‘Smooth as Tennessee whiskey’ are common lyrics in classic country songs and great descriptors of the amber liquid that flows like water through many of the best bars in Nashville. Here, we bring you a rundown of some of the very best places to drink whiskey in Music City.
Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
Recognized by the likes of Time and Travel + Leisure magazines as one of the best whiskey bars in America, The 404 Kitchen in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood is a must-visit bar for serious whiskey connoisseurs. The 404 Kitchen offers a dizzying array of whiskeys, ranging from standard Jack Daniel’s to a rare 132.4 proof variety from the Charbay distillery in St. Helena, California. In addition to its impressive selection of spirits, The 404 Kitchen has also cultivated a reputation for its modern spin on classic European dishes and was a semi-finalist in the 2014 James Beard Awards for Best New Restaurant.
Located roughly two blocks up 12th Avenue from The 404 Kitchen, Whiskey Kitchen has also been nationally recognized for its fantastic selection of whiskeys. Sample one of the restaurant’s many different whiskeys — which include American, Bourbon, Rye/Wheat, Single Malt Scotch, Irish, Canadian, and Japanese varieties — or indulge in a whiskey flight. If you’re in the mood for something a little different (or if you happen to be dining with someone who isn’t quite so fond of straight whiskey) then you can’t go wrong with one of its signature whiskey concoctions, which range from traditional (the ‘New-Fashioned’ is an updated twist on an Old Fashioned) to out of the box choices (the ‘Black Cherry Spike,’ for example, is made with black cherry soda, vanilla, and Old Forester whiskey).
Embers Ski Lodge may be most famous for its Northwestern ski lodge-inspired decor. However, this 12 South gastrobar is not impressive only for its interior design; in fact, this ski lodge offers one of the widest selections of drinks that you’ll find anywhere in Nashville. In addition to a number of craft cocktails, beers and wines, the 175 different varieties of whiskey available even makes Embers the largest global whiskey program in the entire city. If you’re searching for a bar that offers both breadth and ambiance, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to indulge in your whiskey cravings than Embers.
Located in the trendy East Nashville neighborhood, No. 308 is a favorite amongst locals for both its solid drink offerings and its relaxed modern vibe. Try one of the bar’s many straight-up varieties of whiskey or sample one of the cleverly-named craft whiskey cocktails (the ‘LAX-BNA,’ for example, is made with rye whiskey, Italian liqueur, and falernum). Prices at No. 308 are consistently cheaper compared to many other upscale whiskey bars in Nashville, and from Sunday-Friday from 5-7 p.m., it offers two for one spirits and beers.
Silo, a Southern-influenced bistro in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, is known for its bounty of farm to table menu offerings, such as fried green tomatoes with crab remoulade and roasted Kentucky catfish. This local favorite also offers, however, an equally impressive lineup of drinks; its list of whiskeys is longer than many of the best whiskey-driven bars in town, and its specialty cocktails, too, are inventive and consistently delicious. Come for a drink during happy hour every day from 4-6 p.m. and enjoy a cocktail for only $6.
Since opening its doors in East Nashville in 2010, this speakeasy bar and restaurant has drawn national attention for both its food and stellar drinks. And while this popular local joint offers a plethora of different whiskeys, you would be remiss if you did not try one of the bar’s speciality craft cocktails. While the prices per drink can be a bit steep, ranging from $10-$16, the cocktails at Holland House are certainly some of the best that you can find in the entire city. Whiskey lovers won’t be disappointed by the offerings, either, which range from the simple (the ‘Base Burner’ consists simply of Four Roses and ginger-infused ice cubes) to the elaborately crafted drink.
Searching for a place to sample whiskey in Nashville that is a bit more divey and off the beaten path yet still offers a solid selection of drinks? If so, then The Gold Rush, located on Elliston Place just a few doors down from Elliston Place Soda Shop, is a can’t-miss destination. This joint is a favorite amongst locals for its no-frills atmosphere and its large (and affordable) selection of liquors, cocktails and beer. If you’re hungry, try one of the legendary bean rolls, which are thick bean burritos that have generated a robust local following since the bar opened decades ago. By Katie Miller