Tempered Spirits

Homemade Cocktails — Experiments, Critiques & Travels

Cocktails in Atlanta

Obviously, this location-specific stuff is only going to be useful for those of your living in and around Atlanta, but those of you who live elsewhere can still glean some tips from this section.

Bars to Visit

Out here in the exurbs, where I am, good cocktail bars are few and far between — in fact, they’re non-existent. You’ll have to head downtown, or at least to the Perimeter. This is the case in most cities, unfortunately. It’s tough in Atlanta, because having a car is almost always a necessity even if you live downtown, and taxis and transit are hard to come by here. Still, if you’re willing to make an effort, here are some suggested bars:

  • Leon’s Full Service in Decatur: fantastically-stocked bar (wine, beer, and liquor); excellent and thoughtful cocktail menu featuring classics and originals; great pub food (french fries and varied dipping sauces recommended). Get a classic drink here, followed by an original. Noisy on Friday and Saturday nights. Walking distance to some great restaurants.
  • Holeman & Finch Public House: well-stocked bar with a great liquor selection, great wine & beer list, and excellent food, most of it meat-based (though the seasonal vegetable dishes are great). Get an original drink. The bartenders know the classics, but they’re not on the menu. Try their “Southern Cola,” also not on the menu. Noisy on Friday and Saturday nights, though stick around for the primo 10 o’clock burgers on Saturday (a bit gimmicky, but fun). Greg Best, head bartender and part-owner, essentially got the ball rolling for the craft cocktail scene in Atlanta.
  • H. Harper Station: A wonderful, quiet, classy cocktail bar that serves some of the best classic drinks in town. Excellent liquor stock. The Bufala Negra has become a signature drink, as have their Cobblers and bowls of Punch. The food is also excellent. Though it fills up on weekends, it remains subdued, decibel-wise.
  • Proof & Provision: Located in the heart of Midtown, across from the Fox Theater, under the Georgian Terrace Hotel, P&P has a “comfy neighborhood bar” kind of vibe, and they serve fantastic drinks. The bartenders, Nate & Alex, are great guys, and eager to share their knowledge and point you in the right mixological direction. They often have Punch and house-made vermouth around. The cuisine is “upscale drunk food,” as my buddies and I call it, and isn’t too pricey. Gets a bit rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights, but not ’til late. My current favorite bar in-town.

For more recommendations, reviews, and lists of places I have and haven’t visited, but would like to, see the “Bars & Restaurants” page. The list includes cities other than Atlanta.

Where to Buy Spirits:

I have a round of liquor stores I routinely visit, and each one has a unique inventory. I try to point out notable finds and my opinions on the Liquor Stores page, but I have my favorites, so here they are:

  • H&F Bottle Shop @ Peachtree Battle Shopping Center: I can’t say enough good things about this place. All of the products they carry are top notch, plus they offer mixing advice, bar tools, glassware, and books. Some spirits are limited in their variety — tequila, for instance — but the bottles that they  do carry are carefully selected. The only pain (for me) is driving downtown.
  • Toco Hills Giant Package Store
  • Total Wine & More in Alpharetta

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