Which Atlanta bars are best for a classic cocktail?

Elder classics like the brandy crusta can be traced to the 1862 “Bartenders Guide” by Jerry Thomas while others span the post-Prohibition decades and include modern classics like the scotch-based Penicillin created in 2005 by Sam Ross. Here are six timeless drinks and our picks on where to enjoy them.

Old Fashioned

Considered the original cocktail with roots dating to 1806, the old fashioned is a simple, stirred concoction of whiskey, sugar, bitters and water. The simplicity of the classic is mastered at the Pinewood (254 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-373-5507, pinewoodtr.com). It also happens to be on draft. When the Toasted Old Fashioned hit the menu at Gunshow and then at Revival (129 Church St., Decatur. 470-225-6770, revivaldecatur.com), chef Kevin Gillespie’s favorite cocktail of bourbon, burnt sugar and brûléed cinnamon was an instant hit with guests. The “Goonies”-inspired Chester Copperpot at Ration and Dram (130 Arizona Ave. NE, Atlanta. 678-974-8380, rationanddram.com) is a permanent fixture on the menu made with Plantation Pineapple rum and creme de noyaux (almond liqueur).


This three-ingredient, stirred cocktail of rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters is thought to have been created at the Manhattan Club in New York City around 1880. The Mercury (Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-500-5253, themercuryatl.com) offers a classic Manhattan as one of its “tableside for four” cocktails served in a pitcher. Bring three of your friends and drink your way through the pitcher. At Wrecking Bar (292 Moreland Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-221-2600, wreckingbarbrewpub.com), long-standing favorite the barrel-aged Manhattan is rested for six weeks in a small, 5-gallon barrel.


The origins of the martini date to the 1880s when Italian vermouth was becoming popular in cocktails and Old Tom gin was the spirit of choice for the classic. The martini is enjoying renewed popularity. Kimball House (303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502, kimball-house.com) makes a mean made-to-order martini, but try their beautifully balanced 50/50 aptly named Kimball House with gin, Cocchi Americano, French vermouth and orange bitters. The cocktail comes with proper garnish service: a choice of two olives or a lemon twist. 8Arm (710 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-875-5856, 8armatl.com) reintroduced Atlanta to the glory of the Gibson, a super subtle dirty martini of two parts gin and one part vermouth with a house-made pickled onion.


The equal parts cocktail of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth was likely created in Florence, Italy, by Count Camillo Negroni in 1919. Newly opened in Westside’s Stockyards, Donetto (976 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. 404-445-6867, donettoatlanta.com), like its sister Colletta at Alpharetta’s Avalon, offers a beautiful barrel-rested Negroni on draft. The mezcal Negroni at Muss & Turner’s backroom speakeasy Eleanor’s (1675 Cumberland Parkway SE, Smyrna. 770-434-1114, mussandturners.com/smyrna/eleanors) is smoky with a bittersweet mixture of the herbaceous St. George Bruto Americano amaro and sweet vermouth. An excellent Negroni for whiskey and scotch drinkers.


Thought to have been created sometime around the end of World War I, the sidecar is a simple sour cocktail of cognac or brandy, orange liqueur like triple sec and fresh lemon juice. It resembles the much older brandy crusta, which, in addition to the above ingredients, also contains simple syrup, maraschino and angostura bitters. Marcel (1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-665-4555, marcelatl.com) offers a lovely version that straddles the line between the classic sidecar and the ancient brandy crusta made with calvados (French apple brandy), combier, lemon juice and lemon bitters and garnished with a sugar rim.


The earliest known reference to this elegant French cocktail was in 1930 in “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” A possible variation on the sidecar, the Champs-Elysees was originally listed as a six-person drink to be served tableside. Its popularity has waxed and waned over the years, but Bread & Butterfly (290 Elizabeth St. NE, Atlanta. 678-515-4536, bread-and-butterfly.com) is giving the cocktail of cognac, green chartreuse, lemon, sugar and bitters new life.

Check out what the AJC Fall Dining Guide 2017 has to offer:

•What do you think of these restaurants? 10 reader-requested reviews for Atlanta and beyond 

•How can I meet people who love to eat? Atlanta dinner clubs combine chatter with chow 

•What’s your favorite metro Atlanta restaurant? AJC food editor Ligaya Figueras answers 

•What are the hottest cocktail trends in Atlanta? 

•Which Atlanta bars are best for a classic cocktail? 

•Which new bars in Atlanta will most tempt you? 

•How are Atlanta breweries changing for the better? 

•What’s the deal with...all the metro Atlanta food halls? 

•What’s the deal with...all the metro Atlanta rolled ice cream?

•What’s the deal with...the metro Atlanta steakhouse boom? 

•What’s the deal with...all the poké in metro Atlanta? 

•Video: Burning questions with Bob Bost

•Video: Burning questions with Tiffanie Barriere

•Video: Burning questions with Bryan Furman

•360 Video tour of Bacchanalia

•360 Video tour of Kimball House

•360 Video tour of Gunshow

•360 Video tour of Spring

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Food

The popcorn apocalypse
The popcorn apocalypse

Fashion Week finally came to life Tuesday evening in the shadow of the valley of — well, not death exactly. More like a post-apocalyptic prairie seen through a B-movie lens. Toto, what happened to Kansas? Raf Simons buried it under 50,000 gallons of popcorn. Or, to be fair, he buried the floor of the American Stock Exchange building under 50...
‘Healthy-ish’ food stall Recess to open at Krog Street Market next week
‘Healthy-ish’ food stall Recess to open at Krog Street Market next week

Grain bowls will be on the menu at Recess. / Photo by Sydney Cumminsky A new Krog Street Market food stall is hoping to help diners indulge in “healthy-ish” without the guilt. Recess — from Castellucci Hospitality Group, which also operates The Iberian Pig, Cooks & Soldiers...
First Look: Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken & Oysters opens in East Lake
First Look: Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken & Oysters opens in East Lake

Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken and Oysters whole house fried chicken and raw oysters. Photo credit- Mia Yakel. Chef Robert Phalen’s Inman Park restaurant, One Eared Stag, has been a critic’s favorite since it opened in 2011. Lauded for his use of organic and sustainable ingredients, and way with inventive...
Some free apps to help you pay for that latte
Some free apps to help you pay for that latte

Let’s say you want to earn some extra pocket cash, but you’re short on free time (and energy). Your phone might be a good place to start. There are quite a few apps designed to help you earn some extra dough, either in the form of gift cards or standard cold, hard cash.   There is a trade-off, however. Nearly any kind of reward...
Lessons From the 2018 Winemaker Challenge
Lessons From the 2018 Winemaker Challenge

While pricey Napa Valley wines dominated the top awards at the 2018 Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition in San Diego at the end of January, other trends emerged, as they always do. The Winemaker Challenge involves blind tastings, as all credible wine competitions do. Judges evaluate each wine without such vital information as producer...
More Stories