I'll Drink to That: Libations, Temptations and Good Vibrations at Savannah's Many Bars
By Amy Pine
Savannah is home to one of the country’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but you don’t have to travel to the city on March 17 each year to find free-flowing libations and a good time. Savannah’s healthy bar scene is active year-round and offers a little something for everyone. If unique cocktails and hip clientele top your wish list, head to The Sparetime, a popular, new Historic District bar. Bar·food, a Midtown favorite that draws an equally cool crowd, boasts a nice selection of wine, tasty cocktails and excellent French-Asian cuisine. Beer lovers have plenty of great options, including The Distillery, which boasts more than 100 craft brews, and Churchill’s, an authentic British pub with a good selection of imported European beer. If you want to take in Savannah’s skyline while you imbibe, head to Rocks on the Roof, the fabulous bar on the rooftop of the Bohemian Hotel. For a totally different kind of atmosphere, be sure to check out Pinkie Master’s, a local watering hole famous for its political memorabilia, patrons and PBR. If you’re craving an intimate conversation, you’ll appreciate the cozy nooks and soft jazz music at Circa 1875. If you’re hoping to strike up a conversation with a stranger, head on over to the Congress Street Social Club. Still can’t make up your mind or hoping to try multiple bars in one night? The city has an open container law in portions of the Historic District, so ask for your drink to go and hit the pavement.
Churchill's Pub & Restaurant
Fans of British pubs will love Churchill's. Not only are the furnishings and décor the real deal (the hand-carved mahogany bar was crafted in England and shipped to Savannah), but the owners are too--British transplants who have successfully created an authentic pub atmosphere in the Deep South. Like most British pubs, Churchill's is known for its impressive selection of beer, which includes imported draught and bottled beer from Europe and the U.S. Non-beer drinkers will find that Churchill's has a nice assortment of single malt scotches, along with an array of wine and cocktails. Churchill's restaurant serves traditional British pub fare, including favorites such as fish and chips, steak and ale pie, and bangers and mash. Patrons can enjoy their food and libations at the bar, in the restaurant area or on the popular rooftop terrace. (912-232-8501)
Circa 1875 Gastropub
Not everyone wants a loud bar with blaring music and a pickup scene. If your tastes are more refined and you prefer sipping a nice glass of wine while listening to classic jazz, be sure to stop by Circa 1875. The Historic District bar--once the site of an Irish pub--is dark and cozy, with old-fashioned wooden partitions between booths, a beautiful bar and gorgeous tile work. The selection at the bar is equally pleasing, with a nice array of boutique wines by the glass, imported draft beer, handcrafted martinis and standard cocktails. Patrons may order off the menu from Circa's adjoining restaurant, which serves excellent, upscale French cuisine. (912-443-1875)
Molly MacPherson's Scottish Pub & Grill
If you like your waiters in kilts and your scotch top shelf, then head to Molly MacPherson's, the city's only Scottish pub. Enjoying a great location on Congress Street just steps from City Market, Molly's is at once spacious and bustling, with plenty of room to spread out but always drawing a lively crowd. In addition to a superb selection of scotch and authentic Scottish cuisine, Molly's offers wine, beer, cocktails and more traditional bar food for less adventurous eaters. The bar hosts open mic nights on Thursdays and features live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays. Happy hours at Molly's always draw a nice crowd and patrons can expect great drink specials. (912-239-9600)
Located in a cellar underneath the highly regarded Olde Pink House restaurant, Planters Tavern stands alone as a great spot to grab a drink and enjoy live entertainment. The building itself--a late 18th-century Georgian mansion that was built as a residence and later housed Georgia's first bank--is steeped in history, and many of the original features remain, among them exposed brick walls and gorgeous fireplaces. The cozy bar has a nice selection of wine and cocktails, and patrons may order food off the Olde Pinke House's outstanding menu. On any given night, Planters Tavern features a pianist to entertain the crowd, and vocalists often join the bill to sing jazz standards. (912-232-4286, 912-232-5678)
bar · food
You don't have to go Downtown to find an excellent bar with a hip clientele. Bar · food, located in Habersham Village in a burgeoning Midtown neighborhood, has all the elements of an outstanding bar without the hassle of searching for a parking spot (a common problem in the Historic District). From the chic interior to the great selection of beer, wine and cocktails, bar · food has gained a dedicated following of local patrons. The bar features a nice assortment of beer and wine, plus an innovative cocktail menu. Bar · food's French-Asian-style small plates always receive high marks, with standout dishes including the Asian noodles topped with duck breast and bleu chips with melted Brie and blue cheese. ((912) 355-5956)
Congress Street Social Club
Just as its name suggests, Congress Street Social Club has become a popular spot for those who want to meet and mingle. The always-bustling establishment, which is just a block away from City Market, has a large outdoor patio and bar, along with a bar on the ground level and another in the basement. Among Congress Street Social Club's interior accoutrements are pool tables, dartboards and an old-fashioned photo booth, which you may or may not want to take advantage of depending on how much photographic evidence you want of your night on the town. Drinks are reasonably priced, and the food menu is diverse and surprisingly good. (912-238-1985)
Pinkie Master's Lounge
If a dive bar atmosphere is your speed, be sure to check out Pinkie Master's, a Savannah institution famous for its gin cocktails in plastic cups, free-flowing PBR and laid-back atmosphere. Regulars love the neighborhood bar for its reasonably priced drinks, political memorabilia-lined walls and interesting history. A favorite story among patrons is Jimmy Carter's famous visit to Pinkie's in 1978. The story goes that Carter, then governor of Georgia, announced his plan to run for president on top of Pinkie's bar. Today you'll find a steady crowd of friendly locals--everyone from old money Savannah natives to art college students to young professionals--who enjoy good conversation just as much as cheap beer. (912-238-0447)
Beer snobs unite. The Distillery, a popular Historic District bar, features an assortment of more than 100 craft brews and a rotating selection of 21 beers on tap. You won't find cheap favorites such as Bud and Miller Light here: The Distillery's beer menu is instead filled with unique choices like Terrapin Easy Rider, Left Hand Milk Stout and Moon River Apparition Ale, a locally brewed favorite. Non-beer drinkers will be pleased with the bar's excellent selection of wine and unique cocktail specials. The bar, which is housed in a former early 20th-century distilling establishment, makes the most of its historic roots, incorporating a mahogany-topped bar and antique copper still into its décor. Many artifacts around the bar date back to the American Revolution, and the walls are covered with posters and vintage memorabilia. ((912) 236-1772)
Rocks On the Roof
Located on the rooftop of the Bohemian Hotel, Rocks on the Roof features gorgeous views of the waterfront and the Savannah skyline. But lovely outdoor vistas aren't the only reason to visit Rocks. The bar draws a steady crowd of locals and tourists who enjoy socializing, sipping libations and watching the sun set. The most coveted spots in the bar are on the patio, and there's plenty of seating to make the outdoor experience comfortable. On those rare chilly Savannah nights, the fire pit provides warmth for guests who still want to enjoy the view. The bar's spacious interior provides additional seating for those who want to stay indoors. ((912) 721-3901)
Most bars serve specialty drinks, but The Sparetime takes top honors for the most unique cocktails in town. This newcomer, located near City Market in the Historic District, offers alchemic cocktails such as the Corn N' Oil, a mixture of Cruzan Blackstrap rum, Velvet Falernum, lime juice and Angostura, and the Rose-Zarem, featuring house-infused cucumber vodka, rosewater, lemon juice and seltzer. Non-cocktail drinkers will enjoy the bar's selection of old world wines and craft beer. In addition to an impressive selection behind the bar, The Sparetime also offers an excellent menu with items such as seared duck, oysters and smoked pork belly. The bar, which features floor-to-ceiling windows and a chic interior, has quickly become the go-to spot for local hipsters and Savannah's creative minions. (912-232-7094)
About Amy Pine
Amy's thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of Savannah with the world. A Savannah native, Amy has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor, and her work has appeared in numerous local, regional and national publications. Prior to launching a freelance career, she was executive editor at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she served as editor of the college’s alumni magazine. Amy received a B.A. in English and communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her young adult novel, The Girl in a Picture Frame.
Read more about Amy Pine here.