Thirsty South aims to share the Atlanta’s best sources for quenching your thirst for great coffee, beer, wine, liquor or cocktails. Our focus is on the local shops, bars and restaurants that share a commitment to providing that which is simply well crafted, from microbrews to freshly roasted beans to small batch bourbons and artisan wines. Enjoy!
Atlanta’s Best Bars – Cocktails & Whisk(e)y
Best Liquor Stores
Best Beer Bars
Best Beer Shops
Best Wine Selections – Restaurants & Bars
Best Wine Shops
Best Coffee Bars & Roasters
View ThirstySouth.com: Thirsty Guide to Atlanta in a larger map
Atlanta’s Best Bars – Cocktails & Whisk(e)y
- 8Arm: can not be contained
- Amer: nuanced drinks, intimate setting
- Bon Ton: funky New Orleans vibe
- Eleanor’s: Muss & Turner’s hidden gem
- Empire State South: yes, they do everything well, from coffee to cocktails – and Kellie Thorn kicks butt behind the bar
- Kimball House: Miles Macquarrie and crew rock the elegant digs in this old train station. Look for absinthe galore and classically-inspired cocktails.
- The Lawrence: Eric Simpkins’ cocktails continue to star
- Leon’s Full Service: offshoot of the Brickstore Pub that makes it VERY hard to choose between cocktails and beer, be sure to get some frites
- Local Three: lots. of. bourbon.
- Mac McGee’s: Hit Mac McGee’s for an encyclopedic selection of whisk(e)ys
- Miller Union: refined cocktails to match the locavore Southern fare
- Octopus Bar: late night haunt, 10pm onward
- Pinewood Tippling Room: Why is Decatur so great? The Pinewood is yet another reason
- Ration & Dram: Andy Minchow and crew do it right
- Ticonderoga Club: (mandatory. that is all.)
- The SOS Tiki Bar: the name says it all – TIKI!
Best Liquor Stores
- Decatur Package Store: Superb selection of bourbon, including a number of personally selected single barrel offerings from various distilleries. Herb knows his stuff, whether wine, beer, or spirits.
- H&F Bottle Shop: Think upscale booze boutique.
- Tower: a great all-around liquor store – they may not have everything you are seeking out, but chances are good they’ll at least offer a good alternative, at a reasonable price, and can order something special for you if you need it.
- Mac’s Beer and Wine: surprisingly good selection from this Midtown mainstay
Best Bars – Beer
- The Argosy: major ambiance in EAV
- The Brick Store Pub: if you care about beer, you should care about the Brick Store, who clearly cares about beer. The Belgian selection is especially strong, and frequent special kegs and casks keep things ever interesting.
- Hop City at Krog Street Market: massive lineup of taps serving the entire market
- Ormsby’s: when you want fun and games underground alongside a stellar beer list, Ormsby’s is the place to go. In the burgeoning Westside Provisions District, the crowds continue to pour in for bocce, darts, great onion rings and beer.
- The Porter Beer Bar: the beer list is as expansive as the space is narrow, with some ridiculously good food to boot – the best one-two punch of food and beer in town
- The Wrecking Bar: excellent brewpub right around the corner from the Porter
- … and I have to admit it – Taco Mac does a great job in their many locations (check out the Georgia Chapter Room below the Prado outpost) with an excellent beer list.
Best Beer Shops
- Hop City: beer shopping mecca, including a new outpost in Krog Street Market complete with 60 beers on tap for drinking on site – also major kudos for upping their wine program as of late
- Tower: Tower has seriously picked up their beer selection, with a broad range of regional, national and Belgian brews
- Green’s: probably the first really serious beer selection in town, and still very good
- Ale Yeah!: this Decatur area shop is the yin to Hop City’s yang across town, with a more focused selection of craft brew and a nice little selection of meats and cheeses
Best Wine Selections – Restaurants & Bars
- Bones: if you want a big steak and a big cab, this is the place to go, but the list is deep, broad and impressive especially for reds, including some interesting magnum and larger selections and older vintages at not-as-ridiculous-as-you-might-think prices
- Cakes & Ale: small but well-chosen list that fits their food perfectly. Honorable mention in the cocktail category
- Empire State South: this modern take on the Southern meat and three offers a wine list that is bold, carefully chosen, well priced, and tilted to some of our favorite varietals/regions – Burgundy and Rieslings from Germany and Austria.
- Miller Union: a mix of eclectic and familiar craft wine names in a mid-sized list at decent prices
Best Wine Shops
- Cellar 13 Wine Merchant: John Passman offers a small but excellent array of wines, focused on France and Italy, in this cozy shop near Johnny’s Hideaway
- H&F Bottle Shop: H&F has an impeccable selection of wines and vermouths, and some creative tasting events as well.
- Le Caveau Fine Wines: a great little boutique in Chamblee, with a focus on European regions such as Burgundy, Tuscany, the Loire Valley, Austria and Germany and a nice selection of biodynamic and natural wines.
- Perrine’s: Perrine Prieur, formerly of JOEL, has brought a sommelier’s touch to a fine selection of wines both familiar and unique, with some very nice boutique value selections from France especially. Read more on Perrine’s.
- pH Wine Merchant: this Peachtree Hills boutique rocks an impressive selection of Burgundy, Champagne, and plenty of esoteric finds from around the world as well
Best Coffee Bars & Roasters
- Octane (multiple locations): serious coffee by french press and perfect espresso, using Counter Culture and custom roasted beans, and a staff committed to the art of coffee – great little selection of beers on tap as well
- Dancing Goats Coffee Bar (multiple locations): from Batdorf & Bronson, a Washington-based roaster who also roasts locally here in Atlanta
- Condesa Coffee: a marvelous view of downtown from the Old 4th Ward and the Martin Luther King, Jr. “Homage to King” sculpture across the street
- Taproom Coffee: from Empire State South alum Jonathan Pascual, a coffee and craft beer destination in Kirkwood
- Aurora: a long-lived Atlanta coffee institution in Little Five Points
- Brash Coffee: tiny shop built into a shipping container on the lawn at Westside Provisions District, serving their own imported and roasted pristine beans
- Spiller Park: inside Ponce City Market, from Hugh Acheson of Empire State South and Dale Donchey (formerly of the RATTLETRAP!)
- Also – Empire State South, who can do no wrong! Chattahoochee Coffee Company, the Warhorse Coffee Joint, and unique boutique Chrome Yellow Trading Co. Then there’s newcomer Cafe + Velo, who somehow makes the combination of cycling, coffee, and croissant seem totally natural.
Thirsty Guide to Atlanta, last updated April 27, 2017
If you have a favorite you’d like us to consider, please send along your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. There are many worthy contenders, but we have chosen to keep our lists focused on the top picks for each category. This list is updated (rather in)frequently, so please check back on occasion.
51 Replies to “Thirsty Guide to Atlanta”
Although a chain, I think Taco Mac is worth noting as a good beer bar. Always have tons of selections, and lots to choose from on draft…
Thanks Joe. Yes, Taco Mac does deserve kudos (as in recognition, not the chocolate candy granola bar) for their outstanding beer program, including their “Brewniversity,” and the fact that they have locations all over (including Tennessee!). The main reason they didn’t make the first cut is that their food can be flat out bad, plus that the ambience tends to be much better suited to chugging while watching sports. Not a bad thing, but not quite in the same league as the other bars listed that foster a greater sense of being “about the beer.”
What about Ormsby’s as a beer bar, they have a big selection too.
Thanks Jori, Ormsby’s has an excellent beer selection, and who can deny the allure of an underground bocce court?? Ormsby’s is on the short list for the next round of additions, alongside Young Augustine’s and Cypress Street. We’re also working on a roundup of local brewpubs such as 5 Seasons.
I agree. Ormsby’s is great, but have you been there on a weekend? If you don’t want to wait for a game on a weekend, crave a decent beer selection, and want to be outside instead of in a basement, head on over to Young Augustine’s.
I just stumbled upon your website today and have to say that I am looking forward to becoming a regular follower. As someone who has studied wine, then beer, and now cocktails, I am excited to add it to my bookmarks. Perhaps it is because I am so passionate about the subject, I wanted to send you some tips for other cocktail bars that I feel should deserve a mention. While Drinkshop has some well trained bartenders, Eric and Mitchell are both leaving. Unless their amazing skills can be replaced, this one may be on a downhill spiral.
While your list does include the “Isaac” of the cocktail revolution in Atlanta (Greg Best), I was shocked to find the Father bar missing. No bartender in Atlanta has the mastery of ingredients, techniques, and personality of Nick at Restaurant Eugene (Next to H&F). This is my secret hideaway during 10PM on a Friday night. While other bars are packed with a loud and obnoxious clientele, I can walk right in, take a seat, and be greeted with the same care and enthusiasm usually reserved for bar regulars on a Tuesday night. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving him props in such a public forum, but check it out soon (word is he may be leaving).
Speaking of Tuesday nights, I am surprised Atlanta’s most popular speakeasy did not receive a nod. While they fight back Frat Boys in Shorts and the “Cranberry Vodka” crowd that follows on weekends, Prohibition is a top notch mid-week bar. Sure, every menu in town is putting Sazerac on the list. However, tell Darryl your preferences and you will be treated with a truly unique off-menu creation during less busy nights. Sure, the atmosphere is full blown cheese, but the list of classic drinks is like Cocktails 101 made with enough skill to pull them off. Plus, they also know how to master an ice pick.
Speaking of ice picks, I’ll share another place who knows the importance of damn good ice. Iberian Pig in Decatur. Sure, bartenders here can be hit or miss (most places in Atlanta have at least one dud that should be avoided), but Thomas knows his stuff. Like the “Professor” Jerry Thomas, I think our man here knows the importance of mastering tradition before adding his own touches. Try his take on the Sazerac and you might be appalled at the new touches at first. By the time you finish, you’ll have to admit that they were a welcome change to a recipe older than the Civil War.
I’ve become popular for creating several unique “Cocktail Crawls” here in Atlanta, and my absolute favorite is a tour of Decatur. Not only does it have a dense selection of bars (READ: Without the need to drive between stops you can truly appreciate your drink. Mix with Marta and a wide selection of good food and you have a wonderful concoction). To round out Leon’s & Iberian (I’m assuming we skip Mac McGee’s cocktails and return for non-mixed drinks) a dash over to Cakes and Ale is in order. Corina may have a slightly sweet tooth for drinks, but there have been some serious home runs at this cozy location (Can you say Habanero Gimlet?).
Sure, there are many other places to imbibe, but these are my top picks. There are others like Miller Union and Sound Table that bring up a very solid B-side, however, I really hope you take a chance to check out the above mentioned locations if you haven’t already.
Thanks for the great comments, and for the tip on Drinkshop, we’ll keep an eye on them. Great point on the bar at Restaurant Eugene, it is indeed an oasis of serenity that seems to exist a world away from the often chaotic crowd next door at Holeman & Finch. Prohibition was left off for the very reasons you mentioned. And, YES, Decatur is the king of neighborhoods as far as a homebase for beer/cocktail/wine crawls. Love Cakes & Ale, we included them for their wine list, but the cocktails are absolutely on par. The Westside is catching up to Decatur, but doesn’t quite have the walkability factor yet except for the White Provisions District area.
Summary of changes since September 15:
The Sound Table and Prohibition for cocktails
Cypress Street and Ormsby’s for beer
Empire State South for their wine list
Alon’s (Dunwoody) for their wine selection
REV Coffee and Element Coffee Co. for coffee
TAP for beer (sorry guys, we call it like we see it… )
Summary of changes in November:
H. Harper Station for cocktails and spirits
Mac McGee’s for whisk(e)y
Drinkshop for cocktails
Great site! I’m gonna be here for a while.
Although it’s a in the burbs off I20, Sigman Bottle shop has a great selection of scotches, whiskey’s, rye, bourbons and some of the best selections of these in or around Atlanta, including tequila (my juice of choice).
Thanks Johnny, will have to check out Sigman’s, never heard of it!
If you’re still maintaining this part of it, I’d add:
Beer Bars: Muss & Turner’s
Whiskey Bars: Local Three
Wine Shops: The Wine Cellars (Smyrna), Le Caveau (Chamblee), Hinton’s Wine Store (Roswell/John’s Creek), Hinton’s Savvy Cellar (Sandy Springs), Ansley Kroger maybe?
Thanks Joe, I need to get over to Muss & Turner’s again, but isn’t their selection pretty limited (very good but limited)? Yes on Local Three, and yes on Le Caveau – need to revisit the others (and I can’t add Kroger’s no matter how good they are!)
Summary of changes in July 2011:
Le Caveau Fine Wine in Chamblee
Steady Hand Pour House, Emory Village
Moved H&F Bottle Shop from “Liquor Stores” to “Wine Shops” while they await their license!!!
Summary of changes in November 2011:
Pura Vida for cocktails
H&F Bottle Shop mention for liquor
Alon’s for wine
Check out OTP’s Table & Main up in Roswell on Canton Street. Great Bourbon Bar (super Rye’s too).
Actually I was surprised to see how bigbthe beer list is at chops. Wasn’t expecting much but they had tons of brews listed. Also had a pour of George t stagg…
Summary of changes in March 2012:
H&F Bottle Shop as Liquor Store (in addition to wine)
pH Wine Merchant
Element Coffee in Milton, which closed (almost a year ago, egads! thanks Broderick for filling me in!)
This is great, very accurate from what I can tell. I would add maybe Total Wine for liquor store and wine store. I know people who drive twenty minutes to Alpharetta for their selection/prices, and their service is great. Also you can order online and pick up in store. The one in Dunwoody is just wine because of some old school law.
Thanks E. While Total does have a massive selection and good prices, I’m not a fan of the Walmart-ish atmosphere or the fact that they really push house brands (that aren’t clearly house brands, you wouldn’t know it looking at them). It’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from a place like Le Caveau that is small and driven by highly passionate and knowledgable owners/staff who provide a unique set of choices and a more personal experience. Yes, you can do very well at Total, but it’s not the kind of wine shopping experience I seek out.
Among liquor stores Toco Hills Giant did indeed have a good selection and Anthony was a great resource. Unfortunately he is long gone (almost a year now) and I can’t comment on the new management. It may still be fine but I have rarely been back, choosing to take my business elsewhere. As to Anthony, unfortunately I have not heard where he is now or if he is even in the business anymore.
Thanks for the update, I didn’t know Anthony was no longer there, very sorry to hear that. Will update the listing accordingly.
Summary of changes in August 2012:
Dancing Goats (Ponce City Market location) for coffee
Abattoir for restaurant wine lists
Top Flr for restaurant wine lists
Toco Giant for liquor stores
Summary of changes in September 2012:
Cocktails – 4th & Swift, Eleanor’s, Empire State South, The Lawrence, Local Three, Miller Union, Octane Grant Park, Octopus Bar, Proof & Provisions
Coffee – Empire State South
Beer Bars – Wrecking Bar, Taco Mac
Beer Shops – The Beer Growler
Wine Lists – The Spence
Cocktails – Top Flr
Stopped by Sigman Bottle Shop in Conyers this weekend. I’ll just say that it’s a good thing I don’t live a little closer, otherwise I’d be broke in less than a month. Great selection, very helpful staff, and it’s pretty clear the owner has a passion for fine liquors and wine, I live a stones throw from the Greens on Ponce, and absolutely appreciate the selection of bourbons and whiskeys they offer, but I will now be making a stop by Sigmans each and every time I travel east down I-20.
Summary of changes in May 2013:
Aurora Coffee, Virginia Highland location
Steady Hand Pour House, Emory Village location
Paper Plane for cocktails
Pinewood Tippling Room for cocktails
DRAFT Filling Station on Briarcliff Rd is great. The guys there have great recommendations and their rotating list of beers is awesome!
Summary of changes in December 2013:
Bocado for cocktails
Kimball House for cocktails
The Argosy for beer
Decatur Package Store for liquor
Summary of changes in September 2014:
Lusca and Southbound for restaurant wine lists
Holeman & Finch and Octane Grant Park for cocktails
The Spence for restaurant wine list
When you add new locations the reason is noted in the description at the top of course. But it would also be interesting to hear why you have removed a particular location as well. When you note a location has been removed here in the comments perhaps you could give a brief note about why it has changed in your opinion?
Added Star Provisions for coffee
May 1, 2015:
The Warhorse, Chattahoochee Coffee Company, and Henry and June for coffee
Grain and the Bling Pig Parlour Bar for cocktails
REV for coffee
Southbound for wine list
July 18, 2015:
Added: Vine & Tap and the Luminary for their wine lists
Removed: Proof & Provisions for cocktails
August 18, 2015: Removed Paper Plane (at least until they re-open under a new concept)
October 18, 2015: Removed Bling Pig Parlour Bar, added Ticonderoga Club (not even open yet!)
October 27, 2015: Removed Sherlock’s Wine, added Spiller Park and Brash Coffee (for coffee) and added the Krog Street Market location of Hop City to the beer shops and beer bars lists
Where can I try Jack Daniels Sinatra Century
Hi Shanda, I can’t help you on that one! Haven’t seen it in retail.
January 16, 2016: Added the SOS Tiki Bar and Ration & Dram to best cocktail bars. Removed 4th & Swift and the Sound Table as cocktail bars, and the Beer Growler for beer shops.
Beer Girl Bottles & Growlers shop in Hapeville, GA is awesome!
May 25, 2016: Added Amer for cocktails, removed Lusca (closed) for wine lists.
September 26, 2016: Added Cafe + Velo for coffee, croissant, and cycling : )
March 22, 2017: Added 8Arm for cocktails. Removed the Luminary (closing).
April 27, 2017: Added Bon Ton for cocktails. Removed Vine & Tap (closed), Grain, Bocado, and Star Provisions (moved).
Great selection, very helpful staff, and it’s pretty clear the owner has a passion for fine liquors and wine, I live a stones throw from the Greens on Ponce, and absolutely appreciate the selection of bourbons and whiskeys they offer, but I will now be making a stop by Sigmans each and every time I travel east down I-20.