Nashville's Top 10 Bars, From Classic to Cocktail

On almost every corner in Nashville, there’s a bar filled with hopeful musicians trying to make it in Music City. Yes, in some that means there is someone with a tear in his or her beer (and trying to write about it), but it also means that those aspiring singers are drinking alongside agents, bachelorettes and tourists taking it all in. While the list is vast, there are a few that really stand out as favorites for a consistent atmosphere and a unique draw of regulars as well as visitors.

Whether you like a fine-crafted cocktail, with artisan ice cubes (yes, that's a thing) or just a cold beer and a hot dance floor, these are a few places across town that shouldn't be missed.

There's one Music City Golden Rule that holds true, no matter where you drink: If the hat is passed to collect money for the band playing at the bar, don't skimp as you add your tip. Those are the folks who make the city sound great.

City Winery
Photo courtesy of City Winery


Yes, this restaurant/wine bar/live music venue is a chain, with locations in Chicago, New York and Napa, California. But this chain of restaurants/wine bars/live music venues was founded by Michael Dorf, who created the iconic Knitting Factory...  Read More

Springwater Supperclub & Lounge


The legend is Springwater was founded in 1896, and it claims to be the oldest bar in Tennessee. A former speakeasy near the Parthenon, Springwater is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it building. It may look like it hasn't been updated--or cleaned--since...  Read More

Yazoo Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Betsey Limbaugh


Yazoo Brewing Company has been building a reputation for producing fine beers since 2003. In fact, it got so big, that in 2010 it had to move to a bigger location. Visit the facility and enjoy a free pint after the tour, or lift a glass of more...  Read More

The Bluebird Cafe
Photo courtesy of Bluebird Cafe


Bluebird Cafe is a must-see for all music fans. The quiet, smoke-free venue is a great place to hear Nashville's up-and-coming singer-songwriters perform before they hit the big time (and, sometimes, even after they have). Garth Brooks and Kathy...  Read More

Corsair Artisan Distillery


Founded by childhood friends Darek Bell and Andrew Webber, the business actually had a much less glamorous beginning. The two had already been homebrewing beer and wine when they hit a snag while working on a prototype for a bio-diesel plant....  Read More

The Holland House Bar and Refuge
Photo courtesy of Daniel Howard


This East Nashville haunt has been featured in numerous national publications for talent behind the bar and in the kitchen. Yes, newer bars have opened since, and to the point where some of what was once groundbreaking at Holland House now seems...  Read More



Perhaps the first place in Nashville to charge double-digits for a cocktail, this cocktail bar is the opposite of, well, most bars you've been to. The idea is that is the place to sit down, relax, and appreciate a carefully-crafted cocktail. So,...  Read More

No 308
Photo courtesy of Daniel Howard


The mod decor, with low coffee tables, angular furniture, wood paneling and taxidermy, belies this low-key vibe at this neighbor watering hole. Lounge at one of the back tables if you are with a group of friends. Grab a seat at the bar if you...  Read More



This elegant and historic gathering spot on the lower level always feels cozy no matter what the size of the crowd. It's been a favorite shooting location for movies and the ABC-TV series, Nashville and is equally popular with politicians,...  Read More



This historic honky-tonk (which started as a cowboy boot and hat store) on Lower Broadway is known for being the home of traditional country music. Come for a night of no-cover live country music, most often Western Swing, and make sure you grab...  Read More


Meet Margaret Littman

Journalist Margaret Littman is a both a relative newcomer to Nashville as well as an old-timer, having returned to what once was her college town as an adult. 

She is the author of many...  More About Margaret