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Savannah’s top drinking spots

Bar Julian has one of the best sunset views in Savannah. (Courtesy of Bar Julian)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Bar Julian has one of the best sunset views in Savannah. (Courtesy of Bar Julian)

Thirty years ago, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” author John Berendt shared a version of a famous saying about Savannah:

“If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, ‘What’s your business?’ In Macon, they ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ In Augusta, they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah, the first question people ask you is ‘What would you like to drink?’”

Jimmy Carter is seen with bar owner Luis Chris “Pinkie” Masterpolis (seated front), better known as Pinkie Masters. (Courtesy of the Original Pinkie Masters)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

The Hostess City’s well-earned reputation as a drinking town has been bolstered by an open-container policy that allows bars and restaurants to sell drinks to go in parts of downtown. The official zone lies north of Jones Street, but the boundaries aren’t marked clearly or advertised.

The bars selected for this guide are in the general downtown area. All are within walking distance of other featured bars and restaurants. However, as in any other city, visitors should be aware of their surroundings after dark.

17Hundred90 Inn & Restaurant

For decades, the cozy tavern portion of this establishment has attracted myriad downtown types — residents sharing the latest news and gossip, workers eager to unwind before heading home, flaneurs without any schedule at all. With the surge in tourism, 17Hundred90 might not be as idiosyncratic as it once was, but it’s still a great spot for classic cocktails and conversation. The restaurant menu, which includes such Lowcountry appetizers as shrimp and grits and deviled crabcakes, is available in the bar from 5 to 9 p.m.

307 E. President St., Savannah. 1790restaurant.com

Abe’s on Lincoln

With low ceilings, dim lighting and drawings of Abraham Lincoln hanging from the walls and rafters, Abe’s is a friendly dive that channels the energy of a succession of bars that previously occupied the corner of Lincoln and Bryan streets. Abe’s has a comfortable patio, an open mic night on Monday that attracts some of Savannah’s best musicians and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a staple of the local scene, for just $3.

17 Lincoln St., Savannah. facebook.com/abesonlincoln

Alley Cat Lounge

Few people will chance upon Alley Cat Lounge. The tony cocktail bar occupies the spacious basement below Dottie’s Market on West Broughton Street, but the entrance is in the lane. The bar publishes Alley Cat Rag, which doubles as a menu and a newsprint tabloid with fun stories about booze around the world. If you’re overwhelmed by the many spirits available, trust the judgment of the knowledgeable bartenders. Remember the Maine, a drink combining rye whiskey, vermouth, absinthe and cherry liqueur, is a perfect way to start the evening — or end the night.

207 W. Broughton Lane, Savannah. alleycatsavannah.com

Arco Cocktail Lounge

Located in a narrow building along Upper Factors Walk, near the famed Cotton Exchange, this spot features a surprisingly roomy bar, plus couches and lounge chairs under a series of arches. The space is flooded with natural light during the day, and some tables have commanding views across the Savannah River. A cucumber bliss gin cocktail is a refreshing option on a hot day, and the burrata and heirloom tomato appetizer is perfect for sharing.

42 E. Bay St., Savannah. arcolounge.com

Bar Julian is located atop the Thompson Savannah hotel. (Courtesy of Bar Julian)

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Credit: Handout

Bar Julian

Bar Julian made a big splash when it opened in 2021 atop the new Thompson Savannah hotel in the Eastern Wharf development at the east end of the Riverwalk. The welcoming interior, excellent cocktails and clever Mediterranean-inspired food would have been enough to lure locals, but it’s the expansive views that set Bar Julian apart.

201 Port St., Savannah. barjulian.com

Lone Wolf Lounge

The entrance to this lounge is so unassuming that first-time visitors have been known to stand on the sidewalk and look blankly at the building, certain that their phones have led them astray. The tile flooring and wood paneling might give the impression that Lone Wolf has been around for decades, but it dates to just 2018. Since then, the bar has found ways to develop into a vital gathering spot near the border of the Thomas Square and Baldwin Park neighborhoods.

2429 Lincoln St., Savannah. lonewolfsav.com

Founded more than 70 years ago, the Original Pinkie Masters, at the corner of East Harris and Drayton streets, is a Savannah institution. (Courtesy of the Original Pinkie Masters)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

The Original Pinkie Masters

Founded by the late Luis Chris “Pinkie” Masterpolis more than 70 years ago, Pinkie’s is a Savannah institution. Jimmy Carter visited multiple times, including in 1978 when he stood on the bar and delivered a short speech, and it’s one of the best spots in town to chance upon visiting celebrities. But the bar really distinguishes itself for its consistency over the decades, even as downtown has undergone dramatic changes. Pinkie Masters still is a perfect spot for a cold beer, a strong cocktail, a few songs from the jukebox and interesting conversation.

318 Drayton St., Savannah. theoriginalpinkies.com

Over Yonder

Over Yonder turns into a high-spirited honky-tonk every Saturday afternoon, when such local acts as Anders Thomsen take over the small stage. The bar and its adjacent patio can fill up at other times, too, but Over Yonder is a super option at quieter times. The comfortable booths are perfect for private conversation, and the small kitchen serves one of the best burgers in town.

2424 Abercorn St., Savannah. overyondersav.com

Savannah's Over Yonder turns into a high-spirited honky-tonk every Saturday afternoon. (Courtesy of Anna Ottum)

Credit: Anna Ottum

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Credit: Anna Ottum

The Rail Pub

“When people around you are having a good time,” reads Rule No. 8 on the Rail’s website, “please don’t play Pink Floyd on the jukebox. This is a fun neighborhood bar, not a mortuary.” A mainstay of the West Congress Street nightlife corridor for nearly 30 years — that’s a lot of peanut shells on the floor — the Rail has bars on both the first and second stories, plus a courtyard that routinely features live music. Karaoke and generous happy hours have helped the bar maintain a loyal local following.

405 W. Congress St., Savannah. therailpub.com

Savoy Society

Tucked into a corner of Drayton Tower on East Liberty Street, this place has superior cocktails, regional draft beers and eclectic dishes from the kitchen. The experienced bartenders make mean martinis (available as a mini, regular or pitcher) and the beet-pickled deviled eggs with crispy prosciutto pair perfectly with the funky, retro vibe. Check out the smoked salmon and avocado flatbread or the chicken and brie sandwich, if you’re looking for something more substantial.

102 E. Liberty St., Savannah. savoysociety.com

Service Brewing Co.

Kevin Ryan, a West Point grad and Army veteran, and his partner, Meredith Sutton, opened this brewery a decade ago in the northwest corner of downtown, before the development of Plant Riverside. The early emphasis on cultivating a local clientele has paid off. The weekly calendar includes trivia, live bluegrass and a running club, and Service Brewing also holds fundraisers for nonprofits that support service personnel and first responders. Compass Rose IPA and Rally Point Pilsner are among the local favorites on tap.

574 Indian St., Savannah. servicebrewing.com

Two Tides Brewing Co.

A hub of the burgeoning Starland District, Two Tides typically has about a dozen beers on tap, with emphasis on sours and hazy IPAs. The second-floor taproom formerly was a private residence and still has the feel of a hip apartment. Two Tides has been expanding, with the Crispi food truck, which typically is out front, and the cozy, street-level Smol Bar and Float Coffee. The brewery routinely takes over adjacent De Soto Avenue for live music, festivals and special events.

12 W. 41st St., Savannah. twotidesbrewing.com

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