Nashville is changing so fast, it’s hard to keep up. Every day it seems as if there’s a new restaurant, bar, or tasting room claiming to have the best wine, beer, or cocktail program in the city. But with so many options (and so few socially-acceptable drinking hours in a day), we did the hard work for you, and scouted out the best new drinks in Nashville.
“Nearest Green” at The 404 Kitchen ($12)
If you love thoughtfully constructed cocktails without the gimmicks, look no further than The 404 Kitchen. This intimate dining space only affords six seats at its stainless steel bar, which is a lot, considering the entire restaurant only accommodates 56 (including 16 spots outdoors). At The 404, chef Matt Bolus and sommelier Travis Brazil create daily food and cocktail menus that stun even the most discerning foodies. With their combined expertise in the room, it’s best to ask what to order and comply.
One of Brazil’s drink recommendations, the “Nearest Green,” is appropriately named after the slave that taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey. Tart and spirituous, the drink combines Jack Daniels’ single barrel whiskey with apple brandy, topped with savory slivers of bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams. If bacon doesn’t tempt your taste buds, just ask Brazil about his collection of international spirits. The shelves at 404 are lined with bottles from far-flung corners of the globe, such as chef Bolus’ favorite: Yoichi whisky from Japan’s Nikka Distillery on the island of Hokkaido.
Arrive before 7 p.m. to snag one of the coveted bar spots, and make sure to save room for food. The bar is full-service, and you won’t want to miss chef Bolus’ homemade burrata (apple, celery, walnuts, lemon agrumato), or the Bear Creek Farms custom dry-aged tri-tip (farro, butternut squash, root vegetables).
“Ole Sorgy No. 2” at Husk Nashville ($11)
Don’t be mistaken: Husk Nashville’s bartenders are just as inventive as its kitchen staff with local produce. In fact, just to garnish his drinks, bartender Mike Wolfe forages in nearby Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park for ironweed, honeysuckle, and wild bergamot. Together with a list of quality Southern liquors, Wolf’s creativity pays tribute to the place he calls home, while pushing the limits on what makes a spirit shine.
For an unmistakably autumnal drink, ask for an “Ole Sorgy No. 2,” which stirs W.L. Weller 107 bourbon with black walnut bitters and a simple sorghum syrup. Topped with an orange peel, this second rendition of the Husk original, “Ole Sorgy” is served over a large sphere of ice, made from reverse-osmosis water. The ice melts so slowly, Wolf says, “it’s like a clear block of kryptonite … it’s really cold but it doesn’t dilute.”
Husk Nashville is located in a beautiful mansion on the city’s Rutledge Hill. You’ll find its bar located downstairs, with 14 seats that pull up to the marble counter, and one corner table, which seats three comfortably. A helpful tip — the bar fills up early with guests trying to eat without a reservation, so arrive between 8 and 10 p.m. to enjoy drinks uninterrupted.
“Zombie” at Music City Tippler ($10)
The folks behind The Tippler in Chelsea Market, New York City opened their second location in Nashville this past August. Music City Tippler boasts a cosmopolitan interior lit by dim Edison light bulbs, complete with high ceilings, fun music and upper and lower level bars surrounded by plush red velvet couches. With its Midtown location, it’s no wonder the space was designed to accommodate 500 guests at a time. And to serve such a crowd, the geniuses behind The Tippler introduced “draft” cocktails — easily poured and easily refilled — something no other bar in the city has attempted.
For something sweet and boozy, general manager David Latimer suggests the “Zombie,” available on draft. Its listed ingredients? Rum, rum, rum, citrus, spice, more rum, and goodness. Or, if you’re looking for something less sweet, ask for a ginger beer — it may not be on the menu, but the hint of spice is a perfect match for fall. Music City Tippler opens at 5 p.m. daily with plenty of room for large parties.
Photo Courtesy of The Tippler