Best of Atlanta 2021: Drink

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JoJo's Beloved Cocktail Lounge
JoJo’s Beloved Cocktail Lounge

Photograph by Ben Rollins

Retro Cocktail Lounge: JoJo’s Beloved Cocktail Lounge

If you can find the entrance—tucked into a corner down a hall inside the new Colony Square food hall Politan Row—duck inside this dimly lit cocktail den for stiff drinks and a heavy dose of ’70s glam: a burgundy color scheme punctuated by brassy accents and garish neon lights, a record player spinning Donna Summers, and, inevitably/crucially, lots of carpet.

Modern Teahouse: The Ginger Room

Pure providence landed Angela Avery and Karl Walbrook in the impeccably preserved Skelton-Teasley House in downtown Alpharetta, where they blend more than 45 tea offerings and High Tea tradition with a light menu of juices (including the ginger juice that gave this business its start) and sandwiches. Start with a tower of truffles and housemade tarts, order the orange-inflected Fortnum & Mason loose leaf—add sweetener, hold the cream—and ask for the Ginger Room’s serendipitous origin story (aka the tea) that goes along with it.

New OTP Coffee Shop: Tuesday Coffee + Shoppe

One sign that Marietta Square is truly thriving: yet another addition to its already robust coffee scene. At this sweet storefront space, co-owners Andrew and Morgan Beatton use Bellwood Coffee beans in expertly crafted espresso drinks and serve bread and pastries from local bakers.

New Spot for Beer and Pizza: Inner Voice Brewing + Glide Pizza

Beer is great and so is pizza, so together—well, you can do the math. Inner Voice is a new downtown Decatur brewery with a deeply soothing, soft-green color palette, a sunny patio, and creative beers like the Passion Fruit Jammie (a sour ale) and the Ego Trip (an imperial stout with vanilla, coconut, and almonds). Plus, a built-in pizza counter, with pies prepared by the folks behind the popular O4W pizzeria Glide.

New Neighborhood Hang: Elsewhere Brewing

Along with Inner Voice, this newish Grant Park hang exemplifies a long-overdue development: brewery spaces that are cheery and welcoming rather than cold and industrial. Come for the vibes, stay for the Belgian ales and Czech and German lagers, and fill up on easy-to-love snacks like beer and bacon bratwurst, crispy Brussels sprouts, and vegan sweet potato empanadas.

Coffee Shop Where You Can Also Pick Up a New Chopper: Pop’s Coffee Co.

Adjacent to the Roswell motorcycle shop Pop’s Garage Fabrication and owned by the same folks, Pop’s Coffee is as sleek as a new Harley, with plenty of space to spread out and a fully loaded coffee bar serving Batdorf & Bronson coffee.

Midtown Wine Bar: El Viñedo Local

When El Viñedo Local opened in March, the notion that you could drop in for a glass of wine before a show at the Fox seemed like a distant dream. Now, though: The theater has reopened, it’s just down the street, and this stylish wine bar serves a lively South American menu of ceviche, arepas, and empanadas, plus wines and fair-trade coffees from the region.

Food at a Brewery Where the Beer Is Also Tops: Biggerstaff Brewing Company

Right next to Staplehouse, this brand-new brewery takes its food (beet salad with burrata and country ham, crisp pork belly over creamed farro) as seriously as its beers. And its beans: Until 3 p.m. on weekdays, Biggerstaff is a cheerful coffee shop with one of the prettiest patios on Edgewood Avenue.

Lucian Books and WineBuckhead Wine Bar: Lucian Books and Wine

The space is gorgeous, the vibes are fantastic, and the wine cellar is deep and eclectic; even if you’re not a drinker, the flawless small plates—omelet with truffle, oysters, pillowy ricotta gnudi—make Lucian one of this year’s most exciting restaurant debuts.

New OTP Brewing Company: Blackbird Farms Brewery

An oasis of calm—aka beer—on a traffic-clogged stretch of Lawrenceville Highway, this “farm-inspired brewery” aims to incorporate local fruits, herbs, and flowers into its ales, including some procured from area foragers. Bonus points for the kid-friendly Little Llama root beer.

Classic Martini: The Betty

What makes a great martini? The perfect ratio of ingredients, a graceful professional handling the cocktail shaker, and the ethereal skin of ice floating on top of the resulting drink—which shines like crystal amid the midcentury decor at the Betty, the restaurant on the first floor of one of Atlanta’s coolest new boutique hotels.

The Chastain
The Chastain

Photograph by Bailey Garrot

Morning Cup of Coffee: The Chastain

By night, it’s an upscale Buckhead bistro (with a great burger)—but by day, the Chastain is a convivial cafe with a shaded patio, plus Brash coffee drinks, peerless pastries, and casual morning meals (try the strawberry toast, with ricotta and olive oil on sourdough).

Strawberry cinnamon cocktail

Photo by Madelynne Ross

Cocktail Theater: Bar Vegan

A year into the benighted era during which “Zoom happy hours” unfortunately became a thing, Slutty Vegan impresario Pinky Cole gave us what we richly deserve: cocktails with pizzazz. Shut the laptop, head to Ponce City Market, and prepare to be wowed by Cole’s “bar theater,” which includes drinks served on Ferris wheels and inside smoking volcanoes.

Hippin Hops
Hippin Hops

Photograph by Martha Williams

Trendsetting Brewer: Hippin Hops

When it opened in East Atlanta Village, Hippin Hops was the first Black-owned brick-and-mortar brewery in Georgia, serving thoughtfully crafted beers (like the Baby Mama Drama, a briskly fruity IPA), oysters, and other New Orleans–influenced bar snacks. As owners Clarence and Donnica Boston expand to locations in East Lake and Stone Mountain, though, Hippin Hops’ days as the only local Black-owned beer joint are numbered: Look for the imminent opening of Atlantucky Brewing, from members of the Nappy Roots.

Experimental Beer Joint: Three Taverns Imaginarium

Opened in the Atlanta Dairies, this brewpub serves the results of various experiments with brewing techniques, ingredients, and styles; the rotating tap of inventive beers includes milkshake IPAs, fruit and cream sours, and stouts.

New-Wave Coffee Drinks: Academy Coffee + Kinship Butcher & Sundry

One of the most exciting components of Kinship—a new VaHi hybrid butcher-grocer-cafe—is its coffee counter, where barista Connan Moody serves complex, dreamy concoctions like a flat white with bay leaf and olive oil and cold-brew with banana and basil.

The buzz about Avondale Estates

Back in 2014, when Nick Purdy opened Wild Heaven Beer’s original brewery in a long-vacant warehouse that had once cranked out garden gnomes, he thought of Avondale Estates’ industrial northwest section as isolated, if not invisible. Fallow lots, a few artist studios, barbed-wire fences, and junkyards—all next to the city’s famed Tudor Village and leafy residential streets.

Fast-forward seven years, and a USA Today poll in March declared Avondale Estates the best “small-town beer scene” in America. Joining Wild Heaven in a new open-container district that spans about a dozen blocks are four more beer-centric destinations: My Parents’ Basement restaurant (with dozens of brews on tap), the Beer Growler (ditto), Lost Druid Brewery, and the latest entrant, Little Cottage Brewery. (In the midst of all this is Olive and Pine, a food hall set to open next year with an artisanal market, burger joint, cocktail bar, and Leftie Lee’s bakery and sandwich shop; across College Avenue are well-regarded newish restaurants Vietvana and Taylor’d Bar-B-Q.) This influx of food and beverage businesses is linked together by what city leaders have coined the ’Dale Ale Trail, a one-mile loop near a new two-acre greenspace that’s set to open in March 2022. It’s a sudsy synergy that’s created quite the—um—buzz.

Purdy estimates his regulars have tripled since early 2020, boosted in part by the pandemic, as Atlantans flocked to spacious brewery patios to hang out. And when it comes to so many new booze-quaffing options on what used to be exclusively Wild Heaven’s turf, Purdy says becoming a bona fide beer destination is a benefit to all. “A lot of people and resources are coming together to make this [district] more than it’s ever been before,” he says. “I think everybody’s all in.” —Josh Green

This article appears in our December 2021 issue.

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