The Public House in Knoxville. Photo by Clay Duda.TOP BAR
Public House
It’s hard to believe that it was only four years ago when this brave little-bar-that-could opened its doors on Magnolia just a block away from the bus station. It was an area, one imagined, that was ill-suited for up-market cocktails and gourmet nosh. And yet, once again, Public House takes top honors in our poll. It’s a place that relies on the quality of drink and good company to keep you coming back as there are no electronics or live acts to distract you from real conversation. Of course, the nonpareil selection of bar snacks (that include some of the city’s best hot dogs) is a major draw, too. Public House Sunday Suppers attract a seriously epicurean crowd who relish good food with great drink. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Sapphire, Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern

Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria
Yet again, this Old City stalwart proves that you can’t have too many beers. With 96 on tap and plenty more in the bottle, the froth runs deep and wide and makes Knoxville’s drinkers a hoppy bunch. That’s especially true on Tuesday’s Pint Night when draft beer is half price. Barley’s popular pizza and regular commitment to great live music help make all those beers taste even better. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Central Flats & Taps, Sunspot

cover_1020_beardenbeermarketShawn Poynter

Bearden Beer Market
The popularity of this place speaks volumes about the growth of beer culture and the proliferation, and commitment, of beer aficionados in our city. It’s not air-conditioned because, mostly, it’s not inside, yet beer lovers flock to this big patio/beer garden along with their dogs, their friends, and their thirst whatever the weather. The beer board is always full of noteworthy selections on tap that you can sip while contemplating the vast supply of kegs and bottles to take home. The beer market is also a center for the Active Beer Culture that combines froth and fitness in a weekly run to help you earn your beer—should you need a reason. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, Hops and Hollers

cover_1020_peterkernlibraryClay Duda

Peter Kern Library
Had Colonel Mustard been in this library he would have dropped that wrench and ordered Miss Scarlet a cocktail. Downtown’s uber-classy and bookish speakeasy features well-crafted and correctly presented classic cocktails as well as unusual and delicious concoctions crafted by inventive mixologists. The atmosphere is cozy, the space is intimate, even snug, and it can be hard to find a seat on one of the bar’s comfy couches. But the swank feel that you get while sipping a properly fashioned Old Fashioned is well worth the wait. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Public House, Sapphire

Pilot Light
It’s not just Knoxville’s favorite small music venue—the venerable Old City hole in the wall Pilot Light, headquarters for the local underground etc. rock scene, is open most evenings, whether there’s a show or not. Sometimes there’s an early comedy set or a film screening, but sometimes it’s just a good time to sidle up to the bar for a beer (the selection’s bigger than you think), some tunes—ranging from obscure to classic, as selected by the staff—and some conversation you’re unlikely to get anywhere else in town. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Marie’s Old Town Tavern, Toot’s Little Honky Tonk
See Also: Top Rock Club, in Music & Nightlife

Downtown Grill & Brewery
Sometimes it’s just best to let the numbers speak: 4 p.m.—8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. That’s when this Gay Street watering hole gets its award-winning Happy Hour on. And it’s time that’s filled with activity—music, trivia, poker—and drink specials that draw a wide demographic of savvy tipplers who can spot a good time at a fair price from miles away. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Balter Beerworks, Sapphire

cover_1020_craftybastardScott Hamstead

Crafty Bastard
This Emory Place nanobrewery stands out from the rest of Knoxville’s craft-brew class of 2015 not just for the quality of its beer but also for its imagination and fearlessness. Where else in Knoxville will you find locally brewed porter with cacao nibs and toasted coconut, chile beer, or a saison infused with gin? Count on finding at least one surprise on tap every time you visit. Visit often enough, and you might find something you’ll remember for years. (M.E.)
Popular Picks: Alliance Brewing Co., Saw Works

Bob’s Liquor & Wine
For years, Bob’s has dominated polls about potent potable purchasing opportunities—and this year the streak continues. The store is packed to the gills with libations you never even knew you needed or thought that you could afford—Bob claims he has almost 5,000 labels to tempt your thirst. Pricing, service, selection, and sales continue to make this bottle shop a destination not just for Knoxvillians but for East Tennesseans far and wide. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Ashe’s, McScrooge’s

Knox Whiskey Works
For Tennesseans who recall old relatives who were intimately acquainted with revenooers, it’s funny to see moonshine and other spirits being distilled in public at all, let alone right downtown. And yet Knox Whiskey Works operates its stills right there where God and everybody can see them on West Jackson Avenue. It is, in fact, the city’s first legal distillery (at least, they say, in the modern era) and produces an already acclaimed line of spirits. Corn whiskey may be the flagship product, but tasters have high praise for Jackson Ave Gin and Old City Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur. Don’t believe it? Go visit and taste for yourself. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Ole Smoky, Sugarlands Distilling Co.

cover_1020_fieldhousesocialScott Hamstead

Fieldhouse Social
There may be many things to like about the University Commons, but it’s the Fieldhouse Social with the largest TV screen in the Southland and the comfy chairs that come along with it that make this brownfield development a truly happy place for sports lovers and their adoring fans. It’s a comfortable and open space with lots of TV, cold beer, and creative drinks—heck, they even serve Jell-o shots for special occasions. And, of course, there’s good snacking here—they have fine fish and chips, burgers and the like, but there’s also a surprising kale and cabbage salad. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Rooster’s, Soccer Taco

Old City Wine Bar
Cheerfully ensconced on Jackson Avenue behind the Jig and Reel, the Old City Wine Bar tempts the palate with over 48 wines by the glass and 150 bottles. The offerings include an excellent variety of labels and grape varieties from across the world’s vineyards, from Alsace to Yakima. Its popularity isn’t founded on selection alone—that many wines can overwhelm all but the most intense oenophile—the wine bar is staffed with folks who know and love their wine list and are eager to help you fall in love with it, too. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: drink., Knoxville Uncorked & Cru Bistro & Wine Bar (tie)

Bistro by the Tracks
If you’re looking for a really good glassware collection, Bistro by the Tracks has it—and it’s proof positive that this restaurant cares a lot about wine. The wines that they serve in those excellent glasses come from a well-curated list of selections that run the gamut of style, flavor, and price, and it’s the combination of care and variety that make this a destination spot for oenophiles. You’ll find classics from Piedmont, the Rhone, and Oporto as well values from the Mosel, Marlborough, and Minervois, too. It’s also a place where service is professional, but friendly—so you’ll feel comfortable whether you’re having the house white or a first-growth Bordeaux. (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Cru Bistro & Wine Bar, Knoxville Uncorked

Ashe’s Wines & Spirits
Wine service in Knoxville has never been better, and much of the credit for that goes to Ashe’s and its proprietor, Thad Cox. Cox and company have been tireless and knowledgeable advocates for oenological appreciation since a long time before it was cool to swirl, sniff, and sip from your own set of Riedel glasses. The store’s selection is always full of well-chosen values and the cream of the vinous crop, and wine lovers trust Ashe’s well-trained staff to help them find the right bottle. Shopping, education, and wine all in one spot—what’s not to cheer? (D.P.)
Popular Picks: Bob’s, Downtown Wine + Spirits