• Jenny

A Local Guide to Memphis: Best Bars, Breweries and Patios

Updated: Sep 22, 2020


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The "Front Yard" at Loflin Yard

In the second installment of my series “Things I’ll Miss about Memphis”, here is a list of the best places in the 901 to get cocktails and craft beers!

Cocktails

First and foremost, if you know me at all or if you’ve browsed my website, you know that I love cocktails. Cocktails that remind me of places I’ve been, places I want to go, and those that are just, well, damn good cocktails. The art of cocktail making is alive and well in Memphis! However, there are three places that have a special place in my heart.


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Belle Tavern Speakeasy

The first of these is Belle Tavern, a speakeasy/cocktail bar smack dab in the middle of downtown. You will find this little gem in Barboro Alley, off of 2nd Street between Union Avenue and Peabody Place. Or you can have dinner at 117 Prime on Union Avenue and sneak through the back entrance by the bathrooms.


No matter how you get here, be prepared for a cocktail experience like no other! Having a drink here is like taking a master class in what a real cocktail should taste like. Order one of your favorite classic cocktails, or try one of the unique inventions created by their very talented mixologists. After having a drink here, all other cocktails will pale in comparison!

My other two favorite cocktail spots are The Cove and The Lucky Cat, both located in the Broad Avenue Arts District. The Cove, or as I like to call it The Pirate Bar, is a fun and funky dive bar that makes you feel like you’re actually on a pirate ship. With a selection of liquors that is like a veritable treasure chest, every cocktail they make here is guaranteed to be top-notch. Looking to taste a particularly difficult to find whiskey or bourbon? Just ask…they probably have it tucked away somewhere behind the bar! And if you’re lucky enough to get one of the few seats at the bar, chat it up with the bartenders. Along with their talent for making sinfully delicious cocktails, one of my favorite things about The Cove is the friendly banter and fun stories. Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture in the pirate cut out boards on your way out!

The Lucky Cat is the newest addition to my list of favorite bars in Memphis. The Lucky Cat is a Ramen restaurant downstairs with a cocktail bar upstairs. I say “bar”, but that doesn’t really do it justice. This super cool lounge with a hipster vibe will make you want to hang out all night! And let’s not forget about why we come here. Their talent for serving up the best classic cocktails around is impressive and refreshing. This place will turn you into a cocktail snob in a heartbeat, and you’ll love it!

Downtown Dive Bars


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Ghost Stories and Soul Burgers!

What's a Best Bars list without a collection of dive bars? A swanky bar with fancy cocktails is nice, but you just can't beat a down and dirty dive bar with a little bit of grit and a whole lot of history. We've got that. Let me introduce Earnestine and Hazel's, a former brothel turned juke joint that just screams Memphis.


Downstairs, pull up a stool and order a beer and Soul Burger. Don't ask what it is, just get it. Then go explore upstairs. More than a few ghost stories are hidden in these walls. For a real treat, wander down to the private piano bar at the end of the hall and get to know the bartender. He is a Memphis legend.



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Try a Bushwacker at the Oldest Tavern in Memphis

Let's round out the list of best dive bars in Memphis. The Green Beetle serves up the best beer in town, along with a little something called a Bushwacker that's like a chocolatey-boozy milkshake for grown-ups. There are ghost stories here as well, don't be alarmed if you get a chill down your spine when you visit the women's bathroom.


A self-proclaimed speakeasy, the Blind Bear is a fun stop on Main Street with tasty cocktails, pool tables, and comfy couches. Looking for a classic beer and shot joint? You've got to go to Bardog Tavern and try one of their breakfast shots. Irish pubs? Got that too. The Brass Door has the best Irish whiskey, beer, and fish n' chips in town.


Beale Street


We can't talk about Memphis bars without mentioning Beale Street. Home of the Blues, Barbecue, and the Beale Street Flippers, if you're looking for a party, this is the place to be.


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Clubs, bars, music joints, and restaurants lining both sides of the street, Beale Street is a King sized party crammed into a three block section of downtown. From B.B. King's Blues Club, to the Rum Boogie Cafe, Silky O'Sullivan's, Alfred's, and countless others, this is the heartbeat of our city.

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Cool outdoor spaces

Nothing beats a bar with an outdoor space, and Memphis has some of the best! What I like the most about these locations is that they are refurbished industrial sites. I absolutely love it when old sites like this find new life in a way that brings people together. If you’re looking for a place to hang out in the fresh air and enjoy some libation with friends and family, or anyone else for that matter, you have got to check these out.

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Loflin Yard Fire Pits