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 to artisan wines. Enjoy!
Thirsty Guide to Atlanta, last updated March 30, 2016
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Atlanta’s Best Bars – Cocktails & Whisk(e)y
- Ticonderoga Club: (mandatory. that is all.)
- 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.
- 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
- Mac McGee’s: Hit Mac McGee’s for an encyclopedic selection of whisk(e)ys
- Pinewood Tippling Room: Why is Decatur so great? The Pinewood is yet another reason
- Other good ones:
- Bocado: ever good on the Westside
- Eleanor’s: Muss & Turner’s hidden gem
- Grain: Fun stuff in a small space – with oysters – in midtown
- The Lawrence: Eric Simpkins’ cocktails continue to star
- Local Three: lots. of. bourbon.
- Miller Union: refined cocktails to match the locavore Southern fare
- Octopus Bar: late night haunt, 10pm onward
- Ration & Dram: Andy Minchow and crew do it right
- 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 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.
- 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
- Other great beer bars: Is it a bar? Maybe? Hop City at Krog Street Market is insanely cool, with its massive lineup of taps serving the entire market. The Wrecking Bar, especially for the unique atmosphere, The Argosy for major ambiance in EAV, 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.
- Tower (Piedmont location): 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.
- Luminary: having fun with the Coravin, not afraid to offer Chateau d’Yquem by the glass
- Lusca: They kicked things off with an all-Loire by the glass list, and the fun has steadily increased since then.
- Miller Union: a mix of eclectic and familiar craft wine names in a mid-sized list at decent prices
- Vine and Tap: nice little wine bar/restaurant, with probably the best use of the Coravin in town – you can get a 3oz pour of any of their wines, any time
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: Decatur shop from Batdorf & Bronson, a Washington-based roaster who also roasts locally here in Atlanta, now joined by a sibling at the new Ponce City Market (check out our opening day visit)
- 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
- Star Provisions: a nice little add-on to the main shop, with its own entrance and earlier AM hours
- 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, the Virginia Highland outpost recently shuttered
- 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 two unique boutiques – Chrome Yellow Trading Co. and Henry & June
If you have a favorite you’d like us to consider, please send along your suggestions to email@example.com. 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.