10 spots: To have a great cocktail

Dram Whiskey Bar

by Jason Horn

Dram Whiskey Bar This refined Mountain Brook Village hangout has nearly 100 bourbons, Scotches, and other whiskies. They even infuse their own liquors: Cherry-flavored Woodford Reserve goes into the Manhattan, and bacon-flavored Early Times (yes, really) goes into the Smokehouse.
Bettola This Pepper Place spot makes some of the most authentic Italian food in town, but it also serves up really well-made cocktails. The Diversione, with Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and muddled pear, is quite possibly the best beverage in Birmingham.
2901 2nd Ave. S; 205-731-6499;
Bottega At any of Frank Stitt’s three restaurants, you can get a tasty drink. But this one strikes a nice balance between casual and fancy; pop in to Bottega Café for a delicious Orange Thing at its sizable bar, or make a reservation at Bottega and have a Negroni while you wait for your table.
2240 Highland Ave. S; 205-939-1000;
Veranda on Highland The bar at the New Orleans-inspired Veranda has its own name: Papa’s, after Ernest Hemingway. And the restaurant claims its signature drink, the Papa Doble, was one of the writer’s favorites: It’s a mix of rum, grapefruit, lemon, and grenadine.
2220 Highland Ave. S; 205-939-5551;
Blue Monkey Yes, many of the drinks on this Cobb Lane lounge’s extensive menu are of the too–sweet, neon–colored variety. But the bartenders here mix a very good plain ol’ Martini (order it the right way—with gin) and other classic cocktails.
1318 Cobb Lane.; 205-933-9222;
Sol y Luna Tequila is the order of the day at this Lakeview Mexican-tapas restaurant. There are almost four dozen different kinds of the agave spirit available, and the menu offers five different house Margaritas. My fave is the Puerto Vallarta, with tart tamarind pulp.
2811 7th Ave. S; 205-322-1186;
Jinsei Sushi The fancy SoHo Square sushi bar mixes up a range of tasty original cocktails, including six variations on the Mojito. The one with fresh mango and ginger is probably the best of the bunch.
1830 29th Ave. S, Ste. 125, Homewood; 205-802-1440
Little Savannah The Forest Park neighborhood bistro with a Southern accent offers a seasonally rotating menu of cocktails made from fresh ingredients. The original creations are named after everyone from Walker Percy (bourbon, cucumber, honey-violet syrup) to Ichabod Crane (Scotch, house-made bitters, roasted pumpkin puree).3811 Clairmont Ave.; 205-591-1119;
Café Dupont This refined downtown restaurant has quite possibly the best happy hour in town: Every Wednesday from 4:30 to 7, enjoy complimentary appetizers, drink specials, and 25 percent off food. The cocktail menu here is all the classics—Sazerac, Mint Julep, French 75—but skilled bartender Angela can accommodate any request.
113 20th St. N; 205-322-1282;
Black Market Bar With its biker-bar attitude, and drinks named Girlfriend in a Coma and She-Hulk, you might think this Colonnade bar isn’t focused on cocktail quality. But it actually has a pretty good selection of spirits, and if you can get over those names, some of the concoctions are quite good.
3411 Colonnade Pkwy.; 205-967-8787;

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