Thirsty South aims to share the best sources in Atlanta 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!
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Cocktails & Whisk(e)y Bars
- H. Harper Station: Jerry Slater and friends deliver a whiskey-crazy cocktail list and great spirits selection, not to mention giant, gorgeous bowls of punch, check here for a peek inside
- Kimball House: Decatur’s cup runneth over. Miles Macquarrie moved down the street from Leon’s to the new, elegant digs in the old train station at Kimball House. Look for absinthe galore and classically-inspired cocktails.
- Leon’s Full Service: an offshoot of the Brickstore Pub that makes it VERY hard to choose between cocktails and beer, be sure to get some frites to keep your drinks company
- Mac McGee’s: Hit Mac McGee’s in Decatur for an encyclopedic selection of whisk(e)ys – over 70 bourbons, 32 Irish, 30 Speyside, 30 from the Islands (mostly Islay), and on and on – the back of the menu even aims to educate with detailed descriptions of the selections, the bourbons are broken out by what town in Kentucky they hail from.
- Paper Plane: new Decatur bar run by Paul Calvert. Do. Not. Miss.
- The Sound Table: The Sound Table sits somewhere between a bar, a restaurant and a club, but they have raised the ante on their cocktail game with one of Atlanta’s most interesting cocktail menus.
- Other great cocktail bars:
- 4th & Swift: kickin’ out crazy concoctions sure to satisfy the adventurous cocktail drinker
- Bocado: ever good on the Westside
- Eleanor’s: Muss & Turner’s hidden gem
- Empire State South: yes, they do everything well
- 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 onwards
- Pinewood Tippling Room: why is Decatur so great? The Pinewood is yet another reason.
- Proof & Provisions: thirsty in Midtown? stop here.
- Decatur Package Store: My new favorite. 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: This is the place for cocktail knowledge and vinyl sounds.
- 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
- 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: 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 with a massive and excellent beer list.
- Hop City: beer shopping mecca, for homebrewers and drinkers alike. Now featuring a great rotating selection of freshly filled growlers to go.
- 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
- The Beer Growler: started in Athens, blossomed in Avondale Estates, expanding across Atlanta
- 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
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. The menu offers clever little descriptors for each wine, and some footnotes on their philosophy – such as this gem on the topic of Southern food and its harmonious connection with Burgundy: “we’re tasting locales and their culture, framing sensations in our cortex, feeling a touch in our soul. That’s right, I said the s-word.” Here’s a quick peek into Empire State South, including their stellar coffee program as well.
- 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.
- Southbound: Wine list curated by Eric Brown of Le Caveau, packed with interesting and offbeat choices.
- 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. A cheese counter and grape-based skin care line?! add to the fun. 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
- Sherlock’s: several locations across Atlanta, with varying selections, consistently solid and sometimes rare finds
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
- REV Coffee: slightly outside the perimeter in Smyrna, REV makes great use of their beans, and also has a nice lineup of art and music to keep things lively
- 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 (rumored to be replaced by a Jittery Joe’s out of Athens)
- Also – Empire State South, who can do no wrong!
Thirsty Guide to Atlanta, last updated September 8, 2014
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.