The South's Best Bars 2020

The Alley Cat Lounge
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

When you're visiting a new city, there's something undeniably appealing about wandering into the corner bar and sitting down for a drink. It's a great way to get to know a place and take in a quick snapshot of the local culture. But these bars offer much more than a cushioned stool to rest your weary legs for an hour. They've crafted their cocktail menus and wine lists with intense attention to detail and restaurant-like precision.

Of all the places in the South where you can recline with a nice Old Fashioned (trust us, there are many), these innovative bars have risen to the top of their class. They take cocktails seriously, approaching mixology from the perspective of equal parts scientist and artist. And most importantly, they're places that will welcome you in, whether you're a regular or you're visiting town for one night only. Come for happy hour drinks and light bar bites—stay for guaranteed good times.

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10. Ticonderoga Club (Atlanta, Georgia)

Ticonderoga Club
Brian Manley

At this Colonial-style bar hidden inside Atlanta's Krog Street Market, enjoy terrific plates, bold cocktails, and boisterous bartenders., 404-458-4534, 99 Krog Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30307

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9. Columbia Room (Washington, D.C.)

Columbia Room Patio
Nicholas Karlin

Sip in style at this D.C. hot spot that celebrates the art of the cocktail. Indulge in an intimate dining experience in the Tasting Room; order a Grasshopper Julep in the Spirits Library; or start a night out in the lush, whimsical Punch Garden., 202-316-9396, 124 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

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8. The Atomic Bar & Lounge (Birmingham, Alabama)

The Atomic Bar & Lounge
Robbie Caponetto

At random moments, bubbles fall from the ceiling at this eclectic Magic City haunt. Cozy up in one of the secluded alcoves for date night, or gather a group of friends and take advantage of the loan-out costumes., 205-983-7887, 2113 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203

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7. The Expat (Athens, Georgia)

The Expat
courtesy of The Expat

This two-story bungalow brings sustainable wine, French bites, and classic cocktails to Athens. Dine on fougasse and escargot at the downstairs restaurant, or settle in for a daiquiri in the upstairs lounge., 706-521-5041, 1680 South Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30606

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6. The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club (Nashville, Tennessee)

The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club
Lindsey Grace

Considering the 1920s glamour of this spot (think blue velvet booths, sleek gold detailing, and quilted leather armchairs), you'd never guess that it has a cult following for its vegan pimiento cheese., 2905B Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN 37216

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Check Out The South's Best Bars

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5. Saint-Germain (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Sam Hanna

Serving top-rated wines without the white-tablecloth formality, Saint-Germain channels the breezy spirit of a French bistro in the Bywater neighborhood., 504-218-8729, 3054 Saint Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70117

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4. Black Bear Bar Room (Grayton Beach, Florida)

Black Bear Bar Room
Alissa Aryn Commercial

Pair a natural wine with a tray of farm-raised oysters or house-made sourdough from sister cafe Black Bear Bread Co. next door., 850-213-4528, 26 Logan Lane, Unit H, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

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3. The Jasper (Richmond, Virginia)

The Jasper
Joey Wharton

Named after iconic early 19th-century Richmond bartender Jasper Crouch, this place is serious about cocktails. Try the Caribbean Kween, and snack on the Togarashi Popcorn., 3113 West Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23221

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2. The Living Room at The Dewberry (Charleston, South Carolina)

Matthew Williams

This is not your ordinary hotel bar—and it has James Beard Award-semifinalist status to prove it. From a carefully curated library to luxe sofas imported from Denmark, each detail makes the space feel like home. Signature drinks include the Dark as Night, described as the "nightcap of nightcaps.", 843-558-8000, 334 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29403

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1. Alley Cat Lounge (Savannah, Georgia)

Alley Cat Lounge
Peter Frank Edwards

A newspaper-like menu features over 150 cocktails, along with lots of helpful commentary guiding you from sweet to sour and offering suggestions to suit your taste. You can even choose a drink based on your astrological sign., 207 West Broughton Street, Savannah, GA 31401

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