Savannah ’s best dive—and I mean that in the nicest way—is without a doubt Pinkie Masters (318 Drayton St., 912/238-0447, Mon.–Fri. 4 p.m.–3 a.m., Sat. 5 p.m.–3 a.m.). Small, dark, crowded, and dusty, but oh-so alive, Pinkie’s, named for a legendary local political kingmaker, is a favorite not only with students, artists, and professors, but also with lawyers, journalists, and grizzled war vets. Traditionally the watering hole for local political types, the bar sports walls plastered over with signed photos of a diverse range of politicos and entertainers from the 1970s through today, from all sides of the spectrum.
This is where Jimmy Carter, ironically a teetotaler, stood on the bar and announced his candidacy for Georgia governor. The service is friendly but casual; bartenders often finish their shift and simply take their place on a barstool with the customers.
Think of Hang Fire (27 Whitaker St., 912/443-9956, Mon.–Sat. 5 p.m.–3 a.m.) as Pinkie’s, the new generation. Though only few years old, this Whitaker Street haunt, occupying the site of downtown’s last strip bar, is already one of the most popular bars in town, and like Pinkie’s caters to a wide range of people who seem to get along in more or less perfect harmony. Trivia nights on Tuesdays are a hoot.
One of the hottest hangouts downtown is The Distillery (416 W. Liberty St., 912/236-1772, www.distillerysavannah.com ), located in, yes, a former distillery. As such, the atmosphere isn’t exactly dark and romantic—it’s sort of one big open room—but the excellent location at the corner of MLK Jr. Boulevard and Liberty Street, the long, vintage bar, and the great selection of beers on tap combine to make this a happening spot.
Long known as Savannah ’s premier place for young hotties to meet other young hotties, the Bar-Bar (219 W. Julian St. in City Market, 912/231-1910, Mon.–Sat. 7 p.m.–3 a.m.) is a sprawling underground den underneath an old warehouse. The low-ceilinged but spacious spot boasts a great little dance floor, pool tables, and plenty of places to sit and relax in privacy. And oh, yeah, plenty of hotties.
Also a decent restaurant, the bar at 1790 (307 E. President St., 912/236-7122, lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., dinner daily 6–10 p.m., bar Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–3 a.m., Sat.–Sun. 6 p.m.–3 a.m.) has long been a gathering place for some of Savannah’s most well- connected businesspeople to let their hair down and gossip about each other until last call. You can order from the restaurant menu until 10 p.m.
The main landmark on the west end of River Street  is the famous (or infamous, depending on which side of “The Troubles” you’re on) Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub (117 W. River St., 912/233-9626, www.kevinbarrys.com , daily 11 a.m.–3 a.m.), one of Savannah ’s most beloved establishments. K.B.’s keeps alive the spirit of Irish independence, so don’t be alarmed when you see a tribute on the wall to some martyr or other, killed fighting the English.
It’s open seven days a week, with evenings seeing performances by a number of Irish troubadours, all veterans of the East Coast trad circuit. An eclectic mix of tourists, local Irish, military, and sailors keeps this place always interesting and alive. While no one in their right mind goes to an Irish pub for the food, Kevin Barry’s offers a good, solid range of typical fare, including a serviceable corned beef and cabbage.
Don’t get too excited about the “rooftop dining” advertised at Churchill’s Pub & Restaurant (13–17 W. Bay St., 912/232-8501, www.thebritishpub.com , Mon.–Fri. 5 p.m.– 3 a.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–3 a.m., kitchen closes 10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11 p.m. Fri.–Sat.), unless you enjoy looking at the sides of other buildings. The real attractions at Churchill’s are threefold: the great selection of beer; the great company; and perhaps most of all, the fish and chips, which are hands-down the best in town. Don’t forget to be liberal with the malt vinegar; it’s key.
The “other” English pub in town, Six Pence Pub (245 Bull St., 912/233-3151, daily 11:30 a.m.–midnight) is centrally located off Chippewa Square  downtown, and is good place to stop in for a pint on a rainy day. Look for the big red London telephone booth out front.
The only brewpub in Savannah , Moon River Brewing Company (21 W. Bay St., 912/447-0943, www.moonriverbrewing.com , Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight, Sun. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.) directly across from the Hyatt Regency, offers half a dozen handcrafted beers—from a pale ale to a stout to all points in-between.