Tapas and handcrafted cocktails at Alchemy | Justin Fox Burks

Where to go in Memphis for a Cocktail

It wasn’t that long ago when you ordered a cocktail it was a gin and tonic or a rum and Coke. But just as food has become more inspired, so have cocktails . . . especially in Memphis, where locally owned establishments, from chef-driven fine dining favorites to beloved dives, take care to craft authentic experiences. Whether you want to gather with friends around artisanal bourbon drinks and tapas, or order a cold one with a basket of fries, we’ve got bars, lounges and speakeasies for you.

Grab a Drink in Downtown Memphis

Absinthe Room

166 Beale St., Memphis, TN 38103
Grab your pool cue and sip on a glass of absinthe, all while overlooking world-famous Beale Street at the Absinthe Room. This bar sits atop Beale Street’s King’s Palace Café, creating a classic Memphis experience. With posters lining the walls and games offered throughout the bar—like skee-ball, billiards and darts—the Absinthe Room is playful and fun. 


276 S Front St., Memphis, TN 38103
Taste the magic of mixology at BarWare. The mixologists and chefs here put together seasonal food-and-drink menus that pair excellently. Enjoy small-plate apps and mouthwatering sandwiches while sipping craft concoctions, like You’re My Boy Blue, Walking In Memphis and Chupacabra. Plus, there’s an extensive wine and beer list as well.

Belle Tavern

117 Barboro Alley, Memphis, TN 38103
Stroll down Barboro Alley (between Union and Gayoso) and find yourself at Belle Tavern. Featuring one of the best happy hours in Memphis—known for cocktails like Midnight Kiss and Bee’s Knees—you’ll get why this one’s a downtown favorite.

Blind Bear

119 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
Take in the sights and sounds of downtown Memphis at this speakeasy "hiding" along Main Street. From champagne cocktails to moonshine tea (and everything in between), Blind Bear’s bartenders will have you drinking like it’s 1929. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up the following morning, head to the Hung Over Like a Bear Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. To enter Blind Bear, check the bar’s social media for the secret password. 

Itta Bena | Alex Shansky
Guest enjoying drinks at Mollie Fontaine Lounge | Alex Shansky
Neon sign of Old Dominick Distillery | Craig Thompson
Inside view of Bar DKDC | Raphael Tenschert
Earnestine & Hazels

531 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
Memphis' consummate dive bar is as revered for its soul burger as it is for its stories. Play a song on the (allegedly) haunted juke box, drop in for live jazz or karaoke, head upstairs for a cocktail from Mr. Nate and imagine if these walls could talk. 

Green Beetle

325 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
Since 1939, the Green Beetle has served as a honky tonk, juke joint and watering hole. Today, it's Memphis' oldest tavern, still family-owned and a just-right kind of gathering spot: cozy with a full bar, extensive beer selection and daily food specials.

Itta Bena

145 Beale St., Memphis, TN 38103
B.B. King’s Blues Club commands attention at the high-profile corner of Beale Street and Second Street. But look for the nondescript staircase around back that leads to Itta Bena, an intimate spot tucked away atop the popular club. With upscale twists on Southern classics—like tender shrimp and locally milled grits spiked with white wine—and libations such as the Blues Berry martini, Itta Bena offers you an authentic Memphis fine dining experience.

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Old Dominick Distillery

305 S. Front St., Memphis, TN 38103
Tour this distillery to learn the story of a brand that dates to the 1800s. Then stop by the distillery bar to sample craft concoctions made with house gin, vodkas and whiskeys.

Peabody Hotel Lobby

118 S 2nd St., Memphis, TN 38103
Before modern mixology came into vogue, one of the best places to find a proper cocktail was the classy (usually oak) bar in your city's 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.

Tailor's Union

115 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38103
Within what appears to be an authentic tailor shop sits one of Memphis’ most unique bars, Tailor’s Union. This semi-exclusive speakeasy features three bars—including a cigar room—with signature cocktails, delectable small-plate eats and live jazz bands. Don’t want to leave? Ask about membership options for exclusive events and basement bar access while you’re there!

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Drink with the locals at Midtown Memphis bars


940 Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104
Alchemy’s Memphis-themed cocktail menu and large U-shaped bar fit the vibe of the surrounding Cooper-Young neighborhood: They all have a nice way of bringing people together. 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: Alchemy serves delicious small plates, too. 

Alex's Tavern

1445 Jackson Ave., Memphis, TN 38107
Considering it got its start in 1953, Alex's has bona fide neighborhood-bar credibility. Expect low light, walls covered in the kinds of posters and other relics that only bars collect, jukeboxes . . . plus the requisite drinks and best-kept-secret burgers and gumbo. 

Art Bar at Crosstown Concourse

1350 Concourse Ave #280, Memphis, TN 38104
So you want to see what Crosstown Concourse, Memphis’ vertical urban village, is all about? Stroll and shop on the main level, then wind your way up the red spiral staircase that leads to the second floor. Among the galleries, look for an opening in the walls that reveals Art Bar. Slip inside for a house concoction or something from the exclusive wine list, and pair it with delicious finger foods. The bar displays work from a different artist each month, giving it an ever-changing creative vibe.


964 Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104
DKDC stands for Don’t Know, Don’t Care, but don’t let the irreverent spirit fool you. This jewel in Karen Carrier's empire of food and fun takes great care with the cocktails (and food) it serves.  With an international twist, the cocktail menu focuses on putting the world in a glass. Start with the Jamaica Ting (rum, grapefruit, seltzer, lime zest).

Best East Memphis spots for A DRINK

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

712 W Brookhaven Cir., Memphis, TN 38117
Yes, you'll find several dining and drinking establishments downtown from acclaimed Memphis chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman. But Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in East Memphis was the duo's first concept. Like its celebrated cuisine, Andrew Michael's cocktail program exquisitely modernizes tradition. Sip anything in season, as this cocktail offering evolves.

Neil's Grille and Bar

5725 Quince Rd., Memphis, TN 38119
You've been in bars with that friendly neighborhood thing going. You'll recognize it the moment you walk into Neil's. The live, local music fits the vibe, too. What might surprise you is the real home cooking, so come hungry for anything from pizza and burgers to Southern classics.

SOB East

5040 Sanderlin, Memphis, TN 38117
This downtown Memphis bistro takes its name from its original location "South of Beale," but the drinks, eats and atmosphere are so popular, the concept expanded to East Memphis. With Sunday brunch or daily lunch and dinner service, pair wine, local beer or a creative cocktail like the Bittersweet Symphony, featuring Juke Joint whiskey from local maker Blue Note Bourbon.