While Raleigh might not have as dynamic a bar scene as Chapel Hill, there are many fine Raleigh establishments serving up tasty beverages. Indeed, North Carolina’s capital has become particularly noted for its wide-range of specialty cocktails. Let’s explore nine of the best places to order a unique cocktail while visiting the Tar Heel State’s capital.
Although Foundation may look like just a simple dive, this basement bar has a reputation for crafting some of Raleigh’s most sought-after cocktails. Located on 213 Fayetteville Street, Foundation only serves local liquors and makes all of their drinks on-site. Foundation’s menu is always changing depending on what’s in season, but a few of their famous past infusions include cucumber vodka with sparkling wine & blueberries and Copper & Kings brandy with lemon and curacao. If you’re looking for a few impressive seasonal cocktails in a relaxed environment, definitely take a trip to Foundation. This bar is open from 4:00PM to 2:00AM every day of the week.
2. Person Street Bar
Situated outside downtown Raleigh, the Person Street Bar is an independently-owned bar with a cozy neighborhood-feel. In addition to hand-crafted cocktails, Person Street Bar has an outdoor patio, plenty of craft beers, and a decent wine selection. The Person Street Bar is open Mondays through Fridays from 4PM – 2AM and on Saturdays and Sundays from 2PM – 2AM. You’ll find the Person Street Bar at 805 North Person Street.
3. El Gallo Pelón – Mezcaleria
Drawing on the long tradition of the mezcal, El Gallo Pelón is a marvelous Mexican-themed restaurant offering Latin and Tex-Mex-inspired cocktails. On El Gallo Pelón’s year-round menu, guests could order specialty cocktails including “Leather Jacket” (made with mezcal, peanut zucca, and vermouth) and “Waco Old Fashioned” (made with Dr. Pepper, ancho chile, bourbon, a cherry, and, of course, mezcal). El Gallo Pelón also has a seasonal menu and offers margaritas, sangrias, on-tap brews, wines, and snacks. Anyone can visit El Gallo Pelón at 106 S. Wilmington Street Mondays through Thursdays from 6PM – 12AM or Fridays through Saturdays from 6PM-2AM.
With 50s-inspired décor, Parliament is a classy bar between Raleigh’s North and South Glenwood districts with large windows ideal for people-watching. Although Parliament has plenty of house-made cocktails, the most iconic item on the Parliament’s menu is its namesake cocktail made with vodka, lime, cranberry, Prosecco, and house-made syrup. Parliament is located on 322 Glenwood Avenue and is open from 5PM – 2AM every day of the week.
5. Dram & Draught
Located at 623 Hillsborough Street, Dram & Draught is best-known for its 300-plus selection of whiskey, but this bar also has many unique cocktails and craft beers to choose from. Founded in 2016, this bar serves seasonal and year-round cocktails, some of which include an “Old Fashioned” (with bourbon, Angostura bitters, and orange) and “Whiskey Sour” (with bourbon, lemon juice, bitters, and an egg white). Another nice feature about Dram & Draught is that it’s a short walk from some of Raleigh’s most historic eateries, including Char-Grill and Snoopy’s Hot Dogs.
6. The Green Light
You won’t find The Green Light heavily advertised in Raleigh tourist booklets. Indeed, this speakeasy is located behind a bookcase inside the Architect Bar & Social House. You’ll instantly be transported back into the 1920s as you sip on a house-made cocktail in this extremely well-hidden Raleigh bar. The pleasure of visiting the The Green Lightt mainly has to do with taking in the ambiance of an authentic Prohibition era speakeasy. The Architect Bar is located at 108 E Hargett Street and is open between 5PM – 2PM every day of the week.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Hummingbird is a community-focused establishment dedicated to serving up comforting drinks and meals to their customers. In terms of cocktails, this restaurant’s namesake blend is a combination of hibiscus tea with vodka, lime, and Peychaud’s. In keeping with its youthful ambiance, all of the Hummingbird’s cocktails have unique names that reference famous songs such as “The Long and Vinding Road” and “Let it Bee.” Unlike some of the other names on this list, Hummingbird has an extensive food menu with hearty dishes like lamb meatballs and rubbed chicken wings. Hummingbird is located at 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Suite 111 and is open Mondays through Saturdays between 8AM – 12AM.
8. Death & Taxes
Created by famed Chef Ashley Cristensen, Death & Taxes is another hot Raleigh restaurant with both sensational food and cocktails. For the cocktails, some of Death & Taxes standouts include “Here’s Johnny” (made with scotch, rye whiskey, cheerwine, and Dolin Rouge) and “Stiggins’ Timeout” (made with pineapple-flavored rum, syrup, and freshly-squeezed lime). On Death & Taxes’ food menu, guests can order from a wide-range of Southern-inspired starters, sides, main dishes, and desserts. Anyone can visit Death & Taxes at 105 W. Hargett Street, from 5PM – 10 PM Sundays through Wednesdays or from 5PM – 11PM Thursdays through Saturdays.
Last on our list of the best cocktails in Raleigh is Bittersweet at 16 E. Martin Street. As the name suggests, Bittersweet is a superb location for after-dinner drinks and sweets with friends. Besides seasonal cocktails, the Bittersweet drink menu is well-known for its wide range of liqueur-infused coffees. There are also plenty of wines, craft beers, and shots to delight visitors to Bittersweet. But Bittersweet is perhaps best-known for its house-made pastries, which include a raspberry brûlée, a blueberry sweetcake, and a pecan pie with chocolate, ruban, and caramel. Bittersweet is located at 16 E. Martin Street and is open from 7AM – 2AM Thursdays through Saturdays, 2PM to 2AM on Sundays, 7AM – 4PM on Mondays, and from 7AM – 12AM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.