The Atlanta Food and Wine Festival (AFWF) invades Midtown today and runs through June 5. Now in its sixth year, the festival has become one of the city’s premier events, showcasing the South’s finest chefs, wine and spirits producers and artisan food makers .
Atlanta will have its fair share of industry talent at the festival teaching and preaching Southern culinary culture at classes, tasting tents, dinners and even at a temporary vineyard . Where will Atlanta’s cocktail, wine and beer elite drink around town when taking a break from the festival? The city’s star bartenders and beverage experts shared their favorite swilling spots, which means you, too, can drink like a pro.
If you’ve attended the festival before and fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, you’ve attended sommelier and wine educator Eric Crane’s highly entertaining tasting sessions. Mr. Crane is back with all-new classes like “Beer vs. Rose” and “Chardonnay: Your Best Frenemy.” Crane said this summer’s hottest wines include rose, day drinkers like vinho verde, French and New Zealand sauvignon blanc and the perennial Champagne. For post-festival sips, he suggested heading to Canoe for some Champagne by the Chattahooche River or to Miller Union and Aria for their stellar wine lists. Want to catch Crane in the wild? Walk over to the unofficial AFWF headquarters, Empire State South. He said of ESS, “Everything seems to either start or finish here. They have a wildly talented bar staff and a great place to hang out outdoors. The wine program is very quench-y. They also have that amazing bocce ball court where people have made sand angels really late in the night.”
AJC food writer, “Beer Town” columnist and Southern Brew News editor Bob Townsend is back giving festival-goers the latest on the South’s craft beer scene with classes like “Southern Craft Brewers Spill It” and “Beers to Quench Your Thirst.” He suggested seeking post-festival brews at his go-to watering holes: Brick Store Pub in Decatur or Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points. If you’re looking for something walkable from the Loews Hotel in Midtown, hub for the festival, Townsend suggested Empire State South and Cypress Street Pint & Plate as two "convivial drinking spots with good beer selections. And, if you’re looking for a local tour and tasting, Orpheus Brewing is walking distance from Piedmont Park.”
Atlanta’s American Spirit Whiskey will be in the tents again this year with their white whiskey and that delicious Southern mule cocktail for sipping in the sun. Owners Charlie Thompson and Jim Chasteen’s distillery will also be the backdrop for this year’s festival kick-off party, Destination Delicious, tonight, June 6, at The Stave Room. We asked the longtime friends where they head to sip whiskey when they’re off-duty. Chasteen said, “I have found our local bowling alleys are the dark horse winners for drinking whiskey. You would be surprised at the whiskey selections at Midtown Bowl and The Painted Pin. Bowling and whiskey are each improved by the presence of the other.” For Thompson, it’s about a great selection - and walkability from his home (and the festival): “Saltyard is my whiskey go-to. They have one of the best bars in Atlanta and a world-class staff. Also, I can walk home.” We’ll toss one more in the ring for you to consider, Southern Art and Bourbon Bar at the InterContinental Buckhead. It has an expansive whiskey list and is a short Uber ride from the festival.
Empire State South’s Kellie Thorn will be dishing out her vast knowledge of cognac with Miles Macquarrie of Kimball House on Saturday morning in their session on the aged wine and its place in modern cocktails. When Thorn isn’t nerding out over her favorite spirit, she likes to sip on cognac drinks. “Ticonderoga Club has two great cocktails with cognac right now: the Yankee Dollar and the Ticonderoga Cup. They’re also pouring Delamain XO!” We also suggest heading to ESS for one our favorites the Two World Hero which has become a staple on the menu and recently garnered international attention when Thorn’s rye and cognac concoction made Gary Regan’s list of 101 World’s Best New Cocktails of 2015 .
Ticonderoga Club partners and Atlanta cocktail forefathers Paul Calvert and Greg Best will be back leading sessions on historically-based drinks and ingredients--subjects they love to share with guests at The Club’s bar. When they’re not slinging colonial-style drinks or proselytizing the cocktail masses to their clever imbibes, the boys can be found sipping at some of their favorite bars around town, including Decatur’s Kimball House, The Mercury at Ponce City Market, Kirkwood’s Ration and Dram, Westside’s Little Trouble and Edgewood Avenue’s Noni’s Deli. For post-festival cocktails, you’ll find them tippling at, where else, Empire State South.
Where to drink wine, cocktails, cognac and partake in post-festival shenanigans:
Empire State South, 999 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-541-1105, empirestatesouth.com.
Where to drink wine:
Aria, 490 East Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta. 404-233-7673, aria-atl.com.
Canoe, 4199 Paces Ferry Road SE, Atlanta. 770-432-2663, canoeatl.com.
Miller Union, 999 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. 678-733-8550, millerunion.com.
Where to drink beer:
Brick Store Pub, 125 East Court Square, Decatur. 404-687-0990, brickstorepub.com.
Cypress Street Pint & Plate, 817 West Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-815-9243, cypressbar.com.
The Porter Beer Bar, 1156 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-223-0393, theporterbeerbar.com.
Where to drink whiskey:
Midtown Bowl, 1936 Piedmont Circle NE, Atlanta. 404-874-5703, midtownbowl.com.
The Painted Pin, 737 Miami Circle NE, Atlanta. 404-814-8736, thepaintedpin.com.
Saltyard, 1820 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-382-8088, saltyardatlanta.com.
Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, 3315 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-946-9070, southernart.com.
Where to drink cognac:
Ticonderoga Club, Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 404-458-4534, ticonderogaclub.com.
Where to drink cocktails:
Kimball House, 303 East Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502, kimball-house.com.
Little Trouble, 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-500-4737, little-trouble.com.
The Mercury, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-500-5253, themercuryatl.com.
Noni’s Deli, 357 Edgewood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404- 343-1808, nonisdeli.com.
Ration and Dram, 130 Arizona Ave. NE, Atlanta. 678-974-8380, rationanddram.com.