The Best of Savannah

Best of Savannah 2012: Nightlife

Best New Bar

Best Mixed Drinks

The Sparetime

The windowed lounge on the corner of MLK Blvd. and Congress Street spared no time finding its way into the approval of our readers. Spinning vintage vinyl and serving up delicious snacks, Savannah’s newest hotspot recently graced our front cover. We touted it as “Your New Third Place,” a reference to proprietor Clara Fishel’s propensity for reading up on social theorist Ray Oldenburg.

A “third place” is anywhere you want to hang out after home (number one) and work (number two), where community thrives without being forced.

What makes a great third place? Ol’ Ray wrote that they’ve got to be fun and they can’t be pretentious–qualities that Fishel kept in high mind as she and her cohorts planned their vision. Which explains the wackalicious LP collection and the inclusion of Old Milwaukee highboys on the drink menu.

Speaking of the Sparetime’s winning house cocktail choosings, head barkeep Jane Fishel has created a revolving selection of libations utilizing some of the country’s finest small batch liquors. Spring has bloomed the lip–smacking June & Juice, a refreshing concoction of Death’s Door Gin, flowery Esprit de June and grapefruit juice.

Our current favorite is the seductive Captain Longstocking, a glassful of trouble consisting of house–spiced rum and apricot liqueur with aromas of vanilla and lemon. — JLL

Runner–up, New: Congress Street Social Club

Runner–up, Mixed: Jen’s & Friends

Best Overall Bar

Best Bar Staff

Best Downtown Bar

Best Place to Listen to Live Music

Best Bartender

Best Happy Hour

The Jinx

Next year, it will have been a decade since Susanne Guest bought the lease on the club formerly known as Velvet Elvis. She’d never run a bar before – at the time, she was a body-piercing artist at Planet Three - but Guest, a die-hard music fan, absolutely loved the joint. It was where tattoo types, punks, bikers, artists, metalheads, rednecks and those of the hip hop persuasion hung out in harmony. “It was unique,” she told us. “It wasn’t like anything else here.”

Friends with the previous owner, Guest learned early on of the Velvet Elvis’ demise, and made a deal so that the doors would stay open in perpetuity.

“I just didn’t want Savannah to lose that spot,” she said, praising the open-minded clientele and the eclectic range of atmospheres.

“We have such a huge music and art scene here, I wanted those people to have a comfortable place to go, that they felt good about.”

Her surname changed after her marriage to tattoo artist Brian Warnekros, but in the almost-a-decade since the Jinx – as she re-dubbed the club – opened, the eclectic, all-welcoming, all-inclusive vibe hasn’t shifted a whit.

In a town where picking the coolest live music on any given weekend is getting more and more difficult, the Jinx stands tall. Susanne Guest Warenkros – a fan, first and foremost – does all the booking herself. And she has pretty high standards.

“I don’t think people really realize how demanding it is to be in charge of the party six nights a week,” she said. “But as far as doing it differently? I probably wouldn’t.” – BDY

Runner–up, Overall, Staff & Downtown: Sparetime

Runner–up, Bartender: Siran at Abe’s

Runner–up, Live Music: Live Wire

Runner–up, Happy Hour: Mellow Mushroom

Runner-up, Overall, Staff & Downtown: Sparetime

Runner-up, Bartender: Siran at Abe's

Runner-up, Live Music: Live Wire

Runner-up, Happy Hour: Mellow Mushroom

Best Outdoor Bar

Best Pool Hall

Congress Street Social Club

Set in the former B&B Billiard’s location, creative use of the expansive courtyard space makes the Social Club really social.

Runner–up, Outdoor: Rocks on the Roof

Runner–up, Pool Hall: Southside Billiards

Best Daytime Bar


The killer menu here, including their signature awesome burgers, is a big draw for lunch.

Runner–up: The Jinx

Best Neighborhood Bar

Best Weeknight Bar

Bar Food

A very steady, very close–knit regular clientele means you can pop in Johnny Baker’s place most any night and find a good crowd.

Runner–up: The Jinx

Best River Street Bar

Wet Willie’s

Hard for many folks to resist the sweet temptations of those frozen drinks... even Tybee is getting a Wet Willie’s soon.

Runner–up: The Warehouse

Best Southside Bar


One of the venerable names in Savannah’s food & bev scene delivers once again.

Runner–up: Tailgate

Best Islands Bar

Molly McGuire’s

Between Molly’s and the increased variety of good restaurants on the Islands, you don’t even have to come downtown anymore if you don’t want to.

Runner–up: Britannia

Best Tybee Bar

Huc A Poo’s

A friendly oasis of food, drink, and fellowship before you hit the more tourist–dominated areas.

Runner–up: Doc’s Bar

Best Westside Bar

Robins Nest Sports Bar & Grill

Great sports bar atmosphere in Godley Station.

Runner–up: Roger Woods

Best Upscale Bar

Circa 1875

Swank but friendly, Circa features a great selection of craft beer and expertly mixed cocktails to go along with the beautiful furnishings.

Runner–up: Rocks on the Roof

Best Rooftop Bar

Rocks on the Roof

Truly stunning views of the riverfront at this newish hotspot for locals and tourists alike.

Runner–up: Churchill’s Pub

Best Margarita


Not only a popular eating spot, all Jalapenos locations feature killer margaritas and great happy hour specials.

Runner–up: Carlito’s

Best Martini

Jen’s & Friends

In the Mad Men era, this dying aspect of mixology is getting a new life, and Jen’s is the main proponent locally.

Runner–up: Jazz’d Tapas Bar

Best Retail Wine Selection

Best Retail Beer Selection

Habersham Beverage

Whether at the Superstore on Abercorn or the original Habersham Village location, Hab–Bev takes the grape–and–hops flavored cake.

Runner–up, both: Johnnie Ganem’s

Best Beer on Tap

Best Bottled Beer Selection

The Distillery

Yup, it’s in the site of an actual old distillery and they are serving up a vast range of brews, both on tap and in the bottle.
Runner–up, Tap: Moon River

Runner–up, Bottle: Crystal Beer Parlor

Best British Pub

Churchill’s Pub

Fish & Chips & Newcastle, mate.

Runner–up: Six Pence Pub

Best Irish Pub

Kevin Barry’s

A Guinness, some traditional Irish tunes courtesy of Harry O’Donoghue & Co., and a great view of the waterfront.

Runner–up: O’Connell’s

Best Scottish Pub

Molly McPherson’s

So you say a Scottish Pub can’t be that much different from a regular ol’ British Pub? Well whatever you do, don’t tell a Scot that.

Runner–up: Molly McGuire’s

Best Dance Club

Best Gay Bar

Best Gay Club

Club One

While best known to the world at large as the host of Lady Chablis’ drag shows, the truth is that Club One has quietly gained a reputation not only as one of Savannah’s most fun party and dance spots but as a nexus of gay culture in Savannah and surrounding area.

Runner–up, Dance: The Crypt

Runner–up, Gay Bar & Club: Chuck’s Bar

Best Latin Dancing

SubZero Bar

Thursday is Salsa/Ladies Night at this West Broughton club. Ay caramba!

Runner–up: Tantra

Best Sports Bar

Coach’s Corner

A jillion TVs, a friendly staff, and some great food as well mean an awesome game day or night experience.

Runner–up: Wild Wing Cafe

Best Adult Entertainment

Uncle Harry’s

The recent crackdown on late night entertainment in Jasper County SC means Uncle Harry’s on the Westside of Savannah is even more happenin’.

Runner–up: Temptations

Best Karaoke


One of Savannah’s great institutions, karaoke at McDonough’s brings together a diverse range of people from all walks of local life.

Runner–up: Club One

Best Bar to Spot a Celebrity

Pinkie Masters

Considering that regulars at Pinkie’s are sort of celebrities unto themselves, that’s saying quite a lot.
Runner–up: McDonough’s 

Best College Bar

Best Hookup Spot

Best Signature Drink

Best Trivia Night

Hang Fire

In the relatively short time it’s been open, Hang Fire on Whitaker Street has laid claim to being one of the most popular watering holes in town  — quite a statement when you consider the competition in this alcohol–centric little party town.

Hang Fire cleaned up in this year’s Readers Poll, winning several key Nightlife categories, including one that makes the proprietor laugh.

“We also won Best Hookup Spot, which I think is pretty hilarious,” says Wes Daniel, the most public face of the partnership which owns Hang Fire and a steady presence both behind the bar and milling around with the mostly college–age clientele.

Indeed, the combination of Daniel’s own easygoing good humor, the draw of a dark, funky bar with kickass tuneage, and the building’s pedigree — former home to several strip clubs, including downtown’s last strip bar, the Waving Girl Lounge — would seem to be unbeatable.

That, and the incredible popularity of Hang Fire’s signature offering, Scorpion Tea. Five bucks gets you a Mason jar full of the Kickapoo juice that Daniel’s patrons can’t get enough of.

“I just sort of came up with it and everybody seemed to like it right away. I didn’t even taste it myself until awhile later,” Daniel says.

“It’s a little sweet for me. But people really seem to love it. It’s got that little bit of sweetness, it’s got a kick to it, you get to drink it out of a Mason jar. Something for everybody,” he laughs.

Daniels recalls that when Hang Fire debuted Scorpion Tea, he and the bartenders were mixing each drink up on the spot, to order.

“Then one night between like 9 and 11:30 we had to make about 50 of them individually. That’s when we realized there had to be a better way,” he says.

Nowadays, Scorpion Tea is made by the batch before the bar opens each night. In keeping with his laidback nature, Daniel was happy to share the recipe with us:

• Bourbon

• Razzmatazz

• Sweet & Sour Mix

• Ginger Beer

Scorpion Tea or not, Hang Fire is the college bar of choice, and like any college bar the action gets going pretty late.
“There will be some nights when it’s still pretty dead in here as late as 10:30 or 11. Then it’s like the floodgates open and the place gets packed real quick and stays that way ‘til closing time,” says Daniel.

On Wednesdays, Hang Fire hosts a popular Trivia Night, another award–winning category for them this year.

“My partner in Atlanta actually comes up with the questions,” Daniel says. I usually wear a three–piece suit when I host it. I’m not really sure why!” — JM

Runner–up, College Bar: Congress Street Social Club

Runner–up, Signature Drink: Lulu’s Chocolate Bar

Runner–up, Hookup: Club One

Runner–up, Trivia: Mellow Mushroom


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