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Three cocktails from Paper Crane Lounge at Staplehouse
Paper Crane Lounge
Ryan Fleisher

The Essential Atlanta Cocktail Bars

These essential bars continue to dominate Atlanta’s cocktail scene

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Paper Crane Lounge
| Ryan Fleisher

Unlike the cocktail heatmap, which lists the latest hip drinking establishments around town, this map lists the essential Atlanta bars continuing to dominate the city’s thriving cocktail scene. Each bar mentioned here brings something unique to Atlanta’s drinking culture, with some considered the cornerstones of ATL’s now booming cocktail scene.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Himitsu

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Himitsu is Umi Sushi’s semi-private, Japanese cocktail lounge with a drinks menu created by world-renowned bartender Shingo Gokan. A reservation is necessary to get into this bar, but once inside the scene is dimly-lit and sexy. Cocktails are made with everything from Asian whiskeys and baller cognacs to floral gins. Co-owner Farshid Arshid once described the vibe of the bar as “a place where James Bond and Sammy Davis Jr. would meet for a martini.”

Biltong Bar

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The cocktails here rely heavily on rum, scotch, rye whiskey, and bourbon as base spirits accented with French vermouth, amari, and sherry. But these drinks complement the meaty menu, which includes a selection of beef jerky, tandoori chicken wings, and a hot chicken sandwich. Every Tuesday evening, Biltong-Buckhead transforms into a tiki bar featuring food like pork short ribs, banh mi sliders, and crab rangoon paired with Mai Tais and fog cutters.

Empire State South

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With an extensive wine list curated by sommelier Steven Grubbs and cocktails by beverage director Kellie Thorn, chef Hugh Acheson’s Midtown restaurant has a lot to offer the Atlanta drinker. This well-rounded bar program lists everything from Champagne and hard-to-find cognacs to whiskey and gin cocktails made with exacting precision.

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 base spirits such as sherry, Madeira, aquavit, and agricole rhum.

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. Does Miles Macquarrie (Kimball House) 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.

The S.O.S. Tiki Bar

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A tropical oasis in the heart of Decatur, S.O.S. is a modern take on classic bars like Trader Vic’s. Tiki staples such as the mai tai, zombie, and painkiller are all on the menu here, as are a few S.O.S. originals and a vast selection of rums.

This Virginia-Highland establishment quickly became an essential cocktail spot in Atlanta when it opened in 2016. The walk-up, covered 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. The cocktail menu here is filled with both treasured and obscure classic cocktails.

Lobby Bar at Hotel Clermont

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The Hotel Clermont’s slick cocktail bar just off of the lobby offers a solid list of classics like martinis and Manhattans on its menu as well as original cocktail concoctions. The moody Lobby Bar and its adjacent parlors also serve food, including a burger and oysters.

Bon Ton Atlanta

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Bon Ton is hard to miss on Myrtle Street. The lavender painted building located across from Mary Mac’s Tea Room is the first indication there’s something a bit mischievous about this Midtown restaurant and its bar. Make it a point to order a cocktail here. Bon Ton’s version of the New Orleans rum-based hurricane is as strong as those found on Bourbon Street. The Crescent City’s earliest cocktail, the sazerac, is on tap. There’s even a section dedicated to frozen drinks, including a Vietnamese meets Irish coffee mash-up.

Kimball House

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No Atlanta “best-of” bar list 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 classic drinks, Champagne and absinthe services, and seasonal cocktails full of ingredients straight from the restaurant’s garden. Oh, and its oyster selection is the best in town.

Ration and Dram

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Labeled a neighborhood establishment, 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 boozy brunch cocktails on the weekends.

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. Ticonderoga Club is owned by three forefolk of Atlanta’s cocktail movement: Greg Best, Paul Calvert, and Regan Smith. Cocktails rotate regularly here, but T-Club’s mint julep riff the Ticonderoga Cup and an Irish Coffee are always on the menu.

This pre-Prohibition-style cocktail den in historic Castleberry Hill is named for and fashioned after the room found in most 19th-century homes, where people gathered following dinner to chat and sip digestifs. Cocktails on the menu here lean classic and toward spirits like cognac, rum, and brandy.  

Octopus Bar

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This East Atlanta bar, owned by chef Nhan Le (8Arm, So Ba), 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. Open 10:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

Himitsu

Himitsu is Umi Sushi’s semi-private, Japanese cocktail lounge with a drinks menu created by world-renowned bartender Shingo Gokan. A reservation is necessary to get into this bar, but once inside the scene is dimly-lit and sexy. Cocktails are made with everything from Asian whiskeys and baller cognacs to floral gins. Co-owner Farshid Arshid once described the vibe of the bar as “a place where James Bond and Sammy Davis Jr. would meet for a martini.”

Biltong Bar

The cocktails here rely heavily on rum, scotch, rye whiskey, and bourbon as base spirits accented with French vermouth, amari, and sherry. But these drinks complement the meaty menu, which includes a selection of beef jerky, tandoori chicken wings, and a hot chicken sandwich. Every Tuesday evening, Biltong-Buckhead transforms into a tiki bar featuring food like pork short ribs, banh mi sliders, and crab rangoon paired with Mai Tais and fog cutters.

Empire State South

With an extensive wine list curated by sommelier Steven Grubbs and cocktails by beverage director Kellie Thorn, chef Hugh Acheson’s Midtown restaurant has a lot to offer the Atlanta drinker. This well-rounded bar program lists everything from Champagne and hard-to-find cognacs to whiskey and gin cocktails made with exacting precision.

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 base spirits such as sherry, Madeira, aquavit, and agricole rhum.

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. Does Miles Macquarrie (Kimball House) 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.

The S.O.S. Tiki Bar

A tropical oasis in the heart of Decatur, S.O.S. is a modern take on classic bars like Trader Vic’s. Tiki staples such as the mai tai, zombie, and painkiller are all on the menu here, as are a few S.O.S. originals and a vast selection of rums.

8ARM

This Virginia-Highland establishment quickly became an essential cocktail spot in Atlanta when it opened in 2016. The walk-up, covered 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. The cocktail menu here is filled with both treasured and obscure classic cocktails.

Lobby Bar at Hotel Clermont

The Hotel Clermont’s slick cocktail bar just off of the lobby offers a solid list of classics like martinis and Manhattans on its menu as well as original cocktail concoctions. The moody Lobby Bar and its adjacent parlors also serve food, including a burger and oysters.

Bon Ton Atlanta

Bon Ton is hard to miss on Myrtle Street. The lavender painted building located across from Mary Mac’s Tea Room is the first indication there’s something a bit mischievous about this Midtown restaurant and its bar. Make it a point to order a cocktail here. Bon Ton’s version of the New Orleans rum-based hurricane is as strong as those found on Bourbon Street. The Crescent City’s earliest cocktail, the sazerac, is on tap. There’s even a section dedicated to frozen drinks, including a Vietnamese meets Irish coffee mash-up.

Kimball House

No Atlanta “best-of” bar list 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 classic drinks, Champagne and absinthe services, and seasonal cocktails full of ingredients straight from the restaurant’s garden. Oh, and its oyster selection is the best in town.

Ration and Dram

Labeled a neighborhood establishment, 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 boozy brunch cocktails on the weekends.

Ticonderoga Club

To be a member of this Krog Street Market cocktail club, one simply has to walk in, grab a seat, and order a drink. Ticonderoga Club is owned by three forefolk of Atlanta’s cocktail movement: Greg Best, Paul Calvert, and Regan Smith. Cocktails rotate regularly here, but T-Club’s mint julep riff the Ticonderoga Cup and an Irish Coffee are always on the menu.

Parlor

This pre-Prohibition-style cocktail den in historic Castleberry Hill is named for and fashioned after the room found in most 19th-century homes, where people gathered following dinner to chat and sip digestifs. Cocktails on the menu here lean classic and toward spirits like cognac, rum, and brandy.  

Octopus Bar

This East Atlanta bar, owned by chef Nhan Le (8Arm, So Ba), 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. Open 10:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

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