We're already learning where Atlanta chefs like to eat in our Go-To Guide. Let's also find out where our favorite bartenders love to drink (and eat) when they're off the clock, shall we? Welcome to the Boozin' Go-To Guide. Cheers!
Miles Macquarrie. [Photo: John Maley]
To use one of his own favorite terms, mixologist Miles Macquarrie is a badass—a nationally acclaimed badass with props from StarChefs.com and press from the likes of Imbibe and Food & Wine. Over the years he's slung drinks at hotspots like Holeman & Finch Public House and, most recently, Leon's Full Service, honing his genius craft (and developing a cult following). Now a partner at Kimball House, he continues to painstakingly create seasonal cocktails using impeccable technique and his own house-made bitters and tinctures. His methodical nature behind the bar leads to an anything but methodical night for the rest of us. Take a look at where he likes to wind down after he's taken care of you.
Victory Sandwich Bar is my favorite place to grab a drink after a shift. They're open late, and you're guaranteed to run into chef/server/bartender friends from other nearby restaurants.
I also have to mention Octopus Bar! Best late night food in the city, good drinks, oysters, what's not to love?
The middle bar room at Manuel's Tavern is probably the best room in Atlanta. It is definitely more of an institution than a dive. You can drink craft beer next to a guy drinking cheap whiskey and playing that TV lottery that they have in there. Manuel's looks like it's been there forever—because it has.
Happy hour bar/lounge:
I love Fontaine's. Great dive-y oyster bar. You can find my partners/best friends here every year on New Year's Day. It's a tradition.
Brunch (hungover vs. not):
The General Muir for non-hangover. Love the bagels and cured seafood, and Ginsberg is a badass. Also, Square Feet Studio did an amazing job with the space.
For a hangover, I like going to Home Grown. Comfy Chicken Biscuit or just a classic two egg and bacon breakfast.
Place for drinking and dining:
Empire State South is always so on-point from the moment you sit down until the moment you leave. From the first glass of bubbles to the perfect espresso beverage at the end, they do everything well. Kellie Thorn runs an amazing bar and her drinks are top notch.
Paper Plane is a super sexy room with perfect drinks and great food. Paul's drinks and hospitality skills are superb, and Josh and Melissa are doing some really cool dishes out of the kitchen. Those dudes Ian and Caleb are alright too, I guess.
Bar where you're a regular:
Steinbeck's. My wife and I go here often as we live in Oakhurst. Cool little bar with great beer and awesome bar food. I love the vintage back bar and the staff is always super friendly.
Top three bars not mentioned above:
LEONs Full Service: I will always love this bar. I'm a bit biased as it was my home for the last four and a half years, but it is amazing. Best service in a casual restaurant. The chefs are doing great stuff. Ryan Gallagher, the managing partner/GM has a great eye for new talent and his hospitality skills are great. Kathryn DiMenichi and Shanna Mayo have taken over the cocktail program and spirits selection and they are killing it.
The Pinewood: Julian [Goglia] and the staff at The Pinewood are doing really good cocktails and keeping it fun. While Decatur was having their annual beer fest, The Pinewood was having ginger beer fest. You can also find a different guest bartender from all over the city moonlighting each Monday.
Holeman & Finch: The bar that launched cocktail culture in Atlanta. I would not be where I am today without the motivation and open arms that I received from Greg, Reagan, and Andy when I was first getting into cocktails. I cannot wait to see what they do next. Even though they are not there anymore, Melissa Hayes (who was on the opening bar staff with me at LEONs) is the new beverage director and is filling in the gap very nicely. Her drinks are clean, smart variations on classics.
Out-of-town fave (regional):
Charleston: Gin Joint. Joe is awesome and has done everything right since they opened. The drinks at the Gin Joint are spot on.
Nashville: Robert's Western World. Best honkytonk dive bar ever.
Out-of-town fave (national):
PDT and Maison Premiere. Both happen to be in NYC, but they do have some of the best bars in the world. PDT has amazing innovative cocktails and some of the best hospitality I have ever received. Jim is a badass. Maison Premiere... Possibly the most beautiful bar in the world. Cocktails, absinthe, oysters. They basically opened what we wanted to open at Kimball House but got to it before we did.
Prescription Cocktail Club in Paris. Really great little cocktail bar. They were super friendly, put out really good drinks, and were playing 60's American soul & roll. We felt a little too comfortable here.
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