5 best cocktail bars in Charlotte

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Thirsty? Here are the 5 best cocktail bars in Charlotte.

Honorable mentions: Sophia’s Lounge, The Punch Room, Imperial, City Lights and Rosemont (even though it’s more casual than craft). Also worth noting are restaurant-first cocktail spots like Dogwood, Summit Room, Superica, Zeppelin, Suffolk Punch and Hello, Sailor.


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Dot Dot Dot

Best mature cocktail bar

Prohibition-style speakeasy in an old storage unit behind Park Road Shopping Center.

Quote: “I tend to be pretty conservative on cashflow projections, but after almost one year, we’re hitting close to double our projected numbers,” said co-owner Conrad Hunter, who also owns Foxcroft Wine. “With about 10,000 members, our biggest challenge is accommodating everyone who wants to get in during peak hours.”

Membership: $10/year

Vibe: Adult, laid back and sophisticated

Popular cocktails:

  • Old Fashioned ($14) — Elijah Craig 11-year personal selection bourbon, bitters, sugar, orange, cherry, served over ice.
  • Lily Wants a Pony ($12) — Tito’s vodka, Riesling, rosemary, lime, served over ice.
  • Hot Box ($18) — Baker’s bourbon, Islay scotch, house blended sweet vermouth, hellfire bitters, pecan smoke, served short over ice.
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Co-owner and bartender Stefan Huebner

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Most popular Dot Dot Dot cocktails: Lily Wants a Pony ($12, left) and and their Old Fashioned ($14, right).


Merchant & Trade

Best rooftop cocktail bar

Chic rooftop lounge on the 18th floor of the Kimpton in Uptown.

Vibe: Casual to start and clubby as the night goes on

Getting in: There is a dress code and typically a line to get in.

Nearby restaurants: If you’re looking to grab dinner before/after visiting Merchant & Trade, check out two of Charlotte’s hottest new restaurants — La Belle Helene or Haymaker — both within 100 yards.

Popular cocktails: 

  • Beet It! ($13) Deep Eddy Vodka, Domaine de Canton, “Lenny Boy” Beet/Ginger Kombucha
  • M&T Ol’ Fashion ($12) Evans Williams Black, Demerara Syrup, Angostura Bitters
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Agenda related story: Best rooftop bars in Charlotte

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M&T Ol’ Fashion ($12, left) and Beet It! ($13, right)


The Cellar at Duckworth’s

Best underground cocktail bar

Speakeasy with a gastropub menu underneath Duckworth’s in Uptown.

Most popular cocktails:

  • The East Village ($14) – Manhattan-inspired cocktail with Bourbon and Amaros, topped with caramelized Orange Oils
  • The French Buck ($14) – a twist on the classic French 75 (Gin, Prosecco, lemon) with fresh ginger added.
  • The Cellar Smash ($14) – vodka cocktail with pronounced ginger and herbal flavors paired with Citrus and Elderflower

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Fancy shot of the East Village cocktail via The Cellar


Haberdish

Best restaurant cocktail bar

Southern-inspired restaurant in the heart of NoDa with beautiful, large bar area to the right when you enter.

Popular cocktail: Mint Julep ($10) – bourbon, fresh mint, sugar, shaved ice

Group cocktail: Happy Go Lucky Champagne Punch ($11/$25/$52) – champagne, vodka, gin, lime juice, grapefruit-blood orange tea syrup.

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Inside Haberdish via Dustin Peck

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Taste testing Haberdish’s tequila cocktails (tough job)


Soul Gastrolounge

Best date night cocktail bar

Cool small plate, sushi and cocktail lounge in Plaza Midwood.

Famous cocktail: Soul’s Cucumber Mule – Absolut vodka, cucumber juice, fresh ginger, key lime juice, sugar. It’s prepped fresh daily before doors open at 5 p.m. and is so popular that it’s the only drink at Soul Gastrolounge that stays on the menu almost every season. They sell 100 to 150 mules each night.

inside-soul-gastrolounge cocktails


And one to watch…

The Crunkelton

Opening this fall

Classy cocktail bar targeting a fall grand opening in the space formerly occupied by Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find in Elizabeth.

This will be Gary Crunkleton’s second cocktail bar. The original Crunkleton on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill has garnered national attention, most recently being named one of the Six Best Bourbon Bars in the South by Garden & Gun magazine. It’s legit, and this is a big deal for Charlotte’s bar scene.

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).