50 Best Southern Bars

Darren Braun
February/March 2012

Old or new, grungy or grand, the South’s choicest places to order up a round and unwind

Bloody Mary 

The Rivershack Tavern in Jefferson, Louisiana
The Rivershack, on the banks of the Mississippi, elevates the classic morning-after cocktail to an art with its River Bottom Bloody Mary. Sure, you’ve got your A1, Worcestershire, and horseradish, but then comes a sprinkle of Tony Chachere’s, a blessed hit of bacon, and house-made pepper-infused vodka for just the right amount 
of head-clearing heat. 

Booze with a View

Pollak Vineyards in Greenwood, Virginia
Set at the base of Afton Mountain in the Blue Ridge, this rustic wood-and-tile wine bar lets you sit out at long tables on the lovely lawn or the ample wraparound porch, overlooking the vines and orchards of the ninety-eight-acre property. Spring, summer, or fall, the overall effect is peaceful and gorgeous. pollakvineyards.com

T’cholit Bar in St. Lucia
Try to describe the glorious Neverland tableau set before you from Ladera resort’s open-air, 1,100-foot-high perch—a sweep of lush rain-forest valley and sparkling Caribbean, bookended by the volcanic peaks known as the Pitons—and words sputter and stall. Best just to settle into a rattan armchair, nurse a neon rum concoction, and look away just long enough to exchange a knowing glance with your companion, congratulating yourselves for being there. ladera.com


Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, Texas
The bar’s name and modern industrial decor convey the owners’ workmanlike resolve to do one thing—produce the region’s best cocktails, a feat accomplished with startling frequency since it opened in 2009. The barkeeps’ pantry includes quintessentially Southern ingredients that rarely mix with liquor in less visionary watering holes. Recent drinks have featured okra seeds, cane vinegar, and sweet potatoes. anvilhouston.com

Fox Liquor Bar in Raleigh, North Carolina
This underground cocktail club is the late-night soul of Ashley Christensen’s new triple-
restaurant project, housed in the shell of a former downtown Piggly Wiggly. To craft the ambitious menu of specialty drinks, the Poole’s Diner chef-owner imported New York mix master Karin Stanley, whose evolving plans include cocktail kegs for soda fountain–style tipples on tap. ac-restaurants.com/fox

The Gin Joint in Charleston, South Carolina
The Gin Joint sits tucked among a number of tourist draws on Charleston’s East Bay Street, but locals know it as the place to go for an old-fashioned or a Sazerac with no shortage of style and plenty of kick. The pre-Prohibition menu means no vodka behind the bar, but you’ll never miss it. theginjoint.com

H. Harper Station in Atlanta, Georgia
Owner and drinks guru Jerry Slater comes up with a slew of original cocktails, as the times demand. But his mastery of the classics is what really stands out. “My old-fashioned is very old-fashioned,” he says, without any orange or cherry to muddle the character of the original recipe. Lately, he has been turning all of Atlanta on to the old-school charms of the Singapore Sling, which is something like a Sonic cherry limeade for grown-ups. hharperstation.com