Nashville is nationally renowned for its round-the-clock party vibes. For some, that means an Instagrammable hotspot with glittery drinks. For others, the key to a good time here is live music and a pitch-perfect martini.
A spacious indoor-outdoor bar in Germantown is known for built-in cabanas and strong day-drinking vibes. In Printer’s Alley, a Rat Pack-inspired lounge stirs up classic cocktails named after Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits. A trendy Midtown hotel bar shines the spotlight on small-batch Tennessee bourbons.
Nashville’s dynamic bar scene has you covered, whether you’re after an intricate cocktail or a no-nonsense brew. Grab a pal or—five—and head to one of these excellent bars now.
Henley is set in the Kimpton Aertson Hotel and ups the hotel bar game, attracting locals and out-of-towners for its excellent drinks and signature Southern hospitality. The black-and-white tiled floor is paired with striking large-scale artwork and yellow leather-backed bar stools, equal parts modern and traditional. It’s a trendy backdrop to sip on craft cocktails that spotlight small-batch Tennessee bourbons. But don’t fear it if you’re not a whiskey person: Henley also serves one of the best espresso martinis in town. To graze, there are snacky starters such as local beet hummus, baked feta with roasted grapes, and crispy wings, plus more substantial New American plates for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, confirming there is truly never a bad time for a drink at Henley.
Skull’s Rainbow Room (Printer’s Alley)
The days of Prohibition may be long gone, but this former speakeasy is still going strong. The subterranean space opened in 1948 and has a vintage club ambience with tin ceilings, low lighting, and heavy velvet curtains. Its famous black-and-white stage—which has been graced by performers such as Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline—now hosts nightly live jazz performances and lively burlesque shows on Fridays and Saturdays. Expertly mixed craft cocktails are the stars here—for a taste of the past, try the Oh Louisiana, an enticing mix of Cognac, mezcal, absinthe, and grapefruit.
Earnest Bar & Hideaway (Wedgewood-Houston)
It’s no secret that author Ernest Hemingway was a legendary cocktail enthusiast. So it’s only fitting that he inspired this tavern, set in a brick-walled expanse with tufted leather couches, vintage typewriters, and of course, stacks and stacks of books. Try a literary-themed cocktail such as the White Elephant, a refreshing gin drink, or the vodka-forward Rusticana. The Wedgewood-Houston hotspot makes a great stop after an art crawl at the nearby galleries or a soccer game at GEODIS Park, right around the corner.
Love & Exile Winery and Bar (East Nashville)
Tennessee is better known for its whiskey than its wine. But Love & Exile Winery owner Tyler Alkins, a Canadian transplant who created a product he deems “perfectly chuggable,” is determined to change that. Alkins opened this labor of love in an abandoned car garage in 2018. The space now houses a roomy bar with two inviting patios, exuding the feel of a neighborhood pub. It’s an easygoing backdrop to sip wine and snack on shareables such as warm pretzel bites with beer cheese, a poutine with tots and cheese curds (a tribute to Alkins’s Canadian roots), and charcuterie boards (also available in vegan form). Don’t miss happy hour here, offering half-priced wines by the glass from 4 pm to 6 pm on weeknights. If you’re not imbibing, opt for a non-alcoholic IPA.
The Electric Jane (The Gulch)
Nashville’s nightlife scene continues to stretch its wings, and the addition of The Electric Jane is another example of that versatility. Since opening in early 2022, the dining and entertainment venue has become one of Music City’s chicest hangouts. Art Deco-inspired interiors feature sleek velvet upholstery and marble countertops—the vision comes from Los Angeles hospitality veteran Jason Scoppa and Sam Bakhshandehpour. The former ran The Sayers Club, which hosted legendary performers such as Stevie Wonder and Prince. Expect loungey vibes and a globally inspired dinner and drinks menu—fittingly, there’s a sizable martini list—in what’s become one of Nashville’s decidedly hippest bars.
If you’re feeling glamorous, the swanky bar at Sinema is the ticket—and not just because it occupies a historic movie theater. The grand lobby is decked with a sweeping staircase to the second floor, where an Art Deco-esque bar channels Hollywood’s golden age. Beverage director and sommelier Brett Nelson crafted a cocktail program worthy of any A-lister, along with an excellent wine list—bonus points for the many non-alcoholic wine options—and a selection of rare whiskeys. For a refreshing summer sip, try the Oops (Oh, My) featuring Tennessee whiskey, pineapple rum, plantain, pecan, pineapple, lemon, and bitters.
Sonny’s Patio Pub and Refuge (Germantown)
Unleash your inner child at this action-packed oasis. The spacious indoor bar opens onto a large outdoor patio with an assortment of games to play while enjoying a cold beverage. Built-in cabanas line the space, well-suited for any group, including your pup—Sonny’s is dog-friendly, only adding to the fun. The day drinking vibes are strong here: Try a margarita flight with three choices of flavors such as caramelized pineapple, blueberry, and pomegranate, or a power-packed frozen cocktail. Keep up your stamina with creative spins on bar food such as basil pesto and feta-topped flatbread, a smashburger on a potato roll, or the loaded chili and cheese-topped tater tots.
The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club (East Nashville)
Named Food & Wine’s best bar in the United States in 2023, the Fox Bar + Cocktail Club is an intimate, speakeasy-style venue. The snug and sought-after spot is lined with vintage home decor and only seats 45 in its banquettes and bar stools. If you score a coveted perch, flip through the detailed book-style menu and order a Fox Colada, shaken and served on the rocks (in a mug that resembles the animal it’s named for). Or go for a tasty spirit-free option, such as the Cool in Nippon made with yuzu, orange blossom, hops, and seltzer. Small Southern-inspired plates including hot chicken hummus and vegan pimento cheese are served alongside miso deviled eggs. It all adds up to a one-of-a-kind drinking experience you won’t soon forget.
Sinatra Bar & Lounge (Printer’s Alley)
Sip Rat Pack-style at Sinatra Bar and Lounge, an intimate experience inside a historic 19th-century building. The bar and its menu pay homage to the Oscar winner himself, serving timeless cocktails named for Sinatra’s biggest hits—his drink of choice was Jack Daniel’s whiskey, which is prominent on the menu (this spot is the only bar in the world that serves the brand’s Sinatra Century bourbon created to celebrate the crooner’s 100th birthday). The cocktails pair well with an Italian lunch and dinner menu, with hits including ragu pappardelle, chicken parmesan, and a variety of steaks with decadent accompaniments. Note: a business casual dress code is enforced.
Huckleberry Brewing Company (Franklin)
Franklin’s resident brewery opened in a Cool Springs strip mall in spring 2022 and has since become a family-friendly hotspot in the south Nashville suburb. Master brewer Mat Lumm oversees the onsite craft beer production—the brews are on the menu along with other local beers, cocktails, and wine. Pair the drinks with Huckleberry’s top-notch bar food lineup including the brewery burger topped with beer-caramelized onions and a hotdog smothered in creamy beer cheese and bacon. TVs make up the bulk of the decor here, making this an ideal spot to cheer on your favorite team.
Santa’s Pub (Wedgewood-Houston)
One of Nashville’s worst-kept secrets is Santa’s Pub, a karaoke-forward dive in a double-wide trailer, trimmed with holiday decor. But be warned, this is a beer-and-hard-cider-only joint. You’ve got to stand tall, take a deep breath, and give karaoke greatness your best shot. And don’t expect to start a tab—Santa’s is cash only, but there’s an ATM on site.
The Hampton Social – Nashville (Downtown)
The Hampton Social is a multi-story hotspot for creative cocktails and photo opps galore. Pose against moss walls with neon signs, pink floral installations, and a rooftop with sweeping Music City views. Snack on a seafood-forward menu including calamari and crab cakes, plus a cold bar with a seafood tower, oysters, and scallop ceviche. Fortunately, the drinks are just as photogenic as the decor and include the shimmering I Gliterally Can’t, made with sparkling rosé and edible glitter balls. If you order a round of shots for a group, they’ll show up inside a festive pink guitar.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.
Kellie Walton Benz is a food, drink and travel writer based outside of Nashville. Follow her adventures and eats on Instagram at @kellie.benz.
Alice Fort Shearon contributed to this guide.