Does the recent heat wave have your skin melting, brain frying and mouth turning to cotton? Then this article is for you, because nothing cuts the humidity of summer down South like a cool and delicious cocktail.
With summer well underway and the recent influx of several new bars, July seemed like the perfect month to find the best cocktail spot in town.
For this quest, I selected bars in downtown Chattanooga that have a dedicated cocktail menu and specialize in craft drinks, with an emphasis on some of the newest spots.
While you won’t find every bar in Chattanooga listed below, you’re sure to find one that will quench your thirst.
The Fix Lounge
Sitting at the bar of The Fix, I felt like I was in my best friend’s kitchen. That is, if my best friend happened to be a booze maven with a bevy of Tiki-style glasses and adornments to thrill my cocktail-craving mind.
The Fix is an unassuming little bar sitting atop The Bitter Alibi. The décor is warm and inviting, a nice change of pace from the many overcrowded and under-elegant bars elsewhere. The menu is handwritten, and Ashley, the lead mixologist, is constantly whipping up new drinks and is eager to hear your thoughts on her creations.
During my many visits, the drinks have always been excellent, the prices fair, and the tchotchkes that adorn the cocktails are as charming as anything I’ve seen. Check out this Date Night Dining article for a more in-depth rundown of The Fix’s cocktails.
The Flying Squirrel
The Flying Squirrel has a reputation for being one of Chattanooga’s best food and cocktail spots, winning more awards than you can shake a stick at. One very unique thing about their menu is the list of infusions, such as cucumber gin and strawberry vodka.
Most cocktails are sensibly priced, playful and tasty. On a recent trip, I tried their "No Reason" and "Golden Snitch." Although the smokiness of the Golden Snitch was slightly unpleasant to me, the No Reason was one of the most refreshing drinks I’ve had in a long time. This cucumber, watermelon and lemon-lime fantasy is sure to make you forget the upcoming 100-degree weather.
I’ll admit, I didn’t want to like this bar at first. It was hard to find, there was no parking, and I could see sports-pumping TVs from the outside. But my first impressions were immediately squashed when I opened the door and heard Death Cab for Cutie on the speakers and saw an eclectic group of people.
My server was friendly and raved about the drink selection. I have to agree: Local 191 has a solid list of classics and house cocktails all at reasonable prices, with the average drink costing less than $8.
I ordered the 191 Bourbon, which has Basil Hayden, orange bitters, honey syrup and grapefruit. I find most grapefruit-based cocktails too bitter, but this one was just right. I like when my first impressions are proven wrong, and I see myself coming back here many times, thanks to the comfortable prices and relaxed atmosphere.
Stepping into this small yet elaborate bar, I felt instantly transported to another, hipper time period. Connected to the equally mesmerizing Dwell Hotel, Matilda Midnight is decked with unique seating, intricately decorated walls and a ceiling that mimics starlight. The beautiful atmosphere alone is worth the trip.
Their cocktail list is small but filled with flavor and distinct ingredients. I tried several drinks and found most to be well-balanced and lovely to gaze upon.
My least favorite was the "Temperance," which was too bitter from the grapefruit. My favorite was the titular "Matilda," with a strange but tasty blend of coconut, green tea and almond flavors mixed with their housemade liquor. I have to emphasize you won’t find cocktails or atmosphere like this anywhere else in Chattanooga.
What sets Stir apart from other craft cocktail bars is the ice. Stir boasts purified, artisanal ice that is hand-cut to complement each of their cocktails. Take a look at the menu and you’ll not only find the drink ingredients, but the ice carving tools and types of ice used in each drink.
Visit Embargo 62 for their cocktails with a Cuban twist and rum flights, and view the gorgeous, old-style suitcase bar—an apparent homage to Cuban refugees. The Social, connected to Public House, offers many delicious and affordable cocktails. I recommend the "Public Knowledge" for a refreshing summer drink. There’s Big Chill for when you need endless martini options. And, of course, Easy Bistro & Bar, which sets the gold standard for cocktails. Not only are their drinks reasonably priced and enjoyable, but the staff are complete experts in their fields.
Stir claims their focus on ice results in colder cocktails with the precise desired dilution. While this makes the Ron Swanson in me want to roll my eyes, I must admit it’s incredibly fun to behold an ice sphere or long rock ice rectangle floating in your glass. The cocktail list is extensive and thorough, and includes classic drinks and new creations. The only drawback is the price, with the average drink costing about $13. But their weekly happy hour includes a cocktail special for $7 that cannot be missed.
Each of these bars provides such different vibes and price points, so take that into consideration when planning your next night out. As for me, the loosey-goosey, cozy atmosphere coupled with the palatable drink prices of The Fix made this my favorite spot.
Don’t see your favorite spot listed here? Leave a comment and share it with the world!
Meagan Frey has lived most of her life in Chattanooga but has traveled all over the country sampling regional cuisines. She enjoys cooking, eating, writing and exploring in various combinations. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.