- Megan O'Hara
Memphis is the home of founders and pioneers of various American music genres, and, as well as being alive with sound, Beale Street is a national historical landmark exhibiting the impact the city has had on American blues. The air is alive with soulful songs here as visitors crowd the live music bars and recline with a cocktail. With Elvis Presley’s former home of Graceland sitting majestically in the background, and a wealth of delicious barbecue joints lining every corner, Memphis provides the perfect place to enjoy a drink and soak in musical history. From chic and charming to cheap and cheerful, here’s our diverse list of the most alluring cocktail bars in Memphis.
The Cove is a charismatic, nautical-themed oyster and cocktail bar, boasting a distinct vintage edge and found in downtown Memphis. Serving classic cocktails from Mojitos to Cosmopolitans as well as their own signature drinks, diners can’t go wrong when choosing from the house specialities menu. With low lighting, interesting eccentric décor and weekly live music sessions, The Cove is a cool, unique venue to drink at in Memphis. Don’t miss Jazz Thursdays where local bands play a variety of old and new material.
Watch out for The Old Fashion: bourbon, orange, cherry, sugar, bitters, lemon twist and soda water
The Cove, 2559 Broad Ave, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-730-0719
Mimicking the rambunctious drinking scene of the 1920s prohibition era, Blind Bear is a modern speakeasy with a sophisticated, dapper edge, serving an array of cocktails and bar food options. This chic bar offers a range of events every week, from Margarita Mondays to poker night Sundays. Keep up to date with their social media channels to find out the password for entry here, a different word every week, and an idea recalling how illicit and secretive drinking used to be in America. Dine on the sleekly polished wooden bar, bask in the low lighting and enjoy a delicious drink here whilst revelling in the drinking culture of a bygone time.
Watch out for The Moll Mule: Grey Goose Melon Vodka, ginger beer, bruised cucumber and lime garnish
Blind Bear, 119 S Main St, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-417-8435
Alchemy boasts a drinks menu developed with the help of hospitality expert Andy Seymour, making it a top spot for cocktails in Memphis. This stylish, upmarket venue in the heart of midtown puts time and effort into creating the perfect drink combinations, and the contemporary interior and modern art give the bar a quirky vibe. The impressive drinks list and professional bartenders add a touch of glamor to the surroundings here, and for some Southern fare with a sophisticated twist, don’t leave without trying one of the tasty small plates on offer, perfect with a martini or mojito.
Watch out for The Zippin Pippin: Bulleit bourbon, apple cider, lemon and maple syrup
Alchemy, 940 Cooper St, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-726-4444
This unpretentious bar in central Memphis is a popular spot for groups of friends looking to enjoy refreshing drinks at affordable prices. The range of alcohol here is impressive, with over 15 types of martini and 12 types of vodka to choose from. Tasty and innovative concoctions are on offer such as Bar Louie’s coconut mint lemonade, excellent for a summer tipple on a warm Tennessee night. A relaxed and easy-going bar where guests can enjoy a well-made cocktail in an upbeat environment.
Watch out for The Mint Julep: bourbon, sugar and fresh mint leaves
Bar Louie, 2125 Madison Ave, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-207-1436
Mollie Fontaine Lounge
Tucked away in a predominantly residential area and charmingly secluded from the public eye, Mollie Fontaine’s is a truly unique bar situated in an historic Victorian mansion. The mismatched furniture, including plush velvet sofas, scruffy leather bar stools and elegant chandeliers, combine with the creative cocktail menu to make this an unconventional and intriguing venue. Eccentric and decidedly bohemian, guests can stop by here for an evening cocktail and meal, or stay until the early hours for a night of drinking and dancing.
Watch out for The Naughty Apparition: tequila, mint, lime and honey over ice
Mollie Fontaine Lounge, 679 Adams Ave, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-524-1886
Twilight Sky Terrace
This trendy rooftop bar is worth a visit for its view of the majestic Mississippi River, and is an excellent place to watch a sunset over Memphis on a balmy evening. The décor is colorful and refreshingly modern, and the hand-crafted cocktails here combine a range of luxury ingredients, such as pecan and honeysuckle vodka, to create complex and original flavors. Drawing in a crowd of young professionals and glamorous locals, Twilight Sky Terrace is a sophisticated venue in which to enjoy an invigorating tipple in beautiful surroundings.
Watch out for The Meteor Mule: absolut ruby red vodka, ginger beer and muddled fresh grapefruit.
Twilight Sky Terrace, 79 Madison Ave, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-333-1243
Functioning as a bar during the week and a late night club on the weekends, In Love is a sophisticated space with a contemporary, minimalistic design. The venue serves a variety of drinks and signature cocktails as well as small plates and light bites in the evening. With an unusually long happy hour from 4-8pm Monday to Friday, diners can relax in this intimate and refined venue without breaking the bank.
Watch out for Between the Sheets: cognac, triple sec, light rum, fresh lemon juice and flamed orange peel
In Love, 7144 Winchester Rd, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-417-8042
South of Beale
Known as Memphis’s first gastropub, South of Beale manages to perfectly combine a warm, friendly atmosphere with a refined menu of food and drink. Their sizeable cocktail list aims to intertwine classic recipes with a few modern ideas, and does this successfully to produce some tantalizing combinations. Enjoying an ideal location right by Memphis’s iconic Beale Street, South of Beale provides urban sophistication without being as lively and full as some of the other bars in the area, with the dim lights and exposed brick walls giving the venue a comforting, homely vibe.
Watch out for The strawberry basil martini: gin, vodka, fresh strawberries, fresh basil, sugar, fresh lime juice and ice
South of Beale, 361 S Main St, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-526-0388
The Peabody Hotel, originally established in 1869, is a Memphis institution and home of the legendary ‘March of the Peabody Ducks’. This daily ritual is an 80 year old tradition in which the hotel’s five pet ducks are led to and from their rooftop home by the hotel’s resident ‘duckmaster’. This event is extremely popular and has been nationally televised both on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Tonight Show with Jonnie Carson. When not watching the ducks, recline in one of the Peabody’s two elegant bars, where guests can enjoy expertly prepared cocktails as well as magnificent live piano performances. With the lobby bar’s martinis voted the best in town by Memphis Magazine, cocktail lovers can’t go wrong in this smart venue.
Watch out for The signature Peabody Cocktail: gin, campari, grenadine, orange juice and ginger ale
The Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Ave, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-529-4000
If you’re a frozen cocktail fan then Wet Willie’s is the place you should be in Memphis. All the drinks here, from white russians to mojitos, are served from icy slush machines, refreshing and revitalizing. With its colorful interior, bright lights and loud music, this bar is a fun, light-hearted spot in which to enjoy a few classic cocktails before partying the night away. Located right on Beale Street, the bar is just paces away from all of Memphis’s most popular clubs and bars, bustling with tourists and locals alike. Attracting a young, vibrant crowd, a night at Wet Willie’s is always lively, wild and unforgettable.
Watch out for Monster melon: fresh honeydew melon and vodka
Wet Willie’s, 209 Beale St, Memphis, Tennessee, US. +1 901-578-5650