Atlanta’s top-shelf new cocktail spots

Kick back and relax at these cool new spots

Atlanta’s top-shelf new cocktail spots
The Waiting Room

Photograph by Martha Williams

The 1970s are back, and not just the rampant inflation. (Hey-o!) Also, crucially: the vibes. And the booze. In 2021, Colony Square welcomed the groovy disco-era cocktail lounge JoJo’s Beloved, and this year it’s joined in Midtown by the Waiting Room. The latter is from the folks behind the restaurant Bon Ton; in fact, it’s above Bon Ton, a second-floor redoubt in the eye-catching pink building on Myrtle Street. Decorated in red and pink shag, and boasting DJs and live music—even a piano—the Waiting Room was designed to have a warm, grown-up feel.

Reservations are highly recommended, and those who get in the door will enjoy small bites (including oysters) and sophisticated cocktails, like the I Found a Reason, with mezcal, peach, cardamom, and egg white. Bon Ton already had one of the best bars in town; this is the multicolored cherry on top.

And it’s just one of a handful of cool cocktail spots to open recently in Atlanta. See also:

Summer Bar
Inspired by the seasons, and just as ephemeral. Not long ago this place was called Spring Bar, and in the blink of an eye it will transition to Autumn Bar—you get the idea. It’s attached to the easygoing neighborhood restaurant Nick’s Westside, with cocktails and bites changing seasonally (this spring, for instance: a bright-orange cocktail called What’s Up Doc, built around carrot-infused rye), and a sunny dining room and patio. Westside

This tiny, eclectically decorated corner spot serves a tight menu of cocktails that bartender Tim Faulkner has described as “classy” if not necessarily “classic”—amaretto sours, a daiquiri du jour. From chef Hudson Rouse, the daily-changing menu is miles above what you’ll find at other cocktail joints, with lively, seasonal, and/or locally procured fare like whole roast or poached fish, superfresh salads, and a cafeteria-style snack tray with deviled eggs, terrines, chowchow, and the like. Reynoldstown

Ranger Station
A “hidden attic bar” atop Michael Lennox’s popular BeltLine hang Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall, Ranger Station is an intimate wood-lined space serving drinks and cocktails distinct from what’s on the menu in the larger restaurant. Highlights include smoked fish dip, a snack tray with pimento cheese and smoked sausage, and chicken-fried quail, plus cocktails inspired by the outdoors, like the El Capitan (sage-and-cardamom gin, pineapple, lemon, clove) and High Plains Drifter (tequila, grapefruit, cinnamon, lime, vanilla). Old Fourth Ward

Mambo Zombi
Another top-floor addition serving top-shelf cocktails (it’s above the former Georgia Beer Garden, and owned by the same folks), this Day of the Dead–inspired lounge takes its cues from South American, Afro-Caribbean, and West Indian cultures. Under skull chandeliers, amid spooky lighting, veteran Atlanta bartender Kysha Cyrus mixes unique drinks like the Monkey See (banana-infused rum, amaro, burnt orange peel) as well as classics like mai tais and Harvey Wallbangers. Old Fourth Ward

The Forum Cocktail Co.
The freshest face on this list, this spot opened in early June inside the Works shopping center. Small plates and charcuterie from executive chef Veronica Cass complement fancy cocktails like the Desert Spoon, with sotol (a Mexican spirit distilled from a succulent shrub sometimes called the desert spoon), Cynar, hibiscus-habanero syrup, lime, and salt. There’s a reservation-only “speakeasy” hidden within. Underwood Hills

This article appears in our August 2023 issue.