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Fall cocktails at Dram & Drought.
Dram & Draught

Raleigh’s Top 12 Cocktail Bars Open Right Now

Influential and essential establishments for imbibing

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Fall cocktails at Dram & Drought.
| Dram & Draught

Those in search of a good drink in Raleigh are in luck because the City of Oaks has one of the most exciting cocktail scenes in the state. Long-established bars and brand new spots combine to offer a little bit of everything, from avante garde creations for the cocktail drinker looking for something new to timeless classics for those who know their drink and stick to it.

Many of the bars managed to weather the pandemic mostly intact, although a few have yet to reopen for in-person imbibing. One in particular, Fox Liquor Bar, would have made this list but remains closed. Additionally, there are a number of great breweries, beer halls, and wine bars throughout the city in which to enjoy some softer spirits, but this map focuses on cocktails. Whether the liquor of choice is bourbon, mezcal, or gin, there is a bar for every cocktail fancy in Raleigh.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Wild Turkey Lounge

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9401 Glenwood Ave
Raleigh, NC 27617

Whiskey and bourbon lovers rejoice because there is perhaps no better selection anywhere in the state that at the Angus Barn’s Wild Turkey Lounge. The lounge gets its name from the 600-plus decorative Wild Turkey decanters on display (the largest private collection of such decanters in the world), and Entrepreneur Magazine once named it “One of the Best Business Bars in America.” Whether sealing a business deal or not, guests can select from dozens of bourbons, whiskeys, scotches, and more. True aficionados will appreciate the reserve list featuring rare finds like Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac rye, and the Old Fitzgerald 15-year.

2. Level7

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101 Park at N Hills St
Raleigh, NC 27609
(984) 204-7688
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Come for the views and stay for the cocktails. Level7, located atop North Raleigh’s AC Hotel, offers one of the best rooftop drinks scenes in the city. Cocktails are mostly plays on classics and include a grapefruit spritz (Dixie vodka, St. Germain, aperol, grapefruit soda), a smoked Manhattan (Redemption rye, Lustau vermouth, Angostura bitters, Bordeaux cherry), and a signature gin and tonic (Hendrick’s, Fever-Tree tonic, cucumber, and star anise). A menu of small plates complements the cocktail list.

3. The Blind Barbour

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3055 Medlin Dr
Raleigh, NC 27607
(919) 579-1524
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Since 2016, the Blind Barbour has served speciality cocktails and an impressive selection of whiskeys in a Raleigh neighborhood not otherwise known for having a nightlife scene. On the cocktail list, find drinks like the City of SmOAK (mezcal, yellow chartreuse, habanero, pineapple, lime), the Sin Nombre (gin, amaro, fig, and lime), and the B.O.B. (bourbon over bourbon), which is made with Evan Williams single barrel, Overproof bourbon, demerara sugar, and bitters. An accompanying list of whiskeys and an additional offering of rare and antique liquors (like a 1927 Old Crow 11-year bourbon) is available for enthusiasts.

4. William & Company

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616 N Person St #1214
Raleigh, NC 27604
(919) 335-3165
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Oakwood favorite William & Company (known to regulars as WillCo) is a mashup of neighborhood dive and funky cocktail bar. Recent drink features included a rosemary vodka Collins, apple cinnamon Old Fashioned, and a berry mezcal smash. The cocktail offerings change frequently — regulars know to check Instagram to see not only what’s on the chalkboard for the evening but which of their favorite bartenders will be slinging drinks tonight.

5. Killjoy

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116 N West St
Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 675-1433
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Pandemic opening Killjoy is the brainchild of longtime Raleigh bar and hospitality veterans Zack Thomas and Josh Cagne. Customers select from the unique menu of both boozy and alcohol-free cocktails (like the Get Figgy With It with rum, honey fig syrup, rosemary, lime, sugar, and bitters or the non-alcoholic Gordon’s Chip made with pineapple, cucumber, lime, hot sauce, salt, and pepper) or consult with a bartender to create a cocktail unique to their tastes. The bar also offers a full calendar of events including cocktail classes, cocktail tastings, and DJ nights.

6. Dram & Draught

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1 Glenwood Ave Suite 101
Raleigh, NC 27603

Another nod to Raleigh’s affinity for brown liquor, Dram & Draught is one of the city’s premier whiskey bars (it also has locations in Durham and Greensboro). There is an extensive list of cocktails featuring seasonal creations, house favorites, and twists on classic cocktails, as well as wine and zero-alcohol creations. For those wanting to sample from Dram & Draught’s extensive whiskey list there is a flight with a choice of three one-ounce pours from the selections.

seats facing a window at dusk
Seating at Dram & Draught.
Dram & Draught

7. Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria

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106 S Wilmington St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 835-4729
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Located above venerated downtown Mexican restaurant Centro, Gallo Pelón bills itself as North Carolina’s first mezcaleria, dedicated to showcasing this smoky cousin of tequila. The bar is currently open only on Fridays and Saturdays (reservations required) and offering a pandemic-abbreviated menu of cocktails and small bites. Most of the cocktails feature mezcal, but for those new to the spirit the superbly-trained staff can lead patrons through a mezcal flight.

8. Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing

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201 S Boylan Ave
Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 275-5718
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Sure, Wye Hill is first and foremost a restaurant and brewery, but it has also become known for craft cocktails, best enjoyed on the patio with a panoramic view of downtown Raleigh. The Oaxacan Sunset is made with mezcal, hibiscus, ginger, spices, lime, while the Mountie is made with Evan Williams bonded bourbon, maple syrup, clove, and bitters, and served smoking with oak wood. For low or no-alcohol drinks, Wye Hill offers a zero proof cocktail menu featuring kombucha, tea, ginger beer, and the What’s Up Doc, made with carrot juice, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and apple cider.

9. Watts & Ward

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200 S Blount St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 896-8016
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A modern take on Roaring Twenties cocktail culture, Watts & Ward offers speakeasy vibes in its spacious underground spot on Blount Street downtown. House cocktails include the Carolina Lily (a riff on a French 75 made with vodka, strawberry, and rosé) and the Moonrider (with blanco tequila, Aperol, elderflower, lime, and torched rosemary). In keeping with the theme a larger list of classic concoctions like a whiskey sour, Sazerac, or Boulevardier are options for those who want to lean into the 1920s vibe.

10. The Green Light

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108 E Hargett St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 699-5256
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First go to the Architect Bar; then head upstairs. If the green light is on, look for the hidden door in the bookcase and head on through to enjoy the Green Light. This speakeasy offers vintage vibes and expertly crafted cocktails for both aficionados and newbies alike. The bar doesn’t publish a menu or even feature drinks on its social media, so the entire experience is truly a surprise. The space is small so reservations are highly recommended.

11. Foundation

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213 Fayetteville St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 896-6016
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A staple in Raleigh’s craft cocktail scene, Foundation serves up both classic cocktails and seasonal creations in its speakeasy-like underground space. A highlight of the menu is the Old Fashioned list, with seven different takes on the popular cocktail. The Timeless Classics section of the menu is based on cocktail recipes from two cocktail books out of Asheville, Just Cocktails (published in 1939), and Here’s How (published in 1941) and include favorites like the whiskey sour, Tom Collins, and the daiquiri. The seasonal menu changes, well, seasonally, but there is also a selection of Foundation Classics, like the Krupnikas Flip (local Krupnikas spiced honey lqueur, Ezra Brooks bourbon, Larry’s Beans’ cold brew coffee, brown sugar, and an egg), first put on the menu in 2014.

12. Bittersweet

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16 E Martin St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 977-3829
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Delicious desserts meet expertly crafted cocktails at Bittersweet, where chef/owner Kim Hammer combines her baking prowess with a predilection for top notch drinks to create Raleigh’s only dessert cocktail bar. Customers can pair seasonal cocktails like the Blair Witch Tea Party (Cardinal barrel-rested gin, black tea, honey, pineapple, lemon, dash of cayenne pepper with a spiced rim) or the 4 a.m. Pancake (bourbon, cream, maple syrup, Crude coffee, and cocoa bitters) with desserts such as pumpkin creme brûlée, apple doughnut cobbler, or the Halloween Threesome, which Hammer describes as “imagine a Reese’s peanut butter cup, Snickers, and a Milky Way have a layered chocolate mousse-baby.”

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1. Wild Turkey Lounge

9401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

Whiskey and bourbon lovers rejoice because there is perhaps no better selection anywhere in the state that at the Angus Barn’s Wild Turkey Lounge. The lounge gets its name from the 600-plus decorative Wild Turkey decanters on display (the largest private collection of such decanters in the world), and Entrepreneur Magazine once named it “One of the Best Business Bars in America.” Whether sealing a business deal or not, guests can select from dozens of bourbons, whiskeys, scotches, and more. True aficionados will appreciate the reserve list featuring rare finds like Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, Thomas H. Handy Sazerac rye, and the Old Fitzgerald 15-year.

9401 Glenwood Ave
Raleigh, NC 27617

2. Level7

101 Park at N Hills St, Raleigh, NC 27609

Come for the views and stay for the cocktails. Level7, located atop North Raleigh’s AC Hotel, offers one of the best rooftop drinks scenes in the city. Cocktails are mostly plays on classics and include a grapefruit spritz (Dixie vodka, St. Germain, aperol, grapefruit soda), a smoked Manhattan (Redemption rye, Lustau vermouth, Angostura bitters, Bordeaux cherry), and a signature gin and tonic (Hendrick’s, Fever-Tree tonic, cucumber, and star anise). A menu of small plates complements the cocktail list.

101 Park at N Hills St
Raleigh, NC 27609

3. The Blind Barbour

3055 Medlin Dr, Raleigh, NC 27607

Since 2016, the Blind Barbour has served speciality cocktails and an impressive selection of whiskeys in a Raleigh neighborhood not otherwise known for having a nightlife scene. On the cocktail list, find drinks like the City of SmOAK (mezcal, yellow chartreuse, habanero, pineapple, lime), the Sin Nombre (gin, amaro, fig, and lime), and the B.O.B. (bourbon over bourbon), which is made with Evan Williams single barrel, Overproof bourbon, demerara sugar, and bitters. An accompanying list of whiskeys and an additional offering of rare and antique liquors (like a 1927 Old Crow 11-year bourbon) is available for enthusiasts.

3055 Medlin Dr
Raleigh, NC 27607

4. William & Company

616 N Person St #1214, Raleigh, NC 27604

Oakwood favorite William & Company (known to regulars as WillCo) is a mashup of neighborhood dive and funky cocktail bar. Recent drink features included a rosemary vodka Collins, apple cinnamon Old Fashioned, and a berry mezcal smash. The cocktail offerings change frequently — regulars know to check Instagram to see not only what’s on the chalkboard for the evening but which of their favorite bartenders will be slinging drinks tonight.

616 N Person St #1214
Raleigh, NC 27604

5. Killjoy

116 N West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Pandemic opening Killjoy is the brainchild of longtime Raleigh bar and hospitality veterans Zack Thomas and Josh Cagne. Customers select from the unique menu of both boozy and alcohol-free cocktails (like the Get Figgy With It with rum, honey fig syrup, rosemary, lime, sugar, and bitters or the non-alcoholic Gordon’s Chip made with pineapple, cucumber, lime, hot sauce, salt, and pepper) or consult with a bartender to create a cocktail unique to their tastes. The bar also offers a full calendar of events including cocktail classes, cocktail tastings, and DJ nights.

116 N West St
Raleigh, NC 27603

6. Dram & Draught

1 Glenwood Ave Suite 101, Raleigh, NC 27603
seats facing a window at dusk
Seating at Dram & Draught.
Dram & Draught

Another nod to Raleigh’s affinity for brown liquor, Dram & Draught is one of the city’s premier whiskey bars (it also has locations in Durham and Greensboro). There is an extensive list of cocktails featuring seasonal creations, house favorites, and twists on classic cocktails, as well as wine and zero-alcohol creations. For those wanting to sample from Dram & Draught’s extensive whiskey list there is a flight with a choice of three one-ounce pours from the selections.

1 Glenwood Ave Suite 101
Raleigh, NC 27603

7. Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria

106 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Located above venerated downtown Mexican restaurant Centro, Gallo Pelón bills itself as North Carolina’s first mezcaleria, dedicated to showcasing this smoky cousin of tequila. The bar is currently open only on Fridays and Saturdays (reservations required) and offering a pandemic-abbreviated menu of cocktails and small bites. Most of the cocktails feature mezcal, but for those new to the spirit the superbly-trained staff can lead patrons through a mezcal flight.

106 S Wilmington St
Raleigh, NC 27601

8. Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing

201 S Boylan Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

Sure, Wye Hill is first and foremost a restaurant and brewery, but it has also become known for craft cocktails, best enjoyed on the patio with a panoramic view of downtown Raleigh. The Oaxacan Sunset is made with mezcal, hibiscus, ginger, spices, lime, while the Mountie is made with Evan Williams bonded bourbon, maple syrup, clove, and bitters, and served smoking with oak wood. For low or no-alcohol drinks, Wye Hill offers a zero proof cocktail menu featuring kombucha, tea, ginger beer, and the What’s Up Doc, made with carrot juice, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and apple cider.

201 S Boylan Ave
Raleigh, NC 27603

9. Watts & Ward

200 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601

A modern take on Roaring Twenties cocktail culture, Watts & Ward offers speakeasy vibes in its spacious underground spot on Blount Street downtown. House cocktails include the Carolina Lily (a riff on a French 75 made with vodka, strawberry, and rosé) and the Moonrider (with blanco tequila, Aperol, elderflower, lime, and torched rosemary). In keeping with the theme a larger list of classic concoctions like a whiskey sour, Sazerac, or Boulevardier are options for those who want to lean into the 1920s vibe.

200 S Blount St
Raleigh, NC 27601

10. The Green Light

108 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

First go to the Architect Bar; then head upstairs. If the green light is on, look for the hidden door in the bookcase and head on through to enjoy the Green Light. This speakeasy offers vintage vibes and expertly crafted cocktails for both aficionados and newbies alike. The bar doesn’t publish a menu or even feature drinks on its social media, so the entire experience is truly a surprise. The space is small so reservations are highly recommended.

108 E Hargett St
Raleigh, NC 27601

11. Foundation

213 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601

A staple in Raleigh’s craft cocktail scene, Foundation serves up both classic cocktails and seasonal creations in its speakeasy-like underground space. A highlight of the menu is the Old Fashioned list, with seven different takes on the popular cocktail. The Timeless Classics section of the menu is based on cocktail recipes from two cocktail books out of Asheville, Just Cocktails (published in 1939), and Here’s How (published in 1941) and include favorites like the whiskey sour, Tom Collins, and the daiquiri. The seasonal menu changes, well, seasonally, but there is also a selection of Foundation Classics, like the Krupnikas Flip (local Krupnikas spiced honey lqueur, Ezra Brooks bourbon, Larry’s Beans’ cold brew coffee, brown sugar, and an egg), first put on the menu in 2014.

213 Fayetteville St
Raleigh, NC 27601

12. Bittersweet

16 E Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Delicious desserts meet expertly crafted cocktails at Bittersweet, where chef/owner Kim Hammer combines her baking prowess with a predilection for top notch drinks to create Raleigh’s only dessert cocktail bar. Customers can pair seasonal cocktails like the Blair Witch Tea Party (Cardinal barrel-rested gin, black tea, honey, pineapple, lemon, dash of cayenne pepper with a spiced rim) or the 4 a.m. Pancake (bourbon, cream, maple syrup, Crude coffee, and cocoa bitters) with desserts such as pumpkin creme brûlée, apple doughnut cobbler, or the Halloween Threesome, which Hammer describes as “imagine a Reese’s peanut butter cup, Snickers, and a Milky Way have a layered chocolate mousse-baby.”

16 E Martin St
Raleigh, NC 27601

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