Photo credit: The Rosecomb Bar
At least in my opinion...
When you live in or visit a city like Chattanooga, I highly recommend you skip the chain restaurants* and focus on finding locally owned restaurants, bars, and cocktail lounges to wine and dine at. Not only does doing so help bolster small businesses and communities, but it also ensures that you gain a better understanding of the city, the people, and the craftsmanship that goes into every sip. Keep reading for my favorite cocktails found in or nearby Northshore Chattanooga.
*This should go without saying but if you live in a part of the country without a Waffle House, you have a free pass to load up on waffles and hash browns.
VISIT OUR FAVORITE BARS AND RESTAURANTS LOCATED ON THE NORTH SHORE (MOSTLY)
Discover Boozy + Dry Cocktails at The Rosecomb
Just a stone's throw away from the main strip of the Tennessee River's Northshore, The Rosecomb has quickly become a favorite with locals and visitors alike. And if you've ever visited this delightful restaurant and cocktail bar located in what used to be a private bungalow abodé, you get it. They never miss with their skilled (and super friendly) staff and superb food and drinks served up almost every night of the week. Psst. Catch them during the day on Sundays.
Southern Suede Cocktail
The Southern Suede offers a southern perspective on a classic New York sour cocktail that's dripping in the dark and sultry vibes associated with a Southern Gothic classic novel. To create it, Rosecomb's Cameron Khourie combined Sweetens Cove Kennessee Bourbon, made of a Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey blend finished in maple barrels, Tattersall Sour Cherry Liqueur, a splash of lemon juice, an egg white, and a red wine float. These flavors combined create a drink that's boozy and well-balanced with a silky smooth mouthfeel and tart notes that play nicely with the dark fruits of the red wine.
Grady Hendrix shown in photo #4
GRADY HENDRIX MOCKTAIL
In the spirit of balance and proving that you don't need to imbibe to enjoy a complex and delicious drink, I present the Grady Hendrix, a non-alcoholic (NA) mocktail created by Rosecomb's Sarah Tuttle. This new-wave cuppa contains Tulsi (holy basil) tea, agave, lime juice, and muddled Serrano peppers served up in a margarita glass with a green pepper salt rim. Perfect for anyone that enjoys a lively drink that combines tartness, spice, and herbal notes.
The Rosecomb has an entire menu of endearing mocktails if your go-to has gotten stale. And for a bit of extra fun, their current lineup is named after southern authors. Calling all bibliophiles!
Traditional Flavors at Il Primo Restaurant
Just around the corner from our last stop is one of Chattanooga's most notable American-Italian restaurants, Il Primo. It has been a staple of the Northshore neighborhood since it opened in 2014, offering a menu that veers between traditional Italian flavors and decidedly American predilections. Its cozy brick-lined space is perfect for date nights and family dinners.
In 2017 they opened a spacious second location in Ooltewah's Cambridge Square. So you can still get your fix even if you're not in the downtown Chattanooga area.
Limoncello Draft Cocktail
A staple of their menu that hasn't changed since they opened is their signature Limoncello martini. The citrus cocktail is prepared in batches a couple of weeks before its served to allow the flavors of the lemon zest, alcohol, and sugar to marry creating a boozy infusion. To serve, it's poured from the tap, shaken with ice, and strained into a chilled martini glass with a lemon peel spiral for a garnish.
Any regular will tell you, you only need 1 of these stout drinks to forget about your worries, and 2 if you're feeling frisky. Personally, I like to sip a Limoncello before my meal and finish off with a slice of their Limoncello pie for dessert. It's an edible take on the drink that is creamy, tart, and absolutely delicious.
SIP CHAMPAGNE AT THE DAILY RATION
No list of cocktails would be complete without a proper brunch option, which is why I propose you head down the road to The Daily Ration. Owners of its sister restaurant, The Bitter Alibi, opened this breakfast and lunch spot in 2016. And 6 years later it's staying true to its roots by offering tasty bites to its neighbors and closing up shop at 2pm every day. Though on rare occasions, you might be lucky enough to visit after dark for an industry or private event.
The Eldermosa is everything I love about brunch: champagne before noon, a carafe option for sharing, and a playful name. Each glass contains Elderflower liqueur, a dash of ginger, and simple syrup topped off with some champagne. This simple combination is easy enough to make and even easier to sip on a patio.
The Newest Sister Restaurant: Clever Alehouse
The freshly painted two-story building that was once home to Big Frog Brewing is now Clever Alehouse, a neighborhood bar and restaurant. What originally started as a side project to create a place for industry workers that live in Red Bank to relax and unwind officially opened its doors to the public in June of 2022.
You might think that Clever Alehouse has no right to be on a list of "The Best Cocktails in Northshore Chattanooga" and you'd be right, in a way. But as the newest bar/restaurant to come from the owner of The Daily Ration, Jason Bowers, and co-owners Nelson Tyler, and Jeff Schwenke, it has roots in the Northshore neighborhood. So let's do the neighborly thing and welcome our new neighbors and the new food and drink options they brought with them.
Foxpresso Martini Cocktail
No one is immune to the espresso martini trend and the bar crew at Clever knows that. It all started in 2021 and by mid-2022 it seemed like every bar or restaurant had one on the menu. Luckily for me, the demand for this classic cocktail hasn't tapered off.
What makes the Foxspresso Martini so special? The vodka, simple syrup, and Kahlua liqueur are all common ingredients found in espresso martinis, but what puts Clever's 'spresso a hair above the rest is the not-so-secret-secret-ingredient, Daily Ration cold brew. Cold brew gives a little extra zing to the coffee cocktail and because it's not hot like a freshly pulled espresso shot found in other recipes, it doesn't get as diluted when shaken with ice. So take it from me, you'll want to try this one if you haven't already.
Go Off Script at Frazier Five & Dime
Next door to Almanac Supply Co. is a spot on Frazier Ave. that is known for being more than just a little quirky and that's fine by them. Since it opened in 2022, it has gained numerous fans and made a name for itself despite the many restaurants and bars that were formerly housed in its current space. If you're looking for a fun environment to indulge in high-end eats and drinks, you should add Frazier Five & Dime to your list.
Katy Perry Cocktail
I'm more of a whiskey fan myself, but when I saw a drink named after a pop star that included glitter in its ingredient list, I had to try it. And you know what? I liked it. The drink made with pear vodka, fresh ginger, lemon juice, clove, prosecco, and glitter is playful and light. If you're a fan of a fruit-forward cocktail that isn't overly sweet, make a quick trip across the Walnut Street Bridge to the north shore to try it.
Get a Marg at Taco Mamacita
N. MARKET ST.
Catty-corner from Almanac Supply Co., you'll spot Taco Mamacita on North Market. You can't miss the red marquee-style sign or their signature El Camino in the parking lot. The tex-mex restaurant was opened by Mike and Taylor Monen, who most people refer to as simply the "Monens," in 2008.
It's the place to go for fusion-style tacos like the "Sloppy Jose," their version of a sloppy joe sandwich, or "The Memphis," a nod to the barbeque the city is known for. And it quickly became a spot for anyone looking for a quality margarita at a reasonable price.
The Elvez Margarita
Do you like your margaritas frozen or on the rocks? With or without a salt rim? Do you want Anejo or Reposado tequila? With a well-stocked full bar, chances are they can make whatever you can dream up. But you can't go wrong with their signature margarita, The Elvez. It's a no-fuss classic lime margarita made with silver tequila, a house-made sweet and sour mix, Triple Sec, and freshly squeezed lime juice shaken and served on the rocks.
If you're looking to branch out from your usual routine, try the El Camino which is made with gold tequila. Or go all out and get a Cadillac, a top-shelf margarita made with oak barrel-aged Altos Reposado tequila. But if you stop by on a Sunday, you should probably do as everyone else is doing and order a glass or a pitcher of the half-priced Passion Fruit Sangria.
Shouting Distance: Downtown Chattanooga Honorable Mentions
With all the great bars and restaurants that Chattanooga has to offer, it's difficult not to mention some of my other favorites south of the river. So I've added in a few more of my current favorites from the Downtown and Southside area as well.
Taqueria Jalisco Ania - Margarita
ROSSVILLE AVE. (SOUTHSIDE)
Taqueria Jalisco Ania aka Taqueria Ania or simply "Taqueria" to locals, is a unique treasure. It offers authentic Mexican dishes like chiles rellenos, Mexican-style street tacos, enchiladas, and more in an environment that is cool yet relaxed and unstuffy. Based on the decor and quality, you'd think you're about to drop some serious cash, but the prices are shockingly affordable. While you can't go wrong with any of the food or drink options, my happy place is a plate of tacos and one of their house margaritas.
CHERRY STREET TAVERN - OLD FASHIONED
CHERRY ST. (DOWNTOWN)
Cherry Street Tavern is a pub that's style is equal parts medieval and heavy metal. But don't let that fool you. The drinks, food, crowd, and musical acts are diverse and you're never quite sure what new thing you'll discover next. Their drink and dinner menu is always changing but you can't go wrong with an Old Fashioned made the right way, with a quality bourbon, simple syrup, and an orange peel and Luxardo cherry for garnishes.
Remember if there's muddled fruit in your "Old Fashioned," it's not an Old Fashioned. Or at least not one worth having.
MATILDA MIDNIGHT - ACE OF WANDS
E. 10TH ST. (DOWNTOWN)
If you haven't heard yet, let me be the first to tell you that Matilda Midnight is back! The beloved cocktail bar known for its mid-century decor and bewitching menu has reopened with a drink menu that is either the same or very similar to a menu from its heyday. Either way, I'm in! The Ace of Wands is a light and balanced drink with floral and herbal notes that is made with a lavender-infused gin, rosemary lemon gastrique, and lemon wheel.
No Hard Feelings Bar - Chili Nelson Cocktail
BROAD ST. (DOWNTOWN)
No Hard Feelings Bar pretends to not care if you think they're cool while secretly caring very much. Which is why they put so much effort into crafting their cocktails and their vibe. The Chili Nelson, made with mezcal, green chile, and pineapple juice and served over ice is a smoky, lightly spicy cocktail that checks all my boxes. I hope Willie approves.
Calliope Restaurant - Wadi Rum
E. MLK BLVD. (SOUTHSIDE)
Calliope Restaurant made the move from Rossville in North Georgia to Chattanooga in 2022 when it reopened in the Proof Bar & Incubator. Chef Khaled Albanna creates dishes that bring the flavors of his childhood in Amman, Jordan to Chattanooga and Calliope's cocktails are designed to compliment the unique flavors. Next time you're there try the Wadi Rum, a surprising and refreshing combination of rum, apricot liquor, passion fruit, mint, and black sea salt.
When In Doubt, Ask a Bartender
If none of these sound like your thing, that's okay. A good bartender and a well-stocked bar are all you need to find your perfect match. So don't be afraid to ask for a drink recommendation and try something new.
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Now that you know where to get a great cocktail in Chattanooga, check out these other articles for more things to do in Chattanooga or for making your own seasonal drinks
BY MERI WRIGHT
Meri is a Chattanooga native, currently residing in Memphis, TN. She is always looking to check out the newest spots in Chattanooga when she comes to visit. She is a project manager by day and a stained glass artist by night.