Where to Find the Best Drinks in Memphis
When I grew up in Memphis decades ago, there wasn’t much to do for nightlife or fun. There was the mall, the sports bars, the few restaurants that had decent house-wine lists.
Now, it’s the opposite. The few times a year I return home, I find new craft breweries, creative bars with fun concepts, even new spirit distilleries.
While the national spotlight has been focused on other Southern cities like Nashville and Charleston, Memphis has slowly become an ideal destination for booze lovers of all types. The venues are stunning, the people are friendly and the drink offerings are fresh and creative. And none of them will bust your wallet.
Here is a guide to drinking in Memphis.
This lively brewery is located in a newly revitalized part of town named the Edge District. Ten beers are served in the taproom, and bartenders are super knowledgeable about the history and flavors of each (don’t miss the chocolate rye porter). There are also local boutiques under the same roof for fun, tipsy shopping and food trucks parked outside.
Probably the most well-known brewery in Memphis, this taproom serves staples like the Ghost River Gold, as well as small trial batches available for only a short time. In addition to an abundance of affordable beer, the venue has weekly trivia, local vendors, brunch and live music. It’s also a great place to take in a sports game. Go Grizzlies!
This brewery is known for making interesting, flavorful beer. Gotta Get Up to Get Down is a coffee stout made from Ethiopian beans. Neon Brown has a literal light spark that goes through the liquid. The taproom is located on the uber-cool Broad Avenue with quirky shops and restaurants surrounding it. There is even a water tower high above the bar that changes colors throughout the night.
In May, Old Dominick opened, giving Memphis its first modern vodka and whiskey distillery. Thursday through Sunday, you can tour the facility and have a drink in the chic indoor bar or on spacious rooftop overlooking the Mississippi River. It’s a great place to watch the sun set. Don’t miss the Memphis Toddy, a cocktail revived from a 150-year-old recipe belonging to the owners’ great-great-great-grandfather.
This gigantic outdoor/indoor venue is a true adult playground. You can play ping-pong, buy a tropical drink from a tiki bar, sit around a fire pit with a glass of wine or pint of craft beer, all while watching your kids play in a nearby sand pit. Don’t miss the hard-to-find absinthe bar on the second floor, where bartenders are making cocktails using antique absinthe fountains. There’s also a working jukebox.
This spacious outdoor beer garden, blocks from the famous Beale Street, is located on a former horse farm. There are lounge chairs, fairy lights, cornhole, ping-pong tables, horseshoe, even a movie screening room. The bar is known for its barreled cocktails and seasonal offerings. The spiced mulled wine in the winter is a special treat.
When in Memphis, you can’t miss a trip to see Graceland, the beloved home of Elvis Presley. After the tour, pop into the adjacent hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, and have a themed cocktail at the bar. The Jailhouse Rocks is a house favorite. Performers are often on the piano singing modern renditions of Presley classics. On a nice, summer day, take your drink outside to the heart-shaped bonfire pit. It’s cheesy, but it's an experience that’s essential.
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