Ask a Local: An Atlanta Bartender's Favorite Bars in the City
What’s the best way to find the coolest bars in a city? Ask a bartender! I chatted with Victor Stopeck, bartender at popular Atlanta restaurant JCT. Kitchen & Bar to get the scoop. Born and raised in Atlanta, Stopeck has witnessed the city’s food and drink scene skyrocket into the bustling entity that it is today. A veteran bartender with more than 20 years in the game, he has not only created boozy magic in Atlanta, but also abroad, mixing it up in the Caribbean for ten years before heading back to the city that he calls home. From his default spot for a beer, to his favorite bar for a rum cocktail, check out some of Stopeck’s go-to haunts for a top-notch drink in the great city of Atlanta.
For After-Work Drinks
I usually like to go somewhere very close to work like Little Trouble. I don’t stay long because it gets a little clubby the later it gets and I’m a laid back guy, but the drinks are great. I also like Marcel. It’s a really good old school classic bar. They have comfortable bar stools and the scene is a little more mature for me. I go to The Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Little 5 Points if I want a beer and I’ve had a nice day.
For Brunch Cocktails
Highland Tap. I enjoy their brunch. They make a really good Bloody Mary. It’s nice and dark in there and it’s really good for Sunday brunch after a long Saturday night.
When I’m in the Mood for Rum
Kimball House has a good beverage program. Miles Macquarrie (co-owner/bar manager) really knows his stuff. They have really good rum cocktails, the oysters are great and they are open late.
For a Glass of Wine
Murphy’s. They have a great wine program. They know what they’re doing and it’s very versatile. They have a lot of different wines there that I’ve never had before. Also JCT Kitchen, where I work, has a great wine program. There are wines there that I had never heard of until we got them, and I’ve grown to really like them. They even have a great rosé piquepoul that is awesome and I’ve yet to find anywhere else.
For Date Night
I have two small children so sometimes they are more like date days. For our anniversary, my wife and I went to Ponce City Marketfor the first time and walked around then went across the street to 4th and Swift for dinner, cocktails and and a lot of wine. It was a lot of fun.
A lot of times our date days will be in Downtown Decatur because we live in Scottdale. I like Leon’s Full Service. It’s a great place to get a cocktail and a quick burger because they don’t close before dinner. We also enjoy The Iberian Pig for drinks.
Word of Advice for first-time visitors
The beverage programs have grown and grown in the past five to six years. When I started bartending 20 years ago, there were no beverage programs in Atlanta. There were only beers and shots, so it has evolved. I put us up there with New York, Chicago and LA. Atlanta is a lot of little neighborhoods put together so I recommend going to downtown Decatur, parking and just walking. Find a place that you think looks cool and go in because it probably is cool. Go to The Highlands, Inman Park or Little 5 Points. Midtown has so many great areas in a small radius. Find an area that you like and get comfortable with that area, then start going to other places. Atlanta is a great town and there is no other place that I’d rather live.