There’s no better way to ring in the summer than with a bar crawl along the city’s greenest attraction, the Beltline.
This former rail corridor on the outskirts of Atlanta’s central core eventually will become a 22-mile paved pedestrian loop connecting the city’s hottest neighborhoods. For now, gather your crew for a walkable cocktail tour along the completed 2-mile paved stretch from Monroe Drive to Irwin Street, which boasts some of the best bars for sipping drinks on a sunny summer day.
The Mercury at Ponce City Market
Your first stop on our Tour de Cocktail? Ponce City Market. The sprawling, repurposed Sears building is now home to uber-spendy loft apartments, a multitude of trendy shops and a few of the city’s best restaurants and bars. Grab a to-go cocktail (aka roadie) upstairs from the Mercury to keep cool as you shop till you drop (or play a friendly round of rooftop mini golf when that attraction opens this summer). To keep from overheating, we suggest sipping on the light, bright Hummingbird, made with gin, fresh lime, a hint of sweetness from elderflower liqueur, mint and soda water for sparkle. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-900-7900, themercuryatl.com.
Victory Sandwich Bar
A short stroll up the Beltline, just beyond the Old Fourth Ward skate park, is a spur leading to the adjacent Freedom Park trail. No, this isn’t Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” It’s the road to boozy slushies and delicious tiny sandwiches. Grab a seat on the covered patio and order our favorite sandwich, the Castro, with smoked pork, ham and fontina cheese; a couple of bowls of the daily popcorn; and a Jack and Coke slushie. Everything tastes better in slushie form, and that includes this dive-bar-classic-meets-Slurpee-machine. While we could sit on Victory’s breezy patio all afternoon pounding icy J&Cs, you’ve got bars to see and cocktails to sip, so leave that adventure for another day. 913 Bernina Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-709-2892, vicsandwich.com.
After roadies and boozy slushies, you may be feeling a bit peaked. Take a short walk to the cafe at Parish for a caffeinated pit stop. While the upstairs brasserie has a full bar, the downstairs cafe offers sun worshipers a cool retreat from the searing sun with water and coffee. We know it’s not cocktails, but passing out from heat exhaustion and alcohol poisoning is no way to spend your weekend. 240 N. Highland Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-681-4434, parishatl.com.
Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall
Continue the search for cocktails at mile marker 9.25 and Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall. Inspired by America’s beautiful national parks, Ladybird specializes in campfire food and strong booze, perfect for enjoying with friends. The newly open “grove” expands Ladybird’s already sizable outdoor space to more than 4,000 square feet and includes Adirondack chairs for 120 loungers, pingpong, bocce ball and a vintage camper serving fireside cocktails. Sharing is caring, so circle those chairs and order one of the weekly punch selections to enjoy as a group. Soak up the booze with snacks like the Navajo fry bread with honey and country ham, and play a game of pingpong before you head to the tour’s final destination. 684 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-458-6838, ladybirdatlanta.com.
Superica at Krog Street Market
While you may have found Ponce City Market overwhelmingly large, this pocket-sized edition offers a multitude of tippling choices despite its modest square footage. We still love you oodles, Ticonderoga Club, but we can’t resist the pull of patio tacos and margaritas at Superica on a sunny day. Order the highly concentrated O.G., served up or on the rocks. Superica’s riff on the classic margarita uses a buttery, rich reposado tequila, a deceptively strong triple sec at 80-proof and fresh lime juice, which, tied together, makes this drink served with a side of tacos the perfect way to end your day crawling the Beltline and cheersing to friends and summer fun. 99 Krog St. N.E., Atlanta. 770-434-2400, krogstreetmarket.com.