When you hear a bartender say “This is a place I go to for good drinks,” you listen. On a recent trip to Savannah, GA we heard these words while sitting in a scotch bar (they had a relatively nice bourbon selection as well) near City Market. That is why at ten minutes to five, the next evening we were standing outside the doors to The Alley Cat Lounge, waiting for it to open. We were not the only ones.
Yes, the entrance is actually in an alley. Go down the stairs, and it opens into a nice, small, cozy space with bar, booths and tables and a room for larger parties. It doesn’t hold a lot of people, about 70 or 80, I believe, and it didn’t take long to fill up. The term “speakeasy” gets used too much these days, and The Alleycat Lounge has been referred as such. Maybe because of the old brick walls and basement location. But what a great atmosphere.
Behind the bar, over 400 bottles of spirits. It is not a bourbon bar. A spirits bar would be a better description. There are over 70 bourbons and ryes, 55 rums, 40 gins, tequilas, Irish, Japanese and scotch whiskeys, wine, ports, beers and over 100 different cocktails. Want a liquor punch bowl? They do that too.
The menu, printed like a newspaper is 32 pages. A full list of their spirits, cocktails, beer, and full of quotes, stories, and pictures. In itself, the menu is quite an attraction. Spirit prices in the menu are for a two-ounce pour. You can, however, get a one-ounce “shot” for half price. This allows those who desire to try some different spirits. There is no food to speak of although they do offer a complimentary cheese and meat plate.
The evening we visited, one of the owners, Scott Marshall, was behind the bar. It seemed like he was always in motion, making cocktails, pouring drinks, making sure everything was running smoothly. The bartenders make some great cocktails, and you can see the pride they take in their work. While there, we watched Scott make a Chatham Artillery Punch for 20 people. He is a whirlwind of activity, but in all of it, he kept up a lively conversation with those of us at the bar. It was undeniable that he has a huge passion for what he is doing. He certainly brings to life their motto, “We don’t serve drinks or food we serve people.” This passion was evident throughout the rest of the staff as well.
During our visit, I was able to try three different one ounce pours of bourbon, Blade and Bow, E. H. Taylor Barrel Proof and Old Foresters Birthday Bourbon 2016. Bourbons I had either not tasted before or are hard to find. My wife, Patti, had a Sazerac, which she said was as good as she had tasted. So, she ordered another one. All the while we and the others at the bar carried on a lively and wide-ranging conversation with Scott.
As I said, we were referred here by a bartender at another bar. There were other locals at the bar while we were there. If you are in Savannah and looking for a great spirits bar check this place out. You can look at their menu online. Note, however, that this menu was from last fall when they opened, and there is a new edition out now. If you don’t see something on the menu, you might ask the bartender if they have what you are thinking about. While we were there, Scott told us he had just returned from Kentucky and had a few new bottles he brought back with him.
We will certainly be back to the Alley Cat Lounge on our next trip to Savannah.
Lee’s bourbon journey started with one mistaken gulp of bourbon and coke as an eight-year-old. While bourbon was always part of his life, Lee followed a beer, wine path for the most part until a bartender poured him a taste of Buffalo Trace about ten years ago. It was at that point Lee’s love of bourbon really took off. Not only does Lee enjoy a good pour of bourbon but he is more than willing and excited to talk about it. Lee believes that bourbon, and for that matter all spirits, is enhanced by the experience of good company, good conversation and good bars. The combination leads to great stories. Say hi to him when you see him. Lee lives in Leesburg, VA, with his wife, best friend, and drinking partner, Patti. You might find her having a bourbon as well. Both Lee and Patti like to read mystery thrillers and travel. Most likely the travel leads to visits to new bars. Read Lee's full profile.