When I changed day jobs almost six years ago, I started traveling to Chattanooga, TN a couple times a year. As I became friends with a couple of my co-workers there, I started going for fun as well. During the pandemic, I drove out twice and flew there for the first time in September 2021. As with any good trip, I have found myself visiting many bars in Chattanooga for after-work drinks or dinner. I have seen good bars open and close and still others get better over time. The city is a bit spread out and some of the best spots might be hard to randomly find on your own. So, here are my favorite picks for the best restaurants and bars in Chattanooga to grab great drinks.
- Address: 806 Broad Street
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 5pm-1am | Friday-Saturday, 5pm-2am
- Hospitality: 5.0, friendly and welcoming staff
- Atmosphere: 4.9, super chill but chic space (no sign though, so keep your eyes peeled)
- Drinks: 4.9, great menu of modified classics
When I arrived in Chattanooga, my friends picked me up and we were taking a walk downtown. So much has changed in the past two years. As we rounded a corner onto Broad Street, we saw the glowing neon bar lights and had to go in. No Hard Feelings had opened just five weeks before our visit. It’s a great space and it seemed like everyone walking by was as drawn in as we were. I think this spot will do really well among the other bars in Chattanooga. It has enough variety and uniqueness within the menu and the vibe that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the city.
The cocktail on the left is the Coco Royale. Made with gin, coconut creme, violet, and sparkling wine. It is a tropical and tangy treat. The other drink is the Cream Soda Old Fashioned. It features a cream soda reduction alongside Old Forester 100, and Angostura bitters. A really nice flavor combination. And yes, that’s a cat in the clear ice.
2. Whiskey Thief at The Edwin Hotel
- Address: 102 Walnut Street
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 5pm-10pm | Friday-Saturday, 5pm-11pm
- Hospitality: 4.8, helpful and friendly staff in a busy bar
- Atmosphere: 5.0, not sure it gets better than being able to watch the sunset from a comfortable seat
- Drinks: 4.8, solid classic cocktails with some variations
Located just a stone’s throw from the Tennessee River, you’ll find the Edwin Hotel. Up on the top floor of the hotel sits the Whiskey Thief which overlooks the North Shore of Chattanooga. It’s the perfect place for a drink but they also serve delicious Southern-inspired small plates. Dishes like pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes grace the menu. As the name of the bar implies, you’ll also find an impressive whiskey list, along with cocktails featuring local spirits and more.
The rooftop bar overlooks the historic Walnut Street Bridge, so I raised a glass in toast as the sun set. A glass full of a Last Word riff called “Mezcal’s Hot Right Now”. Like a Last Word, it has green chartreuse, lime, and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur but they used mezcal in place of the the gin. A delicious swap if you ask me. The drink on the right is Shade of a Georgia Pine. It’s a mixture of Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, peach jam, Zirbenz, and lemon. The drink was as delicious as it is pretty.
- Address: 422 East Martin Luther King Boulevard
- Hours: Wednesday, 5pm-10pm | Thursday-Saturday, 5pm-midnight | Sunday, 11am-3pm
- Hospitality: 5.0, super kind and friendly staff that take time to chat with every table
- Atmosphere: 4.8, the space is super cute with outdoor, patio dining
- Drinks: 4.9, delicious drinks with some unexpected and fresh ingredients
Proof is a cocktail bar featuring multiple test kitchens with different executive chefs. The Incubator concept allows chefs to try out their concepts before opening in their own permanent location. The cocktail bar is the constant feature, although there is a good amount of stability for the restaurant concepts. I went twice in the last year and the same restaurants were still there. The food is seriously good, so I was happy about this. Brunch on Sunday is not to be missed with live music on the patio.
Falling Fire is made with Mi Campo tequila, Verde Momento mezcal, yellow chartreuse, Dolin dry vermouth, lemon, Fuji apple + togarashi shrub, Tajin, and seaweed. It was a delicious global journey in one glass. The drink menu changes frequently with the seasons, but hopefully this one will be back on soon. If you visit for brunch, definitely order some grapefruit mimosas or the Proof Cold Brew with a shot of whiskey. Mine may have disappeared before photos were taken.
4. The Rosecomb
- Address: 921 Barton Avenue
- Hours: Monday-Thursday, 4pm-midnight | Friday-Saturday, 4pm-1am
- Hospitality: 4.8, friendly staff
- Atmosphere: 5.0, gorgeous space with amazing decor
- Drinks: 4.7, delicious drinks that were light and refreshing
Rosecomb is a neighborhood pub built inside of a 1920’s cottage in the historic Riverview neighborhood of Chattanooga. It opened this summer. The restaurant specializes in updated versions of classic Southern dishes and delicious cocktails. We enjoyed fried peanuts and some delicious deviled eggs. You can sit inside or out (the patio is quite lovely). Perhaps my favorite thing about it was the decor. Everywhere you looked there was something new and whimsical to look at. I will definitely be back!
We sat outside on the patio but I popped back inside a couple of times for more photos. You can see more here. I enjoyed a couple of bright and sunny summer-inspired drinks. The one on the right is the Stanton 75. It is made with Post Modern gin, cappelletti, lemon, raspberry, and bubbles. I also enjoyed the Rabbit Rush which is made with Campo Bravo reposado, Verde Momento mezcal, lemon, ginger, and honey. I’m not sure where the rabbits fit in but it was delicious!
- Address: 1409 Market Street
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 5pm-11pm | Friday-Saturday, 5pm-midnight
- Hospitality: 4.8, the bartender was friendly and popped back to check on our table at just the right times
- Atmosphere: 4.8, a comfortable hotel bar vibe
- Drinks: 4.8, well-made, quality classic cocktails
Entering a bar through a bookcase never gets old to me. Sure, it’s a little gimmicky, but I like it! Once you’ve passed through a bright lobby and a bookcase (see above), you’ll find yourself in the moody, sultry space that is Company. One of the most prominent features is the shiny, copper bar top, which matches the copper-bound menus. The drinks are primarily classics but they have a great selection and can make you pretty much anything you might like to sip on.
I visited during Bee’s Knees Week, so I had to order one. Bee’s Knees Week is centered around raising awareness of preserving and planting bee habitats. It’s such a great cocktail and this one was exactly what I wanted. Made with St. George Terroir gin, triple honey syrup, and lemon, the Bee’s Knees was perfectly balanced. After that I was in the mood for something a bit smokier (yes, I know how my mezcal obsession is evident in this post) and the bartender suggested a Naked and Famous. A perfect blend of mezcal, Aperol, yellow chartreuse, and lime juice. Yum!
Other Recommended Bars in Chattanooga
- Flying Squirrel (55 Johnson Street) – delicious drinks and incredible food, this place is super popular for groups and brunch. Make a reservation and get ready to have a hard time not ordering everything from the menu.
- Easy Bistro & Bar (801 Chestnut Street) – I enjoyed several visits to Easy Bistro (in its original location, near the aquarium) before I tried their cocktails. Once I did, I realized that I had been missing out! Now, it’s moved to the West Village but still serves up delicious meals and drinks.
- Night Pearl inside The Dwell Hotel (120 East 10th Street) – now under new management, the Night Pearl now occupies the space that was once Matilda Midnight. The concept is now a tiki bar, the only one in Chattanooga in fact. It’s a beautifully decorated space and is a great spot for drinks.
If you’re looking to explore local spirits after visiting these bars in Chattanooga, I would highly recommend a tour of Chattanooga Whiskey.