Nashville, TN: Not Just a Country Capital, but a Creative Cocktail Scene

by jenjenk on October 10, 2011

***I’m off in Turkey delving into the food and culture gathering information to share with you!! In the meantime, Erin from A Sense of Place is stepping in to pick up the slack! Erin currently hails from Nashville, TN having a blast with her husband discovering the music, art, and food scene! I was fortunate enough to meet her at the TBEX Conference in Vancouver and we’ve been chatting ever since! ***

The Base Burner, Holland House Bar & Refuge

When you think of Nashville, some of the best cocktail bars in the South may not be your first thought. We have plenty of dive bars and honky tonks to last a lifetime if that’s your thing. If a more sophisticated take on drinking is more your tastes, we have three spots that deliver: Holland House Bar and Refuge, The Patterson House, and Bar No. 308.

HHB&R and Bar No. 308 are both in East Nashville where the feel is more artsy and independent. Bar No. 308 is tucked into a strip of spots near Five Points, and their draw is house-made syrups and sodas as mixers for their drinks. Want a gin and ginger ale? They’ll make the ginger ale on the spot for your drink. During happy hour, these 1 spirit 1 mixer drinks are 2 for 1. I sampled the gin and tonic, the gin and ginger, and the whiskey and ginger from the simpler drinks. You can really taste the difference in a made to order mixer. They have sliders and a few other snacks to nibble on, but I like how the sliders taste like homemade burgers from my childhood.

Cheese Plate from Holland House Bar & Refuge

HHB&R is up the road a bit and part of a mixed use neighborhood and business district. Once you step inside, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The building used to be a general store, and they completely renovated the interior to give it a glam general store feeling. Their cocktails feature regional spirits, house-made syrups, and special touches. The menu rotates with the seasons, but if you fell in love with a summer cocktail, they’ll do their best to replicate it in the winter if you ask. I’ve worked my way through several of the gin-based cocktails, but if you want to start with something simple yet spectacular, go with the Base Burner. This drink features Four Roses Bourbon over ginger ice cubes (so delicious that Bar No. 308 gets a few delivered). The bourbon is sweet and smooth, and the ginger syrup cubes keep it from getting watered down while adding a kick of sweet heat. They have a bar, dinner, late night, and brunch menu with local, seasonal ingredients featured. Also, they are in the process of opening a burger spot in East Nashville that I can’t wait to try.

Bacon Old Fashioned, Patterson House

Cross the Cumberland River and head over near Vanderbilt University to find The Patterson House. Keep an eye out for a blue Victorian home on the corner, because the signage is too small to see from the road. If you thought HHB&R had a rustic glam feel, The Patterson House is it’s rich, older cousin. Tin ceilings and dim lighting make the atmosphere rich and mysterious. Here’s the spot to take your love of bacon to the next level: the Bacon Old Fashioned. They infuse Four Roses Bourbon with Benton’s bacon (a local, very smoky bacon) so that you get the smokiness permeating through the bourbon. The infusion is created by frying a bunch of bacon, keeping the bacon grease, and adding the fat to bourbon. The remove the fat by freezing the concoction since fat freezes at a different temperature than booze. They pour it over an ice ball to keep it from getting watered down, and add maple syrup, house-made pecan bitters, and an orange garnish to complete the drink. I suggest ordering this if you want to sip and savor a drink. As you drink it, the in-you-face bacon flavor subsides leaving you with a sweet, smoky bourbon. The Patterson House is in the process of opening a restaurant on their second floor with a counter seating area surrounding a central kitchen.

So if you ever find yourself in Nashville, leave the neon lights of Broadway for an innovative cocktail with local ingredients at one of these three spots. It will be worth it!

935 W. Eastland Ave
Nashville, TN
1711 Division Street
Nashville, TN
Bar No. 308
407 Gallatin Avenue
Nashville, TN
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

inka October 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Very interesting, however, I look so forward to hearing about your impressions of Turkey. Safe travel in Cappadocia. Are you going up in a balloon?


jenjenk October 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm

We tried to go up today but the rains/winds cut our flight short.

I love, love, love turkey!!!!!!! I’m hoping that I can come back at least a few more times!!!! :).


Technosyncratic Travel October 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Is it just me, or does it look like there’s a mini brain in that last drink?! 😉


jenjenk October 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I totally thought so!!!!


Jeremy Branham October 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I’ve been to Nashville once but never had much time to explore. I was a bit disappointed in the city as it wasn’t as attractive of a city in terms of the country music scene as I thought. I guess I was expecting more. Should have had a cocktail instead! :)


jade October 20, 2011 at 2:53 am

Yay- love nashville posts! We really need to explore the bar and wine scene more- I know it exist we are just usually hanging out with Bob’s family when we are in Nashville! Great post, Erin!


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