One of my favorite things to do is saddle up to a bar and order a drink. There is just nothing like it. Before I had my daughter, my husband and I would go out to our favorite spots a couple of times a week. We were such fixtures at some of our haunts that they would start stirring up our usual orders as soon as they saw us walk in the door. Atlanta may be known for a lot of things, a city-wide love of chicken wings, Hip-Hop legends and horrible drivers, but one thing it doesn't get enough credit for is the amazing bar programs across town.
Every bar I list is great place to go solo (as I often do) or with friends or even on a date. I'll update my list as I visit new spots/new bars emerge on the scene but these are my top spots right now.
I could write and entire love story about this bar. The Ponce City Market spot is the first place I went and had a drink when I moved to Atlanta. My husband and I shot our engagement photos here. I am obsessed with this place and for good reason. The staff seriously knows their shit. Most of the drinks on the menu are spirit-forward (served over a single block of crystal clear ice), made with unconventional ingredients like Szechuan pepper and just plain fun to drink. My husband is a sucker for the See You Space Cowboy but I tend to go for whatever is new and seasonal on the menu (read, my favorites often only last a few months and then a new menu is rolled out). Whatever you try, you'll love it. Whether you decide to try out their locations in Alpharetta, Buckhead or Old Fourth Ward, you're in for a treat.
Decatur-based Kimball House may have put Atlanta's drinking culture on the map but it's their little sister restaurant Watchman's, located in Krog Street Market, that has my heart. My absolute favorite thing to do is pull up to the bar solo on a Sunday evening and order a few oysters during happy hour (between 4-6 p.m.) and sling back enough cocktails to make me forget how exhausting it is changing diapers and caring for a tiny human all day. Their menu ranges from classics like a Daiquiri expertly made with sugar, lime juice and rum to my go-to hitter the TI Punch which tastes like an adult mai tai but infinitely better. If raw oysters aren't your thing, no worries, the menu has other options like a fried fish platter or a cheeseburger that might be more up your alley. Also they have a gorgeous covered patio where you can snag a seat if COVID has you concerned about indoor dining.
This Italian restaurant located just off Howell Mill Road was literally the last place I expected to find a good bar program but man, was I wrong. The first time I went to Baffi, I was a little less than two months into motherhood and I wanted to take my mama out on a date before she left to head back to Los Angeles. I ordered an interesting sounding drink that my server told me would taste like a martini but I had pretty low expectations because in my experience restaurant cocktails can be kind of meh. My beverage arrived and I absent-mindedly took a sip and damn near hollered out loud. Holy shit. It was delicious. I made such a spectacle of myself that the bartender started laughing at me. I've gone back to Baffi a few times since and while the food is yummy, the cocktail program is the unsung hero at this establishment. The actually bar is massive AF and has more than enough seats for you and whoever you bring along. There is also amble indoor and outdoor seating so getting in shouldn't be a problem.
Bon Ton isn't some undiscovered bar I'm introducing you to. It's more like Old Faithful but in the best possible way. It took me a while to find my jam at Bon Ton but when I did? Oh man, it was the beginning of a long and enduring love affair. Put aside the fact that the restaurant has the best fried catfish in the city (don't @ me it's a fact). They also have THEEE best Old Fashioned cocktail you can possible score anywhere within the perimeter especially for the price ($8). Their House RX is made with rum and whiskey and is crazy stiff. Order more than two of these things and you're risking your life. Recently, I've also fallen in love with their iteration of a Hurricane cocktail. While nowhere near as boozy as the RX, it's fruity, ice cold and packs a punch. Whatever you choose, it's damn near impossible to be disappointed with either food or drinks at Bon Ton.
I'm a Los Angelino so there was always going to be a spot reserved just for margaritas in this list. El Tesaro is like a Cheers bar except you actually want people to know your name. This laidback neighborhood treasure (literally what el tesaro means) is located in Edgewood and is rarely empty. The tacos, while a tad pricey for my liking, are delicious as is the rest of their menu. But it's the passion-fruit margarita that I crave on a daily basis. I usually order a pitcher with an extra shot of Cointreau or Grand Marnier because I think it adds a little kick that just makes the drink better. My advice? Go for dinner or a late lunch during the week. It gets really crowded during the weekend so don't even think about trying to go Saturday or Sunday for brunch unless you're okay with waiting for a while (margarita in hand of course).