Where to go in Memphis for a Cocktail

Tapas and cocktails at Alchemy in Memphis, TN

Alchemy in the Cooper-Young neighborhood has tapas and artisan cocktails. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

It wasn’t that long ago that when someone ordered a cocktail it was usually a gin and tonic or a rum and coke. But just food has become more interesting and sophisticated so have cocktails. Memphis is no different. In fact, I’d say we’re starting to excel at the mixology thing. So depending on your mood or your taste, you can belly up in Memphis with an artisanal pre-pro bourbon drink and a tapas small plate or keep it simple and order a can and a basket of fries. It doesn’t matter. We’ve got a bar and a drink for everyone. 

 

Here’s a look at a few of our best.

 

Alchemy

A good cocktail bar has a way of bringing a neighborhood together. Not that it was all that necessary in Cooper-Young, but Alchemy’s unique Memphis-themed cocktail menu, as well as its large U-shaped bar, gives people of all backgrounds enough space and more than a few reasons to belly up and rub elbows. Signature drinks include The Hound Dog (bourbon, fresh peach, lemon, ginger, mint) and the Boss Crump, a Bluff City-twist on the Manhattan. Pro tip: They have great small plates, too.

 

 

Hog & Hominy

Hog & Hominy broke through nationally in 2013 when it was included among GQ’s 12 most outstanding restaurants. This was a real coup for the whole Memphis food scene. But what’s important to know is that the restaurant’s cocktails are as superb as its food. Sticking to, and perfecting, the classics, Hog & Hominy is a great place to cozy up with a great Old Fashioned, a Sidecar, or even the terribly misunderstood Daiquiri.

 

 

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

Long-time Memphis chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman staked out their own territory a few years ago with Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, a modern look at a traditional Italian menu. They took the same approach with the drink menu, mixing classics with new ideas and pairing them with simple but elegant charcuterie plates or finecheese boards. Be sure to order the Champs-Elysees – cognac, chartreuse, lemon, rich syrup and angostura bitters.

 

Mollie Fontaine Lounge

Few cocktail bars in Memphis have as unique an effect on patrons as Mollie Fontaine. The second you step inside the Victorian-era house that houses the Mollie Fontaine Lounge you feel like you’re entering a different world. The atmosphere is part Deadwood, part Steampunk, and part Memphis-weird as the décor includes, among others things, funky furniture, antique lighting, multiple chandeliers, and a piano that may or may not be properly tuned. The cocktails are good. The atmosphere is great. And because the folks who run the Beauty Shop own it, the small plates are a nice touch.

 

 

Bar DKDC

DKDC stands for Don’t Know, Don’t Care, but don’t let the irreverent spirit fool you, the latest in the Karen Carrier food&fun empire takes great care in the cocktails (and food) it serves.  With an international twist, the cocktail menu focuses on putting the world in a glass. Options include the Jamaica Ting (rum, grapefruit, seltzer, lime zest), GHet On The Good Foot (Gin, St. Germaine, lime zest, tonic and lime juice), and the perfectly simple Death In The Afternoon – pastis and champagne.

 

 

P&H Café

Google map the P&H and the summary description reads as follows: mellow beer bar and local hangout. Couldn’t be more accurate, really, when you consider that the P stands for poor and the H stands for hungry. Put another way the food and drink are cheap and the people who frequent this joint are down to earth locals. The beer menu is refreshingly simple (just order a PBR for $2.75), the food focuses on tasty burgers and melts, and the people tend to take their open mic’s and karaoke nights pretty seriously.

 

 

Peabody Hotel Lobby

Before mixology and handlebar moustaches came into vogue, one of the best places to find a properly made old fashion or Manhattan was the classy, and often oak, bar in your local upscale old-school hotel. For Memphis, that was, and will always be, the Peabody Hotel Lobby bar. Expertly located next to the famous Peabody Ducks fountain (hint: let the kids watch the parade while you post up), the Lobby bar is the grand dame of Memphis cocktail bars. Here you’ll find all the classics, as well as an excellent wine menu.

 

And since time flies when you're having fun, make sure to also check out our Memphis Guide to Late Night Dining.