Robyn Donnelly and Katie MacLachlan of Walden, Nashville [Danielle Atkins Photography]

Walk into Walden in East Nashville’s newly established East Hill Row on a Friday afternoon, and you’ll likely find the place filled with women. Owners Robyn Donnelly and Katie MacLachlan didn’t intend for it to be “a lady bar” but, as Donnelly points out, “the fact that it is makes our jobs a lot more fun.”

The relaxed space is rimmed with tall, wooden banquettes accented with pillows, and there’s a large floral mural on one wall. Hanging plants above a corner of the bar help warm up the exposed brick throughout. Behind the bar, instead of shelves holding bottles of spirits, there’s a line of 36 taps (the space used to be a beer bar) from which Walden bartenders serve cocktails—which are all on draft, as are 12 wines, 12 beers, two cold brews, and even Fernet.

“Efficiency of service is very important to us,” co-owner MacLachlan says. A bartender can be pouring a cocktail, a few glasses of wine, and a beer, serving an entire group in about a minute, she adds. “You just can’t do that with bottles.” Stand-alone spirits are available on request, but the draft cocktails are a big draw.

“We’ve always wanted a place that promoted social interaction,” Donnelly adds. “The draft cocktail program encourages the bartender to have conversations with the customers and also to facilitate conversations between customers.” Not to mention, batching lets them to keep their prices low—the drinks are all less than $10 and still offer a boozy kick.

Beets by Dr. D at Walden, Nashville [Danielle Atkins Photography]

On any given night, the crowd is a mix of ages, with neighbors getting to know visitors. As the night goes on, more men eventually balance the crowd, making it a convivial destination for all.


Beets by Dr. D

1.5 oz. Mezcal (Walden uses Banhez)

0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice

2 oz. Natalie’s Beet Orange juice (the beet orange combo helps sweeten it a bit; if juicing at home, strain twice)


Shake all ingredients and pour over ice. Garnish with a basil leaf that’s been “smacked” to accentuate the aroma. Garnish with an edible yellow flower.