Atlanta restaurants are shaking, swizzling and stirring up innovative craft cocktails along with amazing food this fall. Delve into our sampling of foodie and cocktail hot spots around the city.
Glenn’s Kitchen, located downtown just steps from the Centennial Olympic Park District, satisfies diners with comfort food with a Southern flair. New for fall is the slow-roasted beef short rib joined by carrot purée and cauliflower “elote.” Menu favorite coastal shrimp and grits tops locally ground grits with shrimp, white wine, butter, okra, roasted tomatoes and andouille sausage. For a sweet finish, indulge in coconut cornbread cake made from the chef’s family recipe. Pleasers from the cocktail menu include the Glenntini made with Old Fourth Ward vodka, lemon, tea-infused simple syrup, peach puree and 18.21 Earl Grey bitters and the Southern-inspired Peach in Time Old-Fashioned melding Cooper’s Craft bourbon with peach purée and soda and topped with a thyme sprig garnish.
Holeman and Finch Public House
Pledging allegiance to rock ’n’ roll, cocktails and charcuterie, Holeman and Finch Public House in Buckhead offers a rotating menu of adventurous and innovative dishes from executive chef Spencer Gomez along with contemporary twists on classic cocktails led by Stephen Racheff. Gomez’s menu delivers on the restaurant’s “whole animal, whole vegetable” philosophy with standouts such as Georgia royal red shrimp toasts topped with tomato, bacon and a spicy creole sauce; pork belly confit; and Ashley’s lettuces topped with fresh fried oysters and Caesar dressing. Cocktail highlights include the Beatrix Kiddo: banhez mezcal, pineapple, lime, yellow chartreuse, habanero agave and orange bitters; and the Don Corleone of Dickel Rye, CioCiaro, ginger, honey, lemon and Orinoco bitters.
JCT. Kitchen & Bar
Chef and restaurateur Ford Fry’s lively JCT. Kitchen & Bar in West Midtown has a harvest of fall menu and cocktail pairings from executive chef Brian Horn and beverage manager Eduardo Porto Carreiro. Raking through the menu, diners will find a hickory roasted Heritage pork chop that pairs well with “Off the Trail,” mixing Applejack brandy, Amaro, dry vermouth and walnut bitters. “Norfolk Southern” combines Bulleit bourbon with Lillet Blanc, Giffards’ White Cacao and lemon and befriends the restaurant’s Mississippi rabbit served with salt-roasted potato and turnip. The gin, Tawny Port and orange of the cocktail Above Board brings out the flavor of cloth-bound cheddar-filled pasta while the shaved apple and cucumber salad saddles up nicely to Farmer Tom’s Collins.
Livingston Restaurant + Bar and Edgar’s Proof & Provision
Spiked with bourbon and frothy with egg whites, the Billy B. Fizz is just one of the many creative masterpieces from head mixologist James Wampler at Livingston Restaurant + Bar and Edgar’s Proof & Provision in the historic Georgian Terrace Hotel. A three-time finalistin Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition, Wampler also pours a sinful El Diablito of tequila resposado, lemon, cassis, ginger and bitters and a flavorful allspice daiquiri with blackstrap rum, lime and allspice -- all refreshing segues to Livingston’s dinner menu boasting small bites of duck confit sliders with cranberry jam and entrées of Delmonico steak with Parmesan truffle Yukon potato wedges and Low Country seafood boil.
Southern Art & Bourbon Bar
Classic, hip and with an air of Southern charm, acclaimed celebrity chef and restaurateur Art Smith’s Southern Art & Bourbon Bar in Buckhead woos diners with Southern-inspired cuisine and craft cocktails. Bar manager Jay Knox’s signature drinks and pairings include the Barrel Strength Princess Antebellum, strong with Four Roses Barrel Strength, Aperol, Fernet-Branca and peach bitters, and the perfect sidekick to Smith’s buttermilk fried chicken -- a dish that has garnered praise from Atlantans and A-listers like Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga. A small plate of fried green tomatoes with bacon goat cheese joins Volstead spiked with High West Double Rye while Georgia shrimp and grits with house-made andouille takes the bite out of the white manhattan spiked with moonshine and Luxardo Maraschino.
Inspired by Chinese dim sum and Brazilian churrascaria-style dining, the menu at Gunshow, chef Kevin Gillespie’s highly acclaimed restaurant in Glenwood Park, rotates weekly with dishes presented à la carte on rolling carts and trays for enthusiastic diners. One staple – the warm old-fashioned banana pudding reminiscent of the holiday dessert made by Gillespie’s great grandmother -- is always a crowd-pleaser, creamy with sliced bananas and vanilla pudding atop pound cake and peaked with golden meringue. Scope out cocktail cart conductor Mercedes O’Brien for a toasted old-fashioned warm with bourbon, bitters, burnt sugar, brûléed cinnamon and flamed orange.
White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails
In downtown, White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails lures guests with contemporary Southern cuisine and an impeccable craft cocktail program. Enjoy a respite with the signature seasonal lemonade in a jar. Revel in fall menu and cocktail pairings such as the Indian Summer-inspired pork belly plate composed of roasted carrots, bacon butter braised chanterelles and an earthy carrot dashi purée joined by The Old Peachtree spiked with 1816 Chattanooga Whiskey and hints of peach and smoked rosemary. Beignets laden with Brunswick, Ga., rock shrimp and served with local pickled veggies pair nicely with The Stillhouse, combining 1816 Chattanooga Whiskey, grapefruit juice and basil simple syrup while the fruity blackberry sage old fashioned tames the bold flavors of chef de cuisine Christian Perez’s coffee- and ancho chili-rubbed steak.
Karen Lopez writes for Atlanta Now magazine.