Best Bar Staff, Best Martini & Best Jazz Venue
Jazz’d Tapas Bar
This has become a favorite hang for all manner of locals — from upscale yuppies and buppies to service industry folks and college students. The subterranean restaurant and bar underneath The Gap on Broughton St. boasts funky, post-modern decor, attentive employees and a hip-but-relaxed vibe. One look at the deep, saturated color scheme, comfy, overstuffed booths and cool, industrial bar area of this chic eatery is all it takes to know that they pride themselves on making a mean martini. Take it from me, their cosmopolitans aren’t too shabby either. Weekends find them showcasing some of the area’s best jazz and blues artists (and a few touring acts as well), and there’s never a cover charge to get in.
Runner-Up, Best Jazz Venue: The Mansion on Forsyth Park -- Despite this upscale hotel’s lounge being almost too cozy (it’s hard to fit more than 30 people directly in front of the musicians), it has become a hotspot for live jazz. Some of the area’s best players are on display regularly, many playing the venue’s shockingly valuable Bosendorfer grand piano.
Runner Up, Best Martini: Jen’s & Friends -- Jen’s logo is a wine glass, but don’t let that fool you. There’s a martini glass on every table, and they advertise something like 100 different varieties of this most obsessed-over gin (or vodka) libation.
Runner-Up, Best Bar Staff: Sorry Charlie’s -- Since the City Market parking garage was demolished in January, this sports bar (located in the former Frank Matthews Seafood Market on the corner of Congress and Barnard Sts.) has found itself reinvigorated by the addition of an impromptu outdoor stage and serving area (a la City Market), which they’ve cleverly dubbed The Ellis Square Courtyard. It’s become a haven for those who dig on cold beer, warm evening weather and free live music.
Best Happy Hour
Jen’s & Friends
Jen’s enjoys a loyal crowd of regulars who appreciate the intimate, friendly vibe of this tiny, clean and welcoming watering hole. Although it can get pretty crowded on the weekends, its small size and early last call (they rarely stay open past 1 am) keeps it from ever seeming too oppressive for most patrons.
Chili’s -- The full-service bar at this fun-eatery is one of the most popular on the Southside, and the wide variety of appetizers offered by this high-end chain no doubt contribute greatly to that popularity.
For years, this River Street business has proudly advertised themselves as having “The Coldest Beer In Town,” and it seems our readers agree. A no-frills restaurant and saloon located in an ancient stone and brick bay, it’s a great place to catch local bands and solo artists, and get loud and rowdy with some of the nicer crazy people in the area.
Crystal Beer Parlor -- Back in the ring to take another swing, this local landmark reopened a couple years back after being shuttered for an extended period. While some things have changed a bit, most of what made this place a Savannah tradition (fresh, thick-cut French fries, tiny loaves of sweet cornbread, giant onion rings) stayed put — along with their massive, old-timey bar stocked with —you guessed it— extremely cold beer.
With an eclectic menu that incorporates everything from Southwestern cuisine to steaks and seafood, this relatively new River Street is holding its own quite nicely in a crowded field.
Jalapeno’s -- This Mexican eatery has an extremely loyal clientele at each of their locations. They’re known for a wide variety of tequilas, which bodes well for placing in this category.
In the years since they first brought frozen, fruity, high-octane liquor drinks to River Street, scores of other specialty bars of that ilk have sprung up around the area, but many people still consider this bar (and restaurant) to be the finest exponents of these cold, tongue-numbing goofballs. For some of us, it’s the only sort of “ice-cream headache” we’ll actually try to get.
Daiquiri Island -- Daiquiri Grill, Daiquiri Beach, Daiquiri Alcove, Daiquiri Kennel, Daiquiri Ditch, Daiquiri Detention Center, you get the idea. Still, most folks would rather choose The Island when opting for a place whose name says it all.
Best Beer Selection
After their original location was gutted by fire, the owners regrouped and built a bigger, better version of this traditional British-style pub just a few blocks away from their old home. Always known for a kickin’ selection of lagers, ales and malts, they’ve got plenty more room to spread out now and that equals a distinct uptick in the variety of barley-based beverages they can keep on hand.
Moon River Brewing Co. -- Churchill’s close neighbors actually brew their own increasingly popular specialty beers on site, and of late, that output can also be found on tap at many other area taverns.
Best Wine Selection
Venus De Milo
Located near the corner of Congress St. and MLK, Jr. Blvd., this dark and intimate 2-story bar established its rep as a haven for wine enthusiasts immediately upon opening, and years later still enjoys a faithful clientele of vino lovers. They also feature live DJs, and regularly host tastings which benefit charitable causes.
Elizabeth On 37th -- Known worldwide as one of Savannah’s finest fine dining establishments, this charming eatery (in a large, historic mansion) has one heck of a wine list — not to mention a knowledgeable and eager staff who are glad to point diners toward the right grapes for their plates.
Best Place to Pick Up Someone
The Bar Bar
This sprawling, multi-room basement-level tavern in City Market has enough nooks and crannies (and bleary-eyed patrons) to make off-the-cuff public snogging more than possible. That and the predominantly perky, nubile, and hunky clientele conspire to create an environment where the odds of single folks leaving alone are noticeably reduced.
Locos Deli & Pub (Downtown) -- College kids, loud music, alcohol, a fairly dark 2nd level... Need I say more?
Best Place to Hear Live Music
Primarily known as a haven for punk, hardcore and modern metal acts, this Congress St. room (which previously housed the similarly-themed venue The Velvet Elvis) occasionally ventures outside those favored genres to book alternative country, rockabilly, indie-rock, and potty-mouthed robots. Currently it’s one of the only places one can regularly see local, regional and national acts in a club environment.
Locos Deli & Pub (Downtown) -- Since the demise of JJ Cagney’s, this fratty full-service restaurant and bar has become ground central for touring jam-bands as well as local blues, rock and funk groups.
Best Alternative Lifestyles Bar & Best Dance Club
Long at the forefront of Savannah’s GLBT entertainment scene, this multi-level dance club and theater draws crowds year-round to their dance floor and their classy upstairs cabaret stage complete with velvet curtains. Known far and wide (among straights as well) as the local home base for famed “candy-hider” The Lady Chablis, it regularly showcases a rotating cast of well-known female impersonators. Gay, straight, young and old all flock to this popular alternative lifestyle bar known for a killer sound system and mesmerizing light show.
Runner-up, Best Alternative Bar:Chuck’s Bar -- This funky and kitschy dive is one of the least “River Street” bars on River Street which is a good thing! While not technically a gay bar, its accepting environment has made it a favorite hang for late-night partiers of all stripes.
Runner-Up, Best Dance Club: Deja Groove -- A massive Top 40 booty bar above River Street on Factor’s Walk that packs in locals, tourists and active duty military with its no-frills atmosphere and endless opportunities for hooking up and getting down.
Best Sports Bar
Between their numerous big screen TVs, satellite programming, interactive trivia and arcade games, outdoor “beach” volleyball, shuffleboard, darts and pool, this Thunderbolt hangout is one of the major spots for local sports culture.
Locos Deli & Pub (Downtown) -- One of the only locations NOG (North of Gaston) where one can catch up on a big game, scarf down hot wings, and scream loud enough to wake the dead without being asked to leave. In fact, they might invite you back.
B & B Billiards
With 6 top-notch tables and several beers on tap (including a few obscure British and European brews for the adventurous), this cellar space on Congress St. is the hall of choice for many serious players.
Capone’s -- In addition to offering free pool with any lunch order (they have a full bar and menu), of late, this Eisenhower Dr. establishment has occasionally featured live local rock bands on weekend nights.
This large restaurant has two separate rooms, so those who prefer to merely watch TV or converse don’t have to struggle over the caterwauling of amateur vocalists. As if having a stage and enthusiastic crowd of regulars wasn’t enough, they serve food till the wee hours.
The Rail Pub -- Their weekly “Helium Karaoke” hosted by an intense and mysterious figure who goes by the name of Wrath Nasty, allows participants to huff on the aforementioned gas in order to hit high notes which are usually far out of their range. Oh yeah, and it makes them sound funny too.
The Six Pence
Known for their low, stamped ceiling, genuine red British phone booth, cornucopia of draught beers and extensive menu of traditional pub fare (featuring spot-on Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers & Mash), this Bull Street bistro is a haven for townies and tourists alike.
Churchill’s -- This popular destination is more expansive than The Six Pence, but boasts a menu and vibe that’s just as authentic and inviting.
Best Blues Venue
A comfortable basement room underneath City Market, it offers good sight lines, a separate game room, and constant live shows by local and regional touring artists (both blues and jam-rock).
Mercury Lounge -- With their Rat Pack mural as a fitting backdrop, this spacious (and surprisingly not too smoky) Congress Street venue regularly books most of the better local blues, jazz and rock cover acts.
Best Neighborhood Bar
While some may keep this Drayton Street fixture in their hearts for its long-standing connection to Georgia politics, the simple truth is that a trip to Pinkie’s for a PBR and some seasoned popcorn is something of a rite of passage, and a distinguished tenure at this glorious dive will earn you a genuine smile and a knowing nod from the barkeeps — not something that comes easily at this place.
Jen’s & Friends -- It’s a bit of an odd neighborhood (mostly businesses) but those in the area have taken nicely to the staff and atmosphere.
Best Adult Entertainment Club
The Gold Club
Located just across the bridge on the way to Hardeeville, South Carolina, this massive nightclub has the staff, the space, and the determination to beat most of their competition hands down. They’re increasingly booking nationally-known exotic dancers in addition to their local staff.
Club One -- This ain’t your daddy’s Adult Entertainment Club. Or maybe it is...
Best New Bar
Jen’s & Friends
Man, it seems like this upstart hangout has struck a chord with downtown tipplers.
The Caledonian -- After a long renovation, this Scottish pub in midtown (corner of Victory Dr. and Abercorn St.) opened to much fanfare a few weeks back, and seems to be drawing steady crowds hungry for an all-purpose libation station within walking distance of Baldwin Park and Thomas Square. Plenty of esoteric beers on tap, and darts (but of course!).
Best Tybee Bar
Almost as much of an institution in this tight-knit beach community as the Shipwatch Lounge was in its day, Doc’s is the ideal place to belly rub with a stranger to Parrothead covers, while looking over your shoulder to make sure that stranger’s not married to someone bigger than you.
Café Loco -- This restaurant on Lazaretto Creek has slowly become one of the most recognizable nightspots on Tybee. With a menu that leans heavily on spicy bar food, and a cluttered decor that’s heavy on kitschy Americana, it’s a favorite hang for young folks and families alike. The owner’s a live music fan with strong ties to the Athens, Ga. scene, and sometimes brings in well-known alternative rock bands for intimate concerts.
Best Overall Bar
Locos Deli & Pub (Downtown)
This increasingly popular spot seems to have it all: Full menu of standard American bar fare (sandwiches, chicken, beef, salads, wings, etc...) for both lunch and dinner, a kitchen that stays open late, live music with low cover charges, plenty of plasma screens to keep up with sporting events and a wide selection of alcoholic beverages. Plus, they even deliver!
The Jinx -- While obviously not for everyone (it can get a little loud and oppressive at times), this alternative and indie-rock music venue also offers a weekly underground hip-hop night (featuring live acts, DJs, freestyle rap battles and break-dancing exhibitions) and dance parties where an unusually wide range of music (from Brit-pop to ska to punk to retro soul) gets spun.
Favorite Brand of Beer
Not much to say. It’s what’s in your hand right now.
Miller Lite -- This is what you’ll reach for when the Bud Light runs out.
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