Alcohol Blankets: 4 Nashville Winter Drinking Adventures
If you took a single photo of a single Nashville tree during January, April, August, and October, you'd have a picturesque image of each season. As such, though Nashville is an undeniable part of the "Dirty South," new Nashvillians are often shocked by how cold it gets in winter. Never fear -- Nashville's got plenty of drinking adventures - unique, extreme bar-crawling adventures, no less - to warm you up.
Though Nashville is ever changing - when you drive into downtown on the highway, you'll see as many as 20 construction cranes hanging over the skyline - much of its nightlife retains a southern feel. Nashville has the (some would say) dubious honor of being America's #1 city for country music as well as America's #1 city for bachelorette parties. It's no surprise that there are plenty of bars and breweries spread throughout the city, and plenty of honky-tonks where you can sing your heart out to Shania Twain or The Artist Formerly Known as T-Swift after you've had a few too many.
Here are the 5 best ways to spend a Nashville winter's eve out on the town, where southern hospitality and alcohol - not as strange bedfellows as you'd think - will keep you warm no matter how cold it is outside.
Nashville Pedal Tavern
Pedal taverns are the scourge of Nashville traffic. And one of the city's most prosperous industries. Case in point: my friend works 12 hour days as a pedal tavern bartender. He makes over $60,000 a year.
From high noon 'til dawn, they crawl along downtown streets at a leisurely, unhurried pace. Most often, 8 women are peddling, wearing some sort of matching shirt that says "Bridesmaid," empty beer mugs held aloft, Spice Girls or Nicki Minaj or something similar belting from the stereo. If it's not a pedal tavern, it's a party barge.
That said, it's undeniably exhilarating, exciting, and (dare I say) intoxicating to ride a pedal tavern. Nashville Pedal Tavern allows you to book a whole bike bar for you and your seven best friends. Or for just yourself, your partner, and six soon-to-be best friends. Booking the whole shebang costs $440 for primetime hours, while individual seats are $38 per person. Each bar crawl lasts two hours, and the tavern itself comes stocked with ice, alcohol, games, music, and other goodies, all sherpa'd and MC'd by a certified NPT bartender.
During the tour, you'll have the opportunity to stop and take advantage of drink specials with Nashville Pedal Tavern's local partners. NPT offers four routes, each catering to a different type of adventurer. Want traditional bars and honky-tonks? The Broadway Tour is for you. Looking for a more upscale, trendy, nouveau riche option? Look no further than the Gulch/SoBro Tour. Not a huge fan of Bud Light or PBR? The Brewery Tour visits plenty of local craft breweries. Prefer a bit of history, country music, and dive bars? The Midtown Tour rolls right through Music Row, the record label hotbed immortalized on the TV soap opera Nashville.
So grab a friend, book a tour, and remember: drinking is just like riding a bike. And in the winter, having to bike while drinking will certainly keep your warm.
Karaoke at Santa's Pub and Tacos on Nolensville Pike
In winter, when the weather gets cold, children's thoughts traditionally turn to Santa Claus and Red Ryder BB Guns. In Nashville, over 21s think of Santa too.
Santa's Pub is a bit off the beaten path, owned and operated by - you guessed it - an older gentleman with a big white beard and his loving wife. The cash only, unapologetic dive bar offers karaoke every night starting at 7 p.m. as well as bottles of beer starting as low as two dollars.
Far from the tourist throngs that asphyxiate Broadway, Santa's is a true local spot. It's unpretentious to the core - it's housed in a converted trailer - and inside it's not much more than a bar, a few rooms, and a karaoke stage. If you're not in the mood to contend with a mass of bachelorette parties and enormous crowds, Santa's is an excellent alternative. It's even got a reputation for legendary New Years' Eve karaoke nights (sing "Sweet Caroline" for a big-time audience response).
After Santa's, be sure and head down nearby Nolensville Pike to any of the local taco trucks, which are always open until the wee hours. After a long night of brew and song, tacos are the perfect way to put a nightcap on a non-traditional yet still adventurous Nashville evening. El Tapatio is the best taco spot in the area.
A Nashville Predators hockey game, followed by barhopping on Broadway
NHLI via Getty Images
Though Nashville is smack in the heart of SEC football country, the local professional hockey team has stolen the city's heart in recent years. Predators games boast an incomparable in-game fan experience that plays on the city's country music roots at every turn - after each Preds goal, Tim McGraw begins to croon "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it" on the Jumbotron. The team is also quite good, winning a dramatic playoff series last year and bringing in a huge personality in All-Star P.K. Subban this past summer.
Just as importantly, the Predators' home ice, the Bridgestone Arena, is located right on Broadway, with immediate postgame access to the street's famous honky-tonks. During the winter in Nashville, with hockey season in full swing, Friday nights don't get better than a Preds game and barhopping on Broadway afterwards. Be sure to check out Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Acme Feed & Seed, and Robert's Western World.
Harry Potter Pub Crawl
As a generation of kids raised by J.K. Rowling's magical novels turn 21, many a millennial has nursed a pint of Butterbeer in Universal Studios. As more and more HP fanatics - fanatics who suddenly have real jobs and very real money - come of age, savvy business owners are finding ways to cash in, ensuring that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are never truly out of sight.
The Nashville bar scene is no different. Crawl 615 has fashioned its own version of a Harry Potter Pub Crawl, kicking off at the Tin Roof on Demonbreun - a favorite of Vanderbilt University undergrads - on January 7. Throughout the night, each crawl-goer is assigned to Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, or Slytherin. The houses then compete for prizes and gifts, with many clad in full wizard robes.
For $20, you get a beer cup, an official "acceptance letter" from Hogwarts, and your cover charge is waived at all of the bars. If you really want to go for it, an extra $30 gets you a wand - so that you can better yell
'Wingardium LevioSA' at your companions all night long - a t-shirt, and entrance to an after party.
If you love HP and company, and if you're not willing to pedal, the Potter Pub Crawl is an excellent, wintery, nostalgia-soaked drinking option in Music City.
Fernando Fuenlabrada has lived in Nashville, TN for a total of 20 years. He recently moved back to town, a bystander to the Great Nashville Boom.