Savannah, Georgia…The “Hostess City”. The city greets you with a cold, tall glass of sweet tea, a dollop of pimento cheese and a plastic cup for your cocktail. (More on the plastic cup later in this story)
Before arriving in this iconic city, I watched two movies. I just wanted to get into the Southern hospitality mood. Forest Gump and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Both watched on a rainy Virginia afternoon. They stirred the desire to walk under moss laden trees, to drink vintage cocktails and to sit on a park bench in a city square. Is Savannah really a quirky Southern town where everyone says “Y’all” and spreads whipped honey butter on thick slabs of cornbread? Well, yes it is. And so much more.
If you are planning a visit to Savannah, I have three tips. Book a hotel in the heart of the historic district, and bring a great pair of walking shoes. Tip #3 is to bring a group of friends because this city is fun to share with a group. One of the best ways to enjoy Savannah is on foot. Pick up a map and wander. Another option is to book a ticket on one of the Hop On & Off Trolleys that circle the city center. Your guide will point out the location of Forest Gump’s bench in Chippewa Square and the Mercer House from the cult-favorite movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Plus, history drips from this city like moss from the Live Oak trees. You will want to experience it all.
We enjoyed both sightseeing options. And we enjoyed both with a cocktail in a plastic cup. (Again, more on the plastic cups later)
Maybe it is the famous Southern ghost stories, the food, the crafted drinks, the shopping or just the charm that will lure you to Savannah. We experienced it all, in only four days. I always strive to write a story with a few twists. So, I picked two restaurants, a brewery, a distillery and a unique museum to include in this four-day visit. Each site with its own twist on a Southern story.
“Not Your Typical Dry Museum…Bringing the roaring twenties to life with our Intoxicating Exhibits & Authentic Speakeasy”
Our first stop was at the Prohibition Museum. This is a museum with interactive displays, characters in costume, a movie and even its own Speakeasy with an active bar. (Note that the bar does not serve alcohol on Sundays) Learn some American history while enjoying a vintage cocktail. You can even join a cocktail class and learn to make two prohibition era cocktails—recipes included in the experience. The self-guided museum tour ends in a retail store where you can purchase glassware, books, bar towels and Savannah collectables.
And this is where I learned the significance of the plastic cocktail cup. Visit any restaurant or bar in the city center, and you will see a stack of clear plastic cups by the exit. Want to finish your cocktail as you wander through the squares of Savannah? No problem. Just pour your cocktail into a plastic cup as you exit. Or you can order a cocktail, beer or glass of wine to go. A favorite to-go cup was a Savannah Peach Sangria, purchased at the City Market. Of course, no driving while enjoying your favorite to-go beverage.
I am a fan of a strong Southern menu. With this visit to Savannah, I strived to find restaurants with that extra twist of the unexpected. I searched for restaurants that take a classic Southern dish and add a surprise. I found those menu items at The Ordinary Pub and The Pirate House.
As you stroll the streets of the city center, you will note that Shrimp and Grits can be found on most menus. It’s a staple, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Thai fusion version of this popular dish at The Ordinary Pub wins my award for the most unique plate. Imagine this version of Shrimp and Grits: “Vegetable Pad Thai tossed in almond butter sauce, red pepper honey mustard sauce, sweet Sriracha syrup, stone ground Gouda cheese grits…topped with sautéed shrimp and Asian noodles
How about fried chicken and pimento cheese? Yes, please! Our group found both of these favorites at The Pirate House. Imagine fried chicken smothered in a honey pecan sauce. Or, how about a row of fried green tomatoes on a bed of homemade pimento cheese. As a bonus, this restaurant experience comes with a side of Savannah history. The restaurant is in a preserved seaman’s tavern that was allegedly built in 1794. It is said that the ghost of Captain Flint still haunts this house. We did not see a ghost, but we did see a pirate.
At Service Brewing Company, you can enjoy a crafted beer that’s Veteran Brewed and the company is Veteran Owned. Order a flight or a pint of this American-made beer. The brewery, and beer, is dedicated to honoring those that have put their lives at risk and their country and community first. During our visit, we enjoyed outdoor seating and live bluegrass music. We enjoyed the beer…and the vibe. Add this brewery to your list.
I ended my visit to Savannah at the Ghost Coast Distillery. I started my tour at the Prohibition Museum, and it is only fitting to end my visit at Ghost Coast Distillery—“Savannah’s First Operational Distillery Since Prohibition”. The tours are free and they showcase the city’s history with alcohol. When first arriving in the city, I saw an ad for The Cocktail Room, located within the distillery. The Cocktail Room showcases cocktails created by Sidney Lance, nationally renowned mixologist. Sample some mini cocktails in a flight or watch the Ghost Coast team craft your cocktail from an impressive menu. I enjoyed a Fig Old Fashioned, and I highly recommend it.
If you are looking for a four-day escape from Virginia during late Winter or early Spring, consider a drive down to Savannah. The weather is a little warmer and the hospitality is