It came as a surprise to me one day to learn we have no bars in Nashville. That is to say, there is no proverbial hole in the wall in which we can walk in, slam down a silver dollar, throw back a shot and then be on our merry way. It’s just not legal to do that in Davidson County. What the law says is this: Whenever you sell beer, wine or liquor to the drinking public, you must also serve food. “We don’t define what that meal is,” says Pat Craddock, the longtime executive director of the Metro Beer Board. “But you can’t have just a bar.”
This must come as frustrating to those of us intrigued by the romance of the bar. After all, a bar is many things. It is the long, wooden slab upon which one plants one’s elbows after a long day and watches the worries fly out the window. It is the banter with the bartender, whose advice beats the therapist’s every time. It is the hideaway, the last resort, the 19th hole, the home away from home, the slippery slope and so much more.
Now, in spite of the law, it should not be misunderstood that there are no bars at all. In fact, there are many fine bars situated within our many restaurants, next to them, around them. There are hundreds of them, in fact.
For those of us interested in quantifying this city’s drinking habits, the Metro Beer Boardwhich oversees only the sale of beersays approximately 1,200 establishments sell beer here. That includes restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and the like. As for liquor and wine, sales of which are overseen by the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Commission757 establishments are engaged in their sale.
Business is obviously healthy. That said, no one ever doubted this city’s drinking enthusiasm. It goes without saying that we encourage you to imbibe responsibly. And before this afternoon’s drink, have a look at some of the city’s unique offerings in local bars, restaurants and wine stores.