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.
Local Expert tip: Wash down your drink with a serving of Churchill's bread pudding.
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.
Local Expert tip: If you're dying to try Circa's food but don't want to break the bank, order the 1875 Hamburger Au Poivre.
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.
Local Expert tip: If sipping your scotch has made you hungry, try the Scotch Eggs, two deep fried hardboiled eggs encased in sausage.
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.
Local Expert tip: Try to sneak a peek at the tavern's wine cellar, located in a converted bank vault.
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.
Local Expert tip: Check bar · food's Facebook page for $1 drink specials.
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.
Local Expert tip: Congress Street Social Club often hosts live bands. Check out the bar's website or Facebook page for a schedule of upcoming performances.
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.
Local Expert tip: Set the mood by playing a few songs on Pinkie's jukebox.
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.
Local Expert tip: Take advantage of your server's knowledge of beer. Ask about pairings and serving size before ordering your ale.
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.
Local Expert tip: Rocks on the Roof often features live music. Check the bar's Twitter page for upcoming performances.
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.
Local Expert tip: Your cocktail will taste even better if you pair it with The Sparetime's grilled cheese with fontina, pecorino, chèvre, greens and house-made pickles.