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The Best Bars in Nashville

Find the best watering holes for beer, whiskey, creative craft cocktails and more around Music City.

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Photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Bastion

String lights and funky furniture fill an industrial former warehouse to make up the “big bar” at Bastion — it fits with the vibe of the surrounding Wedgewood-Houston district. Inside the bare bones, unpretentious space, they’re pouring punch of the day and craft beers, and there’s a countertop toaster oven where the bartenders heat up platters of loaded-up nachos. Grab a drink and take your perch on wooden benches along one wall. Or, head to the other side of the bar to seek out the tucked-away restaurant helmed by Josh Habiger, whose intriguing, multi-course menu is prepared by a small team of cooks from behind a bar-like counter.

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Pinewood Social

Whether you’re looking for a boozy brunch, a working happy hour, or a late-night hang, Pinewood Social delivers. The all-day space — complete with a bowling alley, outdoor pool and airstream trailer bar, and karaoke room — does open up early for breakfast, but by midday, the bar is buzzing with folks seeking out a range of seasonal cocktails and local beers, or chilling out back with frozen drinks. Come evening, the large format cocktails arrive. Serving 6 to 12 people, drinks get a base, like the Macho Matcha Man with grapefruit, elderflower, matcha, and lime, and a choice of booze to go with it. There’s a list of spirit-free beverages, too, including an addictive ginger beer, lime and tonic concoction.

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Photo: Matt Spicher

Pearl Diver

Pearl Diver is the creation of four vets of the bar and restaurant industry who turned a former car repair shop into an island-themed escape. The motif features mermaids, palm fronds and nautical details, plus nods to Ernest Hemingway — and the menu of cocktails and small bites aims to match. Go for a sturdy Mai Tai or a deceptively delicate-looking Hotel Nacional while grazing on dumplings, tacos or a PuPu platter complete with a flaming center. You can also take the party out to the patio, where live greenery and the pink-and-green accents make it feel like a rustic Caribbean bar in the heart of East Nashville.

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Photo: Danielle Atkins

Downtown Sporting Club

You can find live music and cheap beers all along Broadway. But the only spot on the strip where you’ll find axe throwing is inside Downtown Sporting Club, the latest concept from Strategic Hospitality (Pinewood Social, Bastion and more). That’s not all: The four-story fun house also boasts a Crema coffee bar, a seated, diner-like restaurant, a second-story bar with views of Broadway, a rooftop bar, and a 20-room boutique hotel. You’ll discover playful touches throughout, like a photo booth, shuffle board court and killer frozen cocktails like the Whiskey & Ginger. As for the axes, book one of 12 throwing lanes for one stress-relieving hour — it comes complete with a throwing coach.

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