Charlotte, every day, is a different city than it was the day before. Old favorites give way to new condos almost as quickly as one can spell IPA. With this rapid development comes a new demographic, in the name of bankers, technologists, and the otherwise upwardly mobile who, true, especially on social media, look about as diverse as Wonder Bread. But to the people who live here (and the IPA drinkers who love them), the Queen City is brimming with diversity, sometimes unsung, sometimes overshadowed by the new kids in town, but which has nevertheless been here, thriving, all along. Therefore, any list of the best bars in Charlotte should be as eclectic as the population of Charlotte, circa now. These are the bright spots in town, the neighborhood watering holes, the chic first date spots; the places that create community.Read More
9 Standout Bars in Charlotte, North Carolina
Find everything from alluring cocktails to plastic cups of PBR
No menu, no problem. Everything is on the table at Idlewild in NoDa. With no set menu to speak of, mixologists instead ask customers what they like (and dislike) to let their imaginations run wild. For example, pointing to a bottle of Pedro Ximenez sherry on the bar might lead to a riveting take on an Old Fashioned that is as dark and chic as the bar itself. For more space, food, and a set menu, visit sister cocktail bar Fairweather next door.
Super Abari Game Bar
Just like a video game character ready to level up with another life, the nondescript white block of a building in Belmont that houses Super Abari— is a super rare coin. The game floor draws crowds from the entire demographic spectrum: friends trading punches over Street Fighter II, strangers laughing at the game’s retro look (or shedding tears of nostalgia), and retired couples calling over their new Gen Z neighbors to play pinball while drinking PBR from plastic cups. The cocktail list features the Princess Peach made with peach and orange blossom vodka and several boilermakers including the Rise N Shine, a coffee-infused Fernet and Wooden Robot’s Good Morning Vietnam, a coffee vanilla blonde ale.
The Cotton Room
The Cotton Room in Uptown was once a space for farmers to store and dry their cotton before bringing it downstairs, where vendors set up stalls along the street in a makeshift market. The pubs that line the street now bring a different, boisterous, and pleasure-seeking crowd, which is why the Cotton Room — whose entrance can be easily missed in the chaos — is such a welcome respite; it has a quiet, speakeasy vibe, without requiring a password, reservation or secret handshake. Much of the Cotton Room’s interior is as it was during Charlotte’s textile heyday — the floors, and exposed brick walls are all original — but the diverse crowd it draws is very much modern. The drink menu features tried and true classic cocktails (Bee’s Knees, anyone?), often with modern twists: the Campfire Old Fashioned, a delight for the social media crowd, is a standard Old Fashioned that switches out Angostura for mole bitters and features an Insta-worthy marshmallow set aflame.
Located inside the Refuge Hotel — a boutique hotel in Plaza Midwood with only five rooms — the Lobby often hosts residencies of small businesses in an effort to help pilot new ideas. The current concept is a collaboration between Black Moth Bars, a local bartending service, and Grow, a boutique plant shop (both have base camps at Camp North End). The cocktail list seems to be seasonal and features drinks like Final Girl (tequila, elderflower, grapefruit, honey, orange bitters, lime, and hop water) and Backwater (dirty vodka, brine, marinated olive, Graza oil, and the option to upgrade with blue cheese olives).
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The Green Room
To describe the Green Room as a hidden gem is an understatement. Standing in as a secret pocket bar inside Lincoln Street Kitchen & Cocktails in South End, this passion project turned reality is a modern speakeasy. Entrance is by reservation only and opens on Friday and Saturday nights. One of Charlotte’s preeminent mixologists Amanda Britton has created a smart cocktail menu that features drinks like a rum-based Carmen Sandiego, a Green Room martini, and a host of zero-proof mixed drink options. As an added bonus, the bar snacks menu features truffled popcorn, wagyu tartare, and potato pave with creme fraiche and caviar.
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The Bar at Supperland
The Bar at Supperland in Plaza Midwood is a place to see and be seen. Looking in from the outside, the bar is a transcendental experience set apart from the former church that the restaurant proper calls home. Go inside to claim one of a handful of plush purple stools that line the bar and try a spirit-free cocktail, handcrafted spirited cocktail, or interactive absinthe service. A limited menu of food from the restaurant is available, including sausage gravy croquettes, caviar, and baked Brie bites. A true hidden gem, try to snag one of 10 seats at the Speakeasy Spirit Experience, available Wednesday through Saturday by reservation only.
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Canopy Cocktails & Garden
Located off the Rail Trail in South End, this lively cocktail bar housed inside an old parachute factory is one of the only bars on this public thoroughfare. The atmosphere rules over everything with cozy, speakeasy vibes inside with overstuffed couches, old books, a fireplace, and multiple seating areas with intimate arrangements. The massive outdoor patio is outfitted with bright umbrellas, more cozy seating, heaters, and fire pits for chilly nights. Newer drinks on the menu have pun-y names, like the Chai Hard With a Vengeance, but the classics, like the Paper Plane, are there too.
LoSo Craft Cocktails at Weathered Souls Charlotte
You can’t have soul without a little spirit, right? Charlotte’s only Black-owned brewery now has a corner lounge within the brewery that serves classic cocktails plus signature drinks. Famed Charlotte mixologist Bob Peters created the libations, and chef Greg Collier of Leah and Louise designed the kitchen menu. Slurp oysters on the half shell or enjoy fresh salads, ceviche, and more. The ample seating and chill vibes invite non-beer drinkers and mixology aficionados alike to hang out.
Argon is a multi-colored, multi-hyphenate oasis down in newly branded LoSo. It welcomes everyone who can or cannot follow a beat, and that is just fabulous. It is a karaoke bar for people who can’t sing. It is also a place for members of the LGBTQ community to gather and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race with their friends and allies. There is no one type or demographic for which Argon solely exists. Many nights, long after the DJ stops spinning and the video monitors go black, patrons (some dressed to the nines and others dressed for the gym) trickle out into the parking lot, still buzzing on Absolut and sodas (or Smirnoff Blueberry and tonics, for the discerning), as they board their Ubers, laughing and dancing through what is left of the night.