If you like to have a good time, you’re in the right place. Savannah is known for its heavy year-round schedule of festivals, many of them outdoors, as well as its copious variety of watering holes hosting a diverse range of local residents and adventurous visitors.
Savannah is a hard-drinking town, and not just on St. Patrick’s Day. The ability to legally walk downtown streets with beer, wine, or a cocktail in hand definitely contributes to the overall joie de vivre. Bars close in Savannah at 3am, a full hour later than in Charleston. A citywide indoor smoking ban is in effect, and you may not smoke cigarettes in any bar in Savannah.
Bars and Pubs in Savannah
Rocks on the Roof: One of the best hotel bars in the city is Rocks on the Roof, atop the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront on the waterfront. In good weather the exterior walls are opened up to reveal a large wraparound seating area with stunning views of downtown on one side and of the Savannah River on the other.
Top Deck Bar: One of the better rooftop bars in Savannah, the Top Deck crowns the Cottonsail Hotel, itself in a restored waterfront warehouse. The bar area wraps around the whole roof, giving great views of both the Savannah River and downtown, depending on where you’re sitting.
Chuchills: Solid British pub-style food and decor is paired with old-school taps and cocktails at this Bay Street institution. There’s a rooftop bar up top for those who want some fresh air.
Moon River Brewing Company offers a menu of handcrafted beers in a rambling old space that housed Savannah’s first hotel back in pre-Civil War days. The particular highlight these days, however, is the dog-friendly enclosed beer garden, with frequent live music and a congenial alfresco atmosphere, as well as access to the full menu.
In the City Market area, your best bet is The Rail Pub, one of Savannah’s oldest and most beloved taverns. This multifloor spot is a great place to get a pint or a shot or do karaoke in a quite boisterous but still cozy environment. You’ll receive roasted peanuts with your drink; just let the shells fall on the floor like everyone else does.
In the modernist Andaz Savannah hotel overlooking bustling Ellis Square, 22 Square is a great place for an upscale cocktail and for meeting interesting people from all over. Try the refreshing Savannah Fizz or one of their mean Sazeracs.
A great shaded patio is the highlight of Congress Street Social Club, a popular hangout with several bar areas both inside and out, and occasional live music. Grab some late-night eats from the hot dog grill in the courtyard.
Historic District North
No, Lincoln Street in Savannah isn’t named for Abraham Lincoln. But dark, fun little Abe’s is on Lincoln Street, and it’s also the oldest bar in town, with a very eclectic clientele and a good, dog-friendly patio area.
For swank partying on Broughton Street, head to Chive Sea Bar and Lounge, which backs up its tasty menu with a high-end bar in a wonderful, modernist space.
Circa 1875 is a hip hangout with an excellent menu—the burgers are as good as the martinis. The vintage vibe takes you back to the days of the Parisian salons.
Without question, the place in Savannah that comes closest to replicating an authentic Irish pub environment is tiny, cozy O’Connell’s, where they know how to pour a Guinness, feature Magners cider on tap, and the house specialty is the “pickleback”—a shot of Jameson’s followed by a shot of, yes, pickle brine. In classic Emerald Isle tradition, most seating is bench-style, to encourage conversation.
Historic District South
For 65 years, perhaps Savannah’s most beloved dive bar has been the Original Pinkie Master’s. For decades this has been a gathering place for local politicos; according to local lore, this is where President Jimmy Carter stopped during his visit for St. Patrick’s Day (even though he’s a teetotaler). The kitschy dive bar motif is replete with historic memorabilia.
The rooftop bar on top of the boutique Perry Lane Hotel, Peregrin was the first of the wave of rooftop bars crowning Savannah hotels in the past decade and is arguably still the best. The views are fantastic, the bar scene top-notch, and the location of the hotel itself is central. Fair warning: Peregrin is very popular with the bachelorette parties that are a fixture of downtown Savannah, so there may be a line at the ground floor elevator to get up there.
The real hipsters hang out in ironic fashion drinking PBRs at the American Legion Bar, located in, yes, an actual American Legion post. While the Legionnaires themselves are a straitlaced patriotic bunch, the patrons of “the Legion,” as the bar is colloquially known, tend toward the counterculture. That said, in a clear nod to tradition, no profanity or public displays of affection are allowed. Fun historical fact: The building housing the Legion was the birthplace of the U.S. 8th Air Force during World War II.
The signature development in the Starland District, a historic dairy repurposed into an entertainment zone, is the ambitious Starland Yard. This multiuse space, framed by old shipping containers, features a large bar area, a pizza restaurant, cornhole, patio areas, and a rotating schedule of visiting food trucks. There’s no cover fee, but you’ll need to show your ID and set up a tab with your credit or debit card to enter. Then when you’re done, you check out via the stored card. The crowd here tends toward the preppy side.
A cozy, delightful, mostly-locals hangout in the up-and-coming Starland District, Lone Wolf Lounge focuses on artisanal cocktails—probably the best in the city—and conversational opportunities both at the bar and at surrounding table space. The vibe is wood-paneled kitsch, with adventure movies on the flat screen.
The retro tiki bar craze has officially hit Savannah with Water Witch Tiki Bar in the Starland District area. The decor is as over-the-top as you’d expect. The cocktails run the gamut, from the signature Water Witch (a rum and whiskey cocktail) to the classic zombie.
LGBTQ Bars in Savannah
Any examination of LGBTQ nightlife in Savannah must, of course, begin with Club One Jefferson of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame. Come for the famous drag shows upstairs in the cabaret or the rockin’ 1,000-square-foot dance floor downstairs. Cabaret showtimes are Thursday-Saturday 10:30pm and 12:30am, Sunday 10:30pm, and Monday 11:30pm.
Live Music and Karaoke in Savannah
Despite the retro disco ’70s vibe, the live music acts at El Rocko Lounge (City Market) tends more toward indie, punk, and shoegaze rock. For beverages, go straight for one of their signature premixed cocktails, such as the Scorpion Tea.
Savannah’s undisputed karaoke champion is McDonough’s (Historic District South), an advantage compounded by the fact that a lot more goes on here than karaoke. The kitchen at McDonough’s is quite capable, and many locals swear you can get the best burger in town here. Despite the sports-bar atmosphere, the emphasis is on the karaoke, which ramps up every night at 9:30pm.