Image courtesy of Dalton Brewing Company

Traveling gives a lot of opportunities to experience unique bars with even more unique drinks, and it gives me a chance to look around some of the places in my hometown of Dalton, Georgia the same way. Soft rush of the air conditioning blows a cool breeze as I open the door, the smell of hops as the bartender pours something local from the tap, bubbles fizz and ice clacks as someone laughs and sets their Moscow mule down. The bartender asks what I’ll have. I could get a beer or something from a Bourbon County barrel. Instead, I ask what her favorite house cocktail is. She claps hands together and says, “Gotcha, buddy!”

You might find that feeling anywhere, but, as a Dalton local, where would I go to for some local flavor (in more ways than one)?

Dalton Distillery

Moonshine & Spirit Distillery with Tasting Room

Image courtesy of Dalton Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Butler has been making moonshine for over 100 years, and, in that time, they’ve not only perfected that family recipe but also gotten truly creative with it. Dalton Distillery is the home of TazaRay, an amazing whiskey made from sunflower seeds that has a distinct, nutty taste I’ve never had from anywhere else — it’s just as great to cook with as it is to drink too. The first time I went for a tasting. Raymond Sr. selected a bottle from the line of craft vodkas, and said, “Try this! It’s chocolate mint. Tastes just like Christmas.” Sure enough, I expected to go back out the door and see snow in the middle of July. Easily a must stop spot when you visit that you won’t want leave without taking home a bottle.

~My recommendation: Raymond’s Reserve Moonshine and TazaRay

Dalton Brewing Company

Micro Brewery

Image courtesy of Dalton Brewing Company

Dalton Brewing’s slogan is “Good beer engineered” for a reason. Even before I take that first sip, the sweet, fruity smell of citrus and the hoppy aroma of the Mango IPA reminds me of brewing beer with my dad and tells me I’ve chosen a well-crafted craft beer. Dalton Brewing Company brews all their beer on-site, and their homemade root beer and other options make it an open place for the community as a whole. Early in the evening you’ll find the five o’clock crowd fresh from the office sipping alongside folks bringing in take out from restaurants around the block while kids play board games (the adults play board games too, but just a little more competitively).

~My recommendation: Mango IPA 2.0 and ReTHICCulous

Cherokee Brewing & Pizza Company

Pizza, Taproom & Micro Brewery

Image courtesy of Dalton Convention & Visitors Bureau

The pizza alone is reason enough to go to Cherokee. The smell of the cheese melting into the crust from the wood-fire ovens fills the whole room as soon as you come through the door. But the 24 beers on tap including the house brews add something else. You could sit down for live music and trivia throughout the week, or you could go down the hall way to Brewcade where nostalgic beeping and singing of retro arcade classics will have you reflexively reaching into your pocket for quarters like back in the 80’s where collars were popped and the hair was big. But the big draw is the feeling of community that lives in the space that makes you feel like you’re at home — because you are.

~My Recommendation: Mankiller Double IPA and Dragging Canoe Cider

The Spinning Room (in The Mill at Crown Garden)

Wine Bar & Tapas

Image courtesy of The Spinning Room

A chic spot for when you need to take a deep breath and savor the night. I’m coming around to learning more about wine, and, while it’s new for me, the sommelier’s selection has expanded my palette from the robust Malbec to a Chardonnay that’s light and refreshing. Craft beer and domestics are also available, and the chef-inspired tapas is to die for. If you’re adventurous with your tastings, The Spinning Room also features the Spun and Done Wine Club in which members receive 2 wines chosen by their sommelier 4 times a year. And if you ever need help deciding, ask Lark what she has behind the bar — she’ll take good care of you!

~My Recommendation: Rioja, Vargas and Le Crema Chardonnay

­Native Kitchen (in The Mill at Crown Garden)

Organic Café and Cocktails

Image courtesy of Native Kitchen

Native Kitchen is a refreshing organic café that mixes the historic industrial aesthetic with a bright modern flair. I like coming for brunch or to grab coffee and a freshly baked vegan pastries for a pick me up, but that’s only half the story. You see, part of what makes Native so special is that they make all their syrups in-house from essential oils. So if you walk over to the bar side of the café you get some amazingly beautiful handcrafted cocktails that are fresh so fresh you’d think their Elder Berry Martini was picked along with the berries themselves! Native also offers non-alcoholic cocktails as well as craft beer and their wine selection is organic and sustainably sourced. Since I’ve been striving to eat fresh, it’s an amazing opportunity for me to drink fresh too!

~My Recommendation: Lavender Mule and Berry Bramble

I could go on! Dalton, Georgia is full of amazing spots to try something I can’t find anywhere else I visit. Finding those unique bars, microbreweries, taprooms and more is part of what makes me love traveling. There’s so much that will floor you about Dalton and keep Georgia on your mind for a long, long time.