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VOL. 7 | NO. 50 | Saturday, December 6, 2014

Festive Drinks and Fun Venues


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A number of new places opened in Nashville this year, bringing a bevy of new bourbons, crafted brews and incredible places to sit, relax and sip. If you are looking for more than a meal and want that genuine, trendy Nashville experience, here are a few hot spots.

City Winery (609 Lafayette St., 324-1010, citywinery.com) opened this fall, an international brand based out of New York that combines a winery with a music venue, and it appeals to a more sophisticated crowd – perfect for bringing the parents when they come to visit or for spending an energetic, but relatively low-key evening with someone special.

A VIP Lounge can be rented for private events, and the food is on par with the upscale pub grub that is becoming more and more the norm. Forget onion rings and fries – unless they are the gluten-free truffle fingerling frites with crispy prosciutto, parmesan and garlic aioli – and go straight for the short rib and pimento cheese stuffed crispy risotto balls with cilantro pesto. Another popular menu item is the “Nash” onion soup with Kenny’s horseradish cheddar and smoked bone marrow.

For those looking for something with a bit more history, check out Marathon Music Works Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery (1414 Clinton St., 913-8800, greenbrierdistillery.com), which also just opened its doors to tastings and tours. The distillery was one of the three largest in the state in 1885, producing 380,000 gallons of whiskey, but never returned to making their “Nelson’s Best” after prohibition squeezed them dry.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Marathon Village offers tastings and tours.

(Sarah Lee/ Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery)

Originally established in 1867, the Green Brier name and its Belle Meade Bourbon have been brought back by brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson, the great-great-great-grandsons of founder Charles Nelson.

Recently opened in the reborn Melrose development is Fenwick’s 300 (2600 Franklin Pike #103, 840-6462, fenwicks300.com), joining new favorite, Sinema, and the reopened Sutler as the area continues to be transformed.

Fenwick’s 300 is the diner concept from Bongo Java’s Bob Bernstein and his first full-service restaurant. The casual space is full of tasty vegetarian options and breakfast is served all day.

And what about The Sutler (2600 Franklin Pike #109, 840-6124, thesutler.com) – that old favorite?

Yep, it’s back. So for any loved ones who remember it back from in its heyday who are visiting for the holidays, take them by for nostalgia and some tasty bites.

Owners Austin Ray (M.L. Rose Craft Beer and Burgers) and Joe Parkes reimagined the original concept, expanded the craft beer and cocktail menu and Nashville-style cuisine. The basement has a speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounge.

The original Sutler was opened in 1976 by country radio personality Johnny Potts, and it operated for 30 years. Part venue, part restaurant, and part dive bar, the Sutler was a social hub that hosted everyone from Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle to Emmylou Harris, and Johnny Cash.

Of course, sometimes you need to book a big space or are required to attend a work function somewhere off site. You’re in luck if the party is being held at this new place, The Bell Tower (400 4th Avenue S., 369-6474, thebelltower.com). Located in a 140-year-old church, the facility has been transformed into a premiere event and concert venue.

Many of the historic features of the church remain, including exposed beams and brick. It’s owned by Brett James, and the project came together through with assists from Infinity Events and Catering (Bridge Building Event Spaces, Premiere Caterer for Belle Meade Plantation, Harding House at The Belle Meade Plantation, Bria Bistro Italiano)

An upper mezzanine and balcony lounge is perfect for cocktails or entertaining VIP guests, and there is a tasting room featuring more than 100 varieties of bourbon, scotch and whiskey. And of course, bells in the tower can be perfectly timed for special moments.

Showstoppers and showboats
The Rockettes’ Nashville finale may be a sentimental choice for the family, even if you’ve seen it before. Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes (www.radiocity.com/events/2014/rccs-nashville-2014.html) is at the Opry House in its last year in Music City.

Tickets are going fast for the final weeks of performances as people realize that after 13 years of high kicks, the sparkly spectacle is saying goodbye – and isn’t expected to return. After all, seeing the leggy ladies all transform into reindeers for Santa’s sleigh is a must.

You could also enjoy a Christmas cruise down the Cumberland River aboard the General Jackson Showboat (2812 Opryland Drive, 458-3900, generaljackson.com), one of the largest showboats in the country. Performances, chef-prepared meals and beautiful views await the whole family during the holiday cruises.

The Heart of Christmas Dinner Show features a Victorian stage performance and a six-piece show band plays all of the holiday favorites. During the midday cruise, look for dueling fiddles and a performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.’’

Of course, nothing says Nashville like some of our historic homes, each with its own sense of purpose and place.

During the holidays, many of them are decked out in incredible seasonal finery and open for tours. The Victorian-era Belmont Mansion (1700 Acklen Ave., 460-5459, belmontmansion.com) offers tours, and The Hermitage (4580 Rachel’s Lane, 889-2941, thehermitage.com) has several special holiday exhibits to explore, including their confectionary Christmas showcase.

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