There are more than 20 bars within a mile of each other in downtown Augusta. They are, for the most part, located on Broad Street, the main thoroughfare that runs parallel to the Savannah River before heading west toward Augusta National. A few are scattered on side streets but all are easy walks from one another.
The real joy of Broad Street is exploration and discovery – finding that perfect perch for a drink with friends, perhaps some bar snacks or, as is often the case this time of year, a spot to rehash a little tournament action.
With that in mind, The Commission on Nightlife here at Pop Rocks World Headquarters will not attempt an exhaustive list of Broad Street bars. Instead, we offer this primer – a quick glance at a few notable spots to get your evening’s adventure started.
SOUL BAR – For many, this is the Alpha and Omega of Augusta bars. Opened when Broad Street was a forgotten avenue decimated by mall culture, it is often credited with starting the downtown renaissance. Once the occasional clubhouse for the Godfather it honors, Soul Bar is still stacked high with James Brown memorabilia.
SKY CITY – The live music venue features a large bar in front and a well-situated performance area in back. A popular stop for both touring club acts and local bands, Sky City is a true destination for music fans.
HIVE GROWLER BAR – An expansive and constantly rotating selection of wines, beers, cocktails and gourmet sodas make the 78 tap Hive a natural stop for those feeling fairly thirsty. That said, it would be a crime to stop by and not order some from the kitchen. My recommendation – a plate of poutine and perhaps a pretzel.
CRAFT & VINE – Fashioned after the speakeasies of old, this bar and restaurant takes a decidedly artistic approach to cocktail construction. Even something as simple a spirits and soda become an event in the hands of the Craft staff, but check the menu of specialty drinks for something truly spectacular.
THE EAGLE’S NEST – There’s something particularly special about a hotel bar – a certain anonymity not enjoyed in other establishments. This is particularly true at the Nest, perched high atop the Ramada Inn. It feels a little forgotten sometimes, which makes the views it offers of downtown, the river and South Carolina beyond all the more spectacular.
THE SPORTS CENTER – A true dive and rightfully proud of it, the Sports Center is not the place you go for a quiet cocktail. It is not, in fact, the place you go for any cocktail. You go for beer. Beer served in large fishbowl goblets the likes of which have not regularly been seen in decades. And while you’re there, try one of the burgers many locals consider the very best in town.
STILLWATER TAPROOM – Warm wood, plentiful taps and the occasional Americana act on a small stage at the front of this long and narrow bar make Stillwater feel like a place that has existed for generations as a hub for locals. While a romantic notion, it in fact opened several years ago and quickly became a mainstay for people looking for little else than a friendly place to meet and greet.
DR. UNK’S DIVE BAR – This sort of medically-themed bar is probably still a little too new and clean to be considered a real dive. In fact, it’s vibe is really more sports bar than anything else – which is fine. Fans of that demographic have been underserved (so to speak) on Broad Street for years. For them, this certainly makes a welcome change.
METRO A COFFEE HOUSE AND PUB – Perk up in the morning and wind down at night. Opened in 2000, this favorite spends its days serving cups of joe to the bleary eyed and evenings dishes out drink that ensure those same customers will return for more coffee the next day. That, my friends, is called the circle of life. Metro has also, in recent years, become a regular stop for loose sets by some of Augusta’s finest musicians.