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21 Essential Atlanta Bars

Dive bars, neighborhood pubs, and old standbys to grab a drink

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The SOS Tiki Bar.
| Jonathan Phillips/Eater Atlanta

Here, now, it’s time to consider Atlanta’s essential bars. Unlike the cocktail heatmap, which lists the latest hip drinking spots around town, this map of 21 breaks down the dive bars, neighborhood pubs, old standards, and snazzy lounges that have become essential components in Atlanta’s thriving booze scene. Each watering hole mentioned here brings a unique aspect to this city’s drinking culture. Bottoms up.

Map points are listed in geographical order, north to south, and are not ranked. Did we miss your favorite spot? Show it some love in the comments or reach out via the tipline.

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Holeman & Finch Public House

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Holeman & Finch is considered the birthplace of Atlanta’s present day cocktail movement, where the likes of Greg Best, Regan Smith, Andy Minchow, and Miles Macquarrie became household names behind the bar. While all have moved on to own and operate three other essential Atlanta bars, their cocktail legacy still lives on at Holeman.

Holeman & Finch holeman & finch, foursquare/vyne a.

Bar Margot

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Named for the enigmatic Margot Tenenbaum from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums, this Midtown bar, located in the Four Seasons hotel, has become a popular spot for both tourists and locals seeking crafty cocktails in a sexy lounge environment. The drinks program was designed by Atlanta cocktail royalty — Greg Best and Paul Calvert of Ticonderoga Club.

Take a Look Inside Bar Margot, the Four Seasons Restaurant From Ford Fry Bar Margot

Marcel’s old-school vibe channels the Rat Pack, the three-martini lunch, and a little film noir mixed with The Godfather. Look for mid-century cocktail standards like the stinger or the vesper along with ancient classics such as the daiquiri and side car on the menu. A nice selection of scotch and cognac lines the columned back bar.

Marcel marcel, jonathan phillips

Northside Tavern

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This iconic Westside haunt is so much more than drinks. It’s a blues dive bar serving up shots of Wild Turkey, PBR, and live music into the wee hours of the night. Keep an eye out here for celebrity sightings.

Northside Tavern on Howell Mill Road northside tavern, facebook

Empire State South

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With an extensive wine list curated by sommelier Steven Grubbs and cocktails by beverage director Kellie Thorn, celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s Midtown restaurant has a lot to offer the Atlanta imbiber. This well-rounded bar program lists everything from champagne and funky reds to high-end and hard-to-find cognacs to seasonally inspired whiskey and gin cocktails, all with hints of Southern charm.

Empire State South empire state south, andrew thomas lee

The Lawrence

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This bar offers New York City cocktail culture coupled with Southern hospitality in the heart of Midtown. Fronted by a team trained under owner and master barman Eric Simpkins (who himself got his start at NYC’s Pegu Club under Audrey Saunders,) The Lawrence serves up modern takes on the classics and innovative originals built with more unusual base spirits such as sherry, Madeira, aquavit, and Agricole rhum.

The Lawrence
[The Lawrence/Facebook]
The Lawrence

The Pinewood

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With its newly expanded dining room next door, The Pinewood continues to be a dominant force in a crowded Decatur drinking market. Clever concoctions of rum, gin, and whiskey are named after cult movies, left-of-center public figures, and the bar team’s favorite tunes. Stop by for $5 whiskey cocktails on Whiskey Wednesday and a Pinewood burger.

The Pinewood the pinewood, facebook

Leon's Full Service

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One of the first craft cocktail-focused bars in Decatur (and sibling to Brick Store Pub), Leon’s has seen a few of Atlanta’s finest behind its bar at one time or another. Do Miles Macquarrie and Shanna Mayo ring a bell? The bar program continues to focus on classic cocktails as well as its extensive local beer list thanks to its Brick Store ties. There’s rarely a day the patio and bar aren’t packed with regulars seeking liquid refreshment.

Leon's Full Service leon's full service, matthew wong

The Book House Pub

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The Twin Peaks-inspired bar is a regular stop for Atlanta’s hospitality industry employees and locals looking to whet their whistles with a beer and a shot, tikiphiles and taco fanatics on Tuesdays, and cocktail-seekers craving a little cheeky innovation in their glass.

Book House/Official

The SOS Tiki Bar

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A tropical oasis in the heart of Decatur, The SOS is a modern-day homage to classic bars like Trader Vic’s. Tiki staples such as the mai tai, zombie, and pain killer are all on the menu here, as are a few SOS originals and a healthy selection of rums. With chef Jarrett Stieber’s Eat Me Speak Me pop-up now in the kitchen five days a week, there’s never been a better time for glasses adorned with plastic mermaids and drinks on fire.

It’s much younger than other selections on this map, but this Virginia-Highland establishment has quickly become an essential cocktail spot in Atlanta. This walk-up, outdoor bar is housed in a converted shipping container and features dayglo lighting and a mural full of palm fronds. New wave bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, and The Cure (pre-Wish album) play overhead. It’s a little bit of South Beach meeting Empire Records. If that’s not enough to garner attention, the cocktail menu filled with both beloved and obscure classic cocktails by general manager and beverage director Joshua Fryer is sure to do the trick. 

Dylan York

Kimball House

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No Atlanta “best-of” these days would be complete without Kimball House. Located in a renovated train depot in Decatur, the bar has been nationally recognized for its elegant twists on the classics, champagne and absinthe services, and seasonal cocktails full of ingredients straight from the restaurant's garden next door. Oh, and its oyster selection is the best in town.

Kimball House Kimball House

Manuel's Tavern

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Patrons won’t find trendy decor or fancy cocktails with clever names here. Instead, expect a cross-section of neighborhood folk, political junkies, and local bigwigs swigging beer and talking about everything from sports to politics. The historic Poncey-Highland bar recently underwent an extensive renovation, but it still has the same charm.

The Porter Beer Bar

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With more than 400 beers on the menu, the Little Five Points bar is a favorite for Atlanta’s craft-brew enthusiasts. But, don’t sleep on the whiskey selection — it’s impressive, too. Chef Nick Rutherford's daily specials are perfect for soaking up a pint or five.

Euclid Avenue Yacht Club

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After 29 years, EAYC is still a favorite among locals gathering for drinks and chow after work, as well as the curious checking out the Little Five Points scene. Order a cheap canned beer or the dive bar classic Jack and Coke while munching on Brunswick stew and tater tots. The people-watching here can’t be beat.

Euclid Avenue Yacht Club euclid avenue yacht club, google maps

This intimate Inman Quarter bar is as close to a true cocktail bar as Atlanta law will allow. While it serves a few light bites, the real focus here is the drinks with bitters and amari at the center of it all. A place to begin (or end) the night, Amer is bringing European cafe culture to the city’s cocktail scene.

Look Inside Amer, Inman Park's Sparkling New Cocktail Bar Amer

Ration & Dram

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Labeled a neighborhood joint, Ration and Dram is run by Holeman & Finch alum Andy Minchow and has been drawing the cocktail faithful since it opened in 2014. This Kirkwood bar takes the word “craft” seriously, serving up cocktails containing genever (Dutch malted gin,) Agricole rhum, brandy, and pisco. Visit for the rainy-day drink specials or their boozy brunch cocktails on the weekends.

Ration & Dram Ration & Dram

Ticonderoga Club

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To be a member of this Krog Street Market cocktail club, one simply has to walk in, grab a seat, and order a drink. With three of the owners considered the forefolk of Atlanta’s cocktail movement (Greg Best, Paul Calvert, and Regan Smith) and a team of barmen with mad mixing skills, T-Club has become a cocktail mecca without the pretense. This is a come-as-you-are, drink-what-you-please-but-drink-really-well kind of bar where hospitality is king and egos are checked at the door.

Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium

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Operated by local artist Grant Henry — aka Sister Louisa — this spot that anchors the Edgewood Avenue entertainment district may be the weirdest bar in town. There’s plenty of kitsch and religious memorabilia (that may or may not be blasphemous, depending on one’s point of view). If downing beers and shots isn’t enough to entertain, Church hosts ping pong tournaments and karaoke accompanied by an organ.

The Sound Table

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A bar that's seen the likes of booze pros Paul Calvert and Navarro Carr behind the stick, The Sound Table was one of the original cocktail bars in Atlanta when it opened its door way back in 2010. Part night club, part cocktail lounge, the drinks here are classically based, boozy, and full of liquid courage for those interested in cutting a rug to house music.

Octopus Bar

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This East Atlanta bar, owned by chef Nhan Le and the late Angus Brown, is a popular late-night hangout for industry workers in search of a great post-shift meal and equally great cocktails in a punk rock atmosphere.

Octopus Bar Octopus Bar

Holeman & Finch Public House

Holeman & Finch is considered the birthplace of Atlanta’s present day cocktail movement, where the likes of Greg Best, Regan Smith, Andy Minchow, and Miles Macquarrie became household names behind the bar. While all have moved on to own and operate three other essential Atlanta bars, their cocktail legacy still lives on at Holeman.

Holeman & Finch holeman & finch, foursquare/vyne a.

Bar Margot

Named for the enigmatic Margot Tenenbaum from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums, this Midtown bar, located in the Four Seasons hotel, has become a popular spot for both tourists and locals seeking crafty cocktails in a sexy lounge environment. The drinks program was designed by Atlanta cocktail royalty — Greg Best and Paul Calvert of Ticonderoga Club.

Take a Look Inside Bar Margot, the Four Seasons Restaurant From Ford Fry Bar Margot

Marcel

Marcel’s old-school vibe channels the Rat Pack, the three-martini lunch, and a little film noir mixed with The Godfather. Look for mid-century cocktail standards like the stinger or the vesper along with ancient classics such as the daiquiri and side car on the menu. A nice selection of scotch and cognac lines the columned back bar.

Marcel marcel, jonathan phillips

Northside Tavern

This iconic Westside haunt is so much more than drinks. It’s a blues dive bar serving up shots of Wild Turkey, PBR, and live music into the wee hours of the night. Keep an eye out here for celebrity sightings.

Northside Tavern on Howell Mill Road northside tavern, facebook

Empire State South

With an extensive wine list curated by sommelier Steven Grubbs and cocktails by beverage director Kellie Thorn, celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s Midtown restaurant has a lot to offer the Atlanta imbiber. This well-rounded bar program lists everything from champagne and funky reds to high-end and hard-to-find cognacs to seasonally inspired whiskey and gin cocktails, all with hints of Southern charm.

Empire State South empire state south, andrew thomas lee

The Lawrence

This bar offers New York City cocktail culture coupled with Southern hospitality in the heart of Midtown. Fronted by a team trained under owner and master barman Eric Simpkins (who himself got his start at NYC’s Pegu Club under Audrey Saunders,) The Lawrence serves up modern takes on the classics and innovative originals built with more unusual base spirits such as sherry, Madeira, aquavit, and Agricole rhum.

The Lawrence
[The Lawrence/Facebook]
The Lawrence

The Pinewood

With its newly expanded dining room next door, The Pinewood continues to be a dominant force in a crowded Decatur drinking market. Clever concoctions of rum, gin, and whiskey are named after cult movies, left-of-center public figures, and the bar team’s favorite tunes. Stop by for $5 whiskey cocktails on Whiskey Wednesday and a Pinewood burger.

The Pinewood the pinewood, facebook

Leon's Full Service

One of the first craft cocktail-focused bars in Decatur (and sibling to Brick Store Pub), Leon’s has seen a few of Atlanta’s finest behind its bar at one time or another. Do Miles Macquarrie and Shanna Mayo ring a bell? The bar program continues to focus on classic cocktails as well as its extensive local beer list thanks to its Brick Store ties. There’s rarely a day the patio and bar aren’t packed with regulars seeking liquid refreshment.

Leon's Full Service leon's full service, matthew wong

The Book House Pub

The Twin Peaks-inspired bar is a regular stop for Atlanta’s hospitality industry employees and locals looking to whet their whistles with a beer and a shot, tikiphiles and taco fanatics on Tuesdays, and cocktail-seekers craving a little cheeky innovation in their glass.

Book House/Official

The SOS Tiki Bar

A tropical oasis in the heart of Decatur, The SOS is a modern-day homage to classic bars like Trader Vic’s. Tiki staples such as the mai tai, zombie, and pain killer are all on the menu here, as are a few SOS originals and a healthy selection of rums. With chef Jarrett Stieber’s Eat Me Speak Me pop-up now in the kitchen five days a week, there’s never been a better time for glasses adorned with plastic mermaids and drinks on fire.

8 Arm

It’s much younger than other selections on this map, but this Virginia-Highland establishment has quickly become an essential cocktail spot in Atlanta. This walk-up, outdoor bar is housed in a converted shipping container and features dayglo lighting and a mural full of palm fronds. New wave bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, and The Cure (pre-Wish album) play overhead. It’s a little bit of South Beach meeting Empire Records. If that’s not enough to garner attention, the cocktail menu filled with both beloved and obscure classic cocktails by general manager and beverage director Joshua Fryer is sure to do the trick. 

Dylan York

Kimball House

No Atlanta “best-of” these days would be complete without Kimball House. Located in a renovated train depot in Decatur, the bar has been nationally recognized for its elegant twists on the classics, champagne and absinthe services, and seasonal cocktails full of ingredients straight from the restaurant's garden next door. Oh, and its oyster selection is the best in town.

Kimball House Kimball House

Manuel's Tavern

Patrons won’t find trendy decor or fancy cocktails with clever names here. Instead, expect a cross-section of neighborhood folk, political junkies, and local bigwigs swigging beer and talking about everything from sports to politics. The historic Poncey-Highland bar recently underwent an extensive renovation, but it still has the same charm.

The Porter Beer Bar

With more than 400 beers on the menu, the Little Five Points bar is a favorite for Atlanta’s craft-brew enthusiasts. But, don’t sleep on the whiskey selection — it’s impressive, too. Chef Nick Rutherford's daily specials are perfect for soaking up a pint or five.

Euclid Avenue Yacht Club

After 29 years, EAYC is still a favorite among locals gathering for drinks and chow after work, as well as the curious checking out the Little Five Points scene. Order a cheap canned beer or the dive bar classic Jack and Coke while munching on Brunswick stew and tater tots. The people-watching here can’t be beat.

Euclid Avenue Yacht Club euclid avenue yacht club, google maps

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Amer

This intimate Inman Quarter bar is as close to a true cocktail bar as Atlanta law will allow. While it serves a few light bites, the real focus here is the drinks with bitters and amari at the center of it all. A place to begin (or end) the night, Amer is bringing European cafe culture to the city’s cocktail scene.

Look Inside Amer, Inman Park's Sparkling New Cocktail Bar Amer

Ration & Dram

Labeled a neighborhood joint, Ration and Dram is run by Holeman & Finch alum Andy Minchow and has been drawing the cocktail faithful since it opened in 2014. This Kirkwood bar takes the word “craft” seriously, serving up cocktails containing genever (Dutch malted gin,) Agricole rhum, brandy, and pisco. Visit for the rainy-day drink specials or their boozy brunch cocktails on the weekends.