The colder weather is working its way into Nashville’s forecast, which means it’s time to pack up your winter gear, strap on your snowshoes, buy your lift ticket and head out to….Embers Ski Lodge in the 12th South Neighborhood.
Think about it: the concept of a ski lodge originated around the idea of a communal hangout spot and safe haven from inclement weather conditions where, once 5:00 p.m. rolls around, everyone comes off the hill and heads over to the lodge for cocktails and camaraderie.
No, we don’t have snow thanks to the Snow Dome, but we have hills! And plenty of locals and tourists looking for a place to have a great drink and hangout. And we have Embers Ski Lodge.
Opened earlier in 2015, Embers is located in the burgeoning 12South Neighborhood next to sister restaurant MAFIAoZA’s. The après-ski lodge theme is present in every aspect of the restaurant, from the decor, staff outfits and the food and drinks to the Winter Olympics reruns playing on the televisions.
While the snow’s the focus on the mountain, the bar is the main feature at Embers. The innovative cocktail menu was designed by international cocktail expert Gary Hayward, who designed the menu of 30 specialty cocktails to be high-end but approachable, and fast—because no one likes waiting 10 minutes for their drink order.
“We wanted a great neighborhood bar, so we brought in Gary to consult,” explains Matt Buttel, general manager at Embers. “He’s one of the top cocktail minds in the country, and we’re fortunate to have him here in Nashville. We wanted to make a place that was fun, that was easy. We have a unique cocktail menu, but it’s accessible. We carry brands people recognize, but we also have some really interesting, inventive stuff.”
In addition to specialty cocktails, Embers boasts an impressive selection of 180 whiskeys, the largest collection in Nashville. They’ve also got a ski shot* waiting for you and three of your closest friends (or maybe you just met them at the bar—who’s to say?).
But after spending all day on the slopes (shopping around 12 South), you’ll need to pair that cocktail with a hearty meal.
“We’re first and foremost a great neighborhood bar, but our food is also fantastic,” says Matt. “We’ve got a from-scratch, seasonally inspired gastro pub menu. Everything we serve is made in-house; we don’t take any shortcuts!”
From smoked salmon dip and fried Brussel sprouts appetizers to reindeer sausage and traditional Maine lobster roll entrees, the menu at Embers is a diverse mix of comfort foods and unique combinations, drawing inspiration from ski resorts around the world. And as every neighborhood hangout should, they’ve also mastered the classics.
He’s not kidding. The fries at Embers were voted Best French Fries in the Nashville Scene’s recent Best of Nashville 2015 issue (read it here). Boiled in vinegar as part of a three-step cooking process, Embers’ Belgian fries are the perfect marriage of thick and crispy, served with a generous sprinkle of salt and a fantastic choice of dipping sauces.
Embers has also drawn recent praise for the newly established Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, featuring hits such as the Mt. Alyeska-drunken spiced peanut butter and banana-stuffed French toast served with homemade strawberry jam and home fries; the Missoula ski bowl hash made with hash-roasted cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes, onions, mushrooms and hatch chili herbed hash; or the homemade chicken salad sandwich.
So whether you’re wanting to take in the sunshine on the outdoor patio (soon to have a second story), you’re craving a reindeer sausage or need a great hangout to drink an even greater cocktail, head over to Embers for an experience like nothing else in Nashville.
Embers Ski Lodge, located at 2410 12th Avenue South, is open for lunch and dinner Mondays-Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most importantly, the bar is open seven days a week until 2 a.m.