spot a celebrity at the bar, but keep your cool as you sip on your drink and listen to the chill blues' playlist coming out of the speakers. It's affordable for being a hotel bar. Don't be scared off by the valet—it's free with validation. So treat yourself to a fancy cocktail and lounge in one of Margot's couches.

TWO urban licks
Here's a great spot to take a date, a casual stop while strolling the Beltline (Atlanta's take on NYC's High Line, only more commissioned graffiti). This slightly swank joint offers wine on tap, which it keeps by the barrel. These guys offer a pretty healthy beer-on-tap choice too, around 50 to 60 selections at any given time last time we counted (admittedly, we were a bit tipsy). What is this magic house of enabling? Stop asking, just go and pickle your favorite organs… with class. There are also good cocktails, if you prefer straws (loser). Ticonderoga Club
A NKOTB of Atlanta's less-stuffy fine dining scene, Ticonderoga Club boasts Wes Anderson vibes (the not-shitty kind—think Life Aquatic), along with a killer "cup" menu. Local cocktail celebs Greg Best and Paul Calvert opened this spot seemingly just to hang out and eat their fav foods (fish sticks?!! Anyway), but who cares because the two designed a drink menu completely saturated with insane booze concoctions. Many of those involve more than one liquor and wholesome-sounding ingredients like "cane sugar." Regardless of cup count, any patron should be able to articulate each non-snobby-sounding-yet-secretly-actually-ritzy cocktail name. Ain't life grander down here?