Best Bar

It’s not often a bartender has to explain the difference between riblets and rillettes, but at Old Glory, it happens. People expecting tiny ribs are not thrilled when lamb pâté arrives, so the staff kindly clarifies, and that shows their priorities: serve delicious, innovative fare, but first, make your guests comfortable.

The drinks are a good start. The Big Pink — French aperitif wine, grapefruit and Aperol (bitter orange, rhubarb) — is insanely drinkable and must make for ideal “Woo!” Juice for every bachelorette party two-stepping through. The Parker (double rye; herbaceous, citrusy liqueurs) is a manlier affair reminiscent of the smoothest Old Fashioned. The Jack Horse is any spirit plus Amaro Averna and house-made ginger beer, which is earthier, spicier and more invigorating than anything from a bottle.

The speakeasy-like lack of signage at Old Glory is purely accidental. They couldn’t decide on a logo, so they opened without a sign — and it attracted so much buzz that they rolled with it. The space was originally the boiler room for a 1920s dry cleaning plant, and the team has retained that feel: a coal chute above the bar, a huge exhaust pipe in the center, local ironwork. Green vines are planted on one wall, crawling upward to large windows at the top, which let in light in the afternoon but as night falls, give way to a darker, moodier vibe for drinks in cozy booths. Around midnight? Dance club. The sleepy spot you came to for happy hour is dialed up to 11 with a DJ, plenty of thumping music, and an aerialist or two spinning from the ceiling on big occasions like Halloween. 

The food is absurdly good for a place equipped with a smoker and two hot plates. The lamb rillettes with Vietnamese pickled veggies and hot mustard are a salty, meaty bite that stands up to strong drinks. The stracciatella, stretched and shredded Italian buffalo cheese, is served with olive oil and dukka (a nutty Egyptian condiment). Luscious and smearable, it’s like a messy, herby, more complex burrata. 

Two years in, Old Glory is as impressive for what it’s not trying to be as for what it is, and the way they make each drink says it all: in less than three minutes with no tweezers, suspenders or fuss. Nashville is awash in craft cocktail places, but at Old Glory, they’re not precious or condescending about it, and that’s as refreshing as any drink they pour. ASHLEY BRANTLEY

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