Enjoying a libation and a little solitude: it's a lost art that, when done correctly, can be a rather pleasant way to spend an hour or two—and doesn't always have to end in tears, shame and telltale smears of buffalo wing sauce. But one doesn't merely join the leagues of moody novelists and George Thorogood without some planning. In honor of Valentine's Day, we give you a few suggestions on where and how to sip solo in the city without looking like a lost little lamb:
Literary libating. Curling up to a good book in a cozy chair is a pleasure revered by many—but a book in one hand and a glass of red in the other? Might be just the thing to make all that curling even more enjoyable. Thanks to a few cafes who add wine and beer to their rotation, this doesn't have to mean smuggling your Franzia into the library. Pulling up a chair at the bohemian Carroll Street Cafe bar (and the tapas menu) with a worn paperback in tow and a good glass of vino at the ready can be one of ATL's most pleasant ways to kill a couple hours. The couches and the beer list at Park Grounds make a dangerously comfortable combination (just be sure to bring headphones to drown out potential dog-barking). And while some coffee shops around town might feel a little too chaotic, Java Vino's living room atmosphere (and handy roster of organic wines) makes for a perfect spot to catch up with your buddy Hemingway.
Finishing your novel (or browsing Reddit, but we won't tell). Rare is the establishment where one can enjoy a grown-up beverage and crack open their laptop without wary glances and bad Wi-Fi. But more and more coffee shops are catching on to the beauty of the alcohol license (hey, that Great American Novel ain't going to write itself sober). Bustling cafes like Octane Westside and Inman Perk are just as picky about their beer list as they are their coffee, which means you can alternate between the two while doing... whatever it is that you're doing on there. And if you need a little extra shot of inspiration, head to Condesa, where boozy cocktails like Sazeracs and Corpse Revivers are poured right alongside the espressos. For best results: drink both.
Chatting up the bartender. When it comes to drinking solo, the person behind the bar can make or break the whole experience. Snooty mixologists might give you the stink eye if you ask for the wrong drink (don't even think about whipping out that book) and generally elicit a fight or flight response from your frightened temporal lobe. But killing time chatting up a friendly bartender? Might be one of the best arguments against stranger danger we know. We always like talking with the folks pouring our Spiritual Sangria at Sister Louisa's Church (after all, they are Sister Louisa's acolytes), and the guys at Cypress Street have the uncanny ability to make you laugh and stuff your face full of beer-knowledge all at once.
Having a beer with your BFF, dawg. No, not the human kind. Sure, you can't really chat him up about what happened on Walking Dead last weekend or why you can't seem to get a date, but kicking it with your dog and a cold beer is one of life's great pleasures. Our top pick for said activity has to be Park Grounds, where you can grab a beer and toss a tennis ball for your pup in the cafe's dog park. Then there's The Midway, where a dog-friendly patio makes for an excellent setting to enjoy one of the best beer lists in Atlanta.
People-watching (and possibly feeling better about yourself in the process). Forget the book, the dog, the laptop. Forget even talking to anyone. There are a couple spots in Atlanta that are front-row seats to some seriously top-notch, Oscar-worthy people-watching. Saddle up to the bar at Trader Vic's, poke your straw in a hideous mug of rum, and bask in the floral-printed fanny-packed goodness of tourists getting sloshed off of the alcoholic equivalent of liquid pixie sticks. (Bonus points if you show up during DragonCon or Furry Weekend.) Better yet, find a good vantage point at Johnny's Hideaway and settle in to watch the cougar carnage (just don't you dare take that drink out on the dance floor). Warning: you may or may not wake up smelling like White Diamonds.