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My wife is a travel writer, and she obviously loves to travel, so I usually try to find the best bars in the cities where we visit. I visited the historic Oak Bar while we were in Nashville for the Country Music Association (CMA) Fest event.

CMA Fest

It is a wonderful event that takes place in early June all over downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The CMA Awards are the kickoff of CMA Fest. The next day after the televised award show, CMA Fest begins with about 100,000 attendees. There are concerts in multiple venues with dozens and dozens of country music stars performing for four days that begin in the morning culminating with four nights of concerts at Titan Stadium where the leading acts of country music perform. There are stages all over downtown including the River front stage that is a large barge on the Cumberland River, the Plaza stage, the HGTV Lodge and even indoor venues. Additionally, there are many bars that line Broadway that have live music that starts in the morning and goes into the wee hours.


CMA Fest

Jack Daniels Booth

There are a number of vendors with portable storefronts selling many types of food, drink, clothing, accessories, and many other goods. One of my favorites is the Jack Daniels booth that sells a wide variety of their branded merchandise. The Jack Daniels distillery is located in nearby Lynchburg, and I can highly recommend a visit there, too!

Hermitage Hotel

The Oak Bar is located in the beautiful, five star Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville that was built in 1908-1910. The Hermitage Hotel is named for President Andrew Jackson’s home that is located near Nashville. It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Don’t miss viewing the spectacular lobby of this hotel with its high stained-glass ceiling. It is decorated beautifully for the holidays, too!


Hermitage Hotel – Lobby Entry

Capitol Grille

The Oak Bar is located downstairs adjacent to the Capitol Grille. This restaurant is not part of the Capital Grill chain, but it does serve great steaks. All the vegetables are grown in a farm located about ten miles outside of Nashville. Their French onion soup is not to be missed! The farm-to-table salad is great, too!


Capitol Grille – Farm to Table Salad

The vaulted ceiling in the room is unique and sometimes one can hear clearly what is being said in a table across the room. It is a favorite of the members of the state legislature which is located nearby, and it is how the restaurant got its name.


Capitol Grille – Interior (Adjacent to Oak Bar)

Oak Bar – History

Just steps away from the restaurant is the Oak Bar. It opened originally as a gentleman’s club and the décor does scream clubby! Historians say that the bar was caught serving bourbon in teapots during Prohibition.

Oak Bar – Design Elements


Oak Bar – Entryway

When entering the bar, note the beautiful stained glass windows that are on either side of the front doors. The bar gets its name from the beautiful inlaid oak paneling. The ceiling of the bar is a white alabaster that is stunning. Inlaid into the ceiling is HH for the Hermitage Hotel.


Oak Bar – HH (Hermitage Hotel) Ceiling Design

Today, the Oak Bar has one of the most extensive number of different bourbons in Nashville. They have over one hundred and thirty different brands. Some of these bourbons are hard to find bottles so this is a great place to taste some of the finest bourbons produced. Below is a picture of one of their special liquor cabinets.


Oak Bar – Special Liquor Cabinet

The bar has a number of tables, some tucked away in intimate alcoves. So, the feel is intimate, yet not too quiet for good conversation.


Oak Bar – Interior Seating Area

Some of the specialty cocktails include Jack’s Mule, a Moscow mule made with Jack Daniels; Fat’s Smash, a Buffalo Trace bourbon with pure maple syrup, fresh lemon and mint; and the Tennessee Waltz, a bourbon, Cocchi Americano, Cardamaro, and Grand Marnier just to name a few of the fantastic concoctions that they serve.


Oak Bar Jack’s Mule

I believe the Oak Bar is a don’t miss of bars if you are ever in Nashville!

Read more about visiting Nashville and the Hermitage Hotel in my wife’s $2.99 Kindle book, “One Perfect Day in Nashville 2017”. Here is a link to the Amazon page if you would like to check out a free sample or purchase it:


I would love to hear from you about other historic or unique bars or pubs that I should write about or visit. You can reach me at mike@bartalk.org.