Explore Atlanta

A Bartender’s Guide to the Best of Atlanta’s Nightlife

From dive bars to craft beers and killer cocktails, local bartender Arianne Fielder has your Atlanta nightlife perfectly planned.

Arianne Fielder makes a mean Manhattan. Actually, she makes a mean everything. The beautiful blonde bartender, an Atlanta native and Georgia Tech grad, built her reputation behind the bars of such hip establishments as Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, Parish Food & Goods, Seven Lamps, Prohibition and more. And this month, Fielder opens her own restaurant and bar, Bellwoods Social House, with chef/owner Leif Johnson in West Midtown. “It's going to be a neighborhood craft cocktail bar with incredible food. I want to have every aspect of a good neighborhood place.” We asked Fielder to share her go-to spots around town for food, fun and cocktails in Atlanta.

Arianne Fielder
Best patio bar? Steamhouse Lounge. Cocktails? Kimball House. Date night? Joystick Gamebar. Arianne Fielder has you covered, no matter what kind of nightlife you’re seeking in Atlanta. (Courtesy Arianne Fielder)

Best place for Bloody Marys:

My essentials are a housemade mix, seasoned rim and Guinness float. If it's a nice day, I like to drink them on the patio of Fontaine's in the Highlands. 

Best wine list in Atlanta:

I think that Seven Lamps, Gun Show and The Spence do a great job on their wine programs. OTP [Outside the Perimeter] I would recommend Bite in Alpharetta and Osteria Mattone.

Best place to go for craft brews:

Ormsby's! The fun games downstairs are just a nice added bonus!

Best place to go creative cocktails:

I recently visited Kimball House and was blown away by the cocktail list. Everything was balanced and delicious.

Best place to go for the singles scene:

The Five Paces Inn is always a fun time! Lots of beautiful people in an old dive bar.

Best bar/restaurant to take a first date:

I love Joystick Gamebar! Great cocktails and nostalgic old arcade games make for a relaxed evening.

Best dive bar:

I love the Pool Hall in Buckhead!

Best patio:

Steamhouse Lounge in Midtown. I love enjoying oysters and a cold beer on the wrap-around upstairs patio.

Most expensive cocktail that’s worth every penny:

A Thomas Handy Rye Sazerac. Worth every penny!

What are the three most important attributes of a good bartender?

Loving service and serving people—the point of our industry is pure hospitality. Also, passion for what they’re doing. If you have passion and love service then there is never a bad day behind the stick.

Which Atlanta bartenders are doing it right?

Tom McGuire, who is theatrical to watch tend bar and listen to stories and is ever-hospitable; Ian Cox, whose drinks are as distinctive as his voice and blow me away every time; Kellie Thorn of Empire State South whose drinks are just plain beautiful; Miles Maquarie of Kimball House; and Sarah at Holeman and Finch.

What’s the best cocktail you make?

I think I make a mean Old Fashioned. I like to make a variation using a sugar cube, Bittercube Orange bitters, black walnut bitters, rye whiskey or bourbon and a flamed orange. I've been putting this drink on my menu since I was at Southern Art and Bourbon Bar and it's always a big hit. Simple, but delicious.

What’s your drink of choice?

A well-made sazerac or manhattan, or a gin martini stirred very cold with a lemon twist.

What’s a good, easy cocktail to make for a summer get-together to impress your friends?

I always recommend a punch! Like a simple Jerry Thomas punch with gin (or vodka), creme de framboise, fresh lemon, sugar and bubbles. Dress it up with some sliced citrus and berries and you're good to go! That way you can enjoy the company of your friends and not be stuck making drinks the whole time.

So tell us more about Bellwoods Social House.

It's going to be a neighborhood craft cocktail bar with incredible food. I want to have every aspect of a good neighborhood place, while you can have a perfectly stirred Manhattan and also have a Jack and Coke. We will have everything from draft PBR to craft brews, etc. The food will be familiar dishes with local, seasonal ingredients where each ingredient is treated with care and the results are just plain delicious. The space is open and warm with a large U-shaped bar in the center, wrap-around and rooftop patios, and stacks of wood all around. I'm so excited to open!