Curating a complete list of where to indulge in bacchanal is close to
impossible.. Instead, we’ve compiled one with our favorite local watering
holes, from the fanciful to the more modest. They offer amazing libations,
of course, with a few pleasant surprisesfrom gourmet menus and hard-
to-find liquors to campy games and nostalgic snacks.

Victoria Bouloubasis and David Klein


16 East Martin Street, Raleigh

The bitter might refer to the thirty varieties of gin Bittersweet stocks (the most in the area). Cocktails are inspired by classics and coffee (try the espresso martini), artfully crafted with both standout liquors and seasonal ingredients. Imbibe the sweet in nostalgic riffs on favorite treats (such as the Thin Mint: vodka, mint liqueur, local chocolate milk), as well as desserts so beautiful it’s almost a shame to eat them. (Almost.) That, plus wine and a Bruce Willis-themed mural, will have you coming back for s’mores.
713 North West Street, Raleigh

Located in a former taxicab office, the Cardinal doesn’t try to stand out as a hangout for local beer, but somehow the hot dogs make it special. Braised in local brews and served with simple scrumptious toppings, these dogs are the perfect complement to a cold quaff and the ineffable communal essence every good bar has.
213 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh

This dark subterranean bar with exposed brick walls is known for stocking exclusively Southern-made whiskey and moonshine offerings and for signature drinks like the Basil Smash. The look is austere, but the vibe is warm, and the bartenders will create libations to suit your whims.
237 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh

Fittingly branded as a “drinking den,” this basement bar by star chef Ashley Christensen begs your attention. Classics like the Hemingway Daiquiri and new cocktail strongholds like the potent Penicillin round out a sleek menu shaken up by expert bartenders.
106 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh

The Triangle’s first mezcaleria upholds its commitment to stocking more mezcal than you can imagine, while maintaining an approach that’s inclusive toward libations and spirits of all sorts. If you want to explore some of the most beautiful, handcrafted, and cooperatively owned mezcal coming out of Mexico at the moment, you’ll find it here first (and, unfortunately, not at the ABC store).
327 West Davie Street, #102, Raleigh

Aside from splicing Mexican and Southern culinary traditions, the restaurant’s bar dabbles in throwing some fun into the (fresh) margarita mix. At brunch, ask for the elusive Breakfast Margarita, laced with a rim of crushed Fruity Pebbles. Or take a spin over to the bar later in the night for a grown-up Mexican-inspired cocktail, like the Mole! Fashioned with rye bourbon, tequila, piloncillo syrup, and house-made mole bitters. Hosting monthly Latin dance parties, Jose and Sons greets Raleigh with a hearty “Hola, y’all.”
117 East Hargett Street, Raleigh

Landmark is a friendly neighborhood spot with a graceful wooden bar and bartenders who’ll mix you a first-class cocktail, draw you a PBR on tap, and remember your name the next time you come in. A great place to start off your nightor finish it.
109 Main Street, Holly Springs

This elegant Mediterranean-themed vino emporium has a down-home feel and welcoming vibe. Niche’s vast wine-by-the-glass offerings are unmatched anywhere in the state, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and the venue often features live music.
4035 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh

Heaven on earth for bourbon lovers. The Oak stocks more than sixty varieties of the favorite Southern spirit, including in-house-aged varieties where you can “adopt” a barrel and be a part of the process. The adjacent restaurant gives bourbon-focused dinners an extra seasonal flair.
805 North Person Street, Raleigh

This handsome, sleekly designed neighborhood bar offers an array of fine local beers and quality cocktails, along with well-selected diversions including pinball and a jukebox befitting a city in love with great tunes. There’s also a game room and a large, dog-friendly back patio that’s perfect for day drinking.
120 East Chatham Street, Cary

This super-hip pub, which features oversize storefront windows, white subway tile, and an exposed wood ceiling, takes its beer seriously, with sixteen chrome taps of local goodness at the ready at all times. It may be trendy, but it’s pet-friendly and has plenty of outdoor seating.
14 East Hargett Street, Raleigh

Housed in an old newspaper office, the Raleigh Times no doubt served as a reporter’s makeshift ratskeller long before it became an official bar. With Barack Obama’s PBR can encased in glass at the bar and a renovated upstairs dining room, Raleigh Times has moved through history with ease. Its sidewalk tables offer the best views for downtown people-watching.
938 North Blount Street, Raleigh

With offerings like crispy pig’s head, Stanbury is foodie heaven for serious gourmands. And with that comes a rough-and-tumble service industry set who sidle up to the bar for warm, attentive service (on a day off) and a vigorously curated menu of libations. Find all the fun tricks of the trade in each glass, like sherry stirred into bourbon or an array of amari.
201 West Martin Street, Raleigh

Imagine an industrial-chic beer garden for whiskey lovers, and you’ll get a sense of this seat-yourself spot in Nash Square. Whiskey-wise, you can’t lose (try a flight), while the kitchen serves up straightforward hearty Southern fare like cracklin’ biscuits, chicken potpie, and the (unmissable) fried cauliflower.
616 North Person Street, Raleigh

At the warm and welcoming William & Company, the art of the cocktail is on luscious display. Hang out on a cozy couch and sip a craft cocktail from locally sourced spirits and ingredients that include freshly squeezed citrus juices and house-infused mezcalin winter, they’ll even supply a blanket. Pro tip: $3 tamales and tacos are often for sale behind the bar (the owners also own the El Taco Cartel bicycle cart).



108 North Graham Street, Carrboro

Good old-fashioned fun for grown-ups, The Baxter is a locally owned arcade with dozens of domestic and imported beers. Of course, the bar’s appeal is really its collection of fifty-five arcade games, from classic cabinets like Joust and Galaga to a glitzy variety of pinball machines.
106 North Graham Street, Chapel Hill

This bottle shop teaches us the most important lesson about beer: try it all and try it all with friends. Like our local breweries, Beer Study is laid back and community-minded. Cozy seating at its tiny bar spills out onto a small (dog-friendly) patio with picnic tables. (Its brand-new second location in Durham is worth a visit, too.)
705 West Rosemary Street, Carrboro

Head to Bowbarr if you’re looking for that proverbial mood-lit hole-in-the-wall that does everything right: the bartenders look you in the eye and pour a good drink as they keep the turntable spinning with records that suit the moment. Plus, there’s a photo booth tailor-made for when you feel like posing, several drinks in.
89 Hillsboro Street, Pittsboro

This is your best bet in Pittsboro for a lively, good-time joint that caters to regulars and features a good selection of local and national beers. Nothing fancy, but they make a solid pub lunch with some veggie options, and there’s regular drink specials and outdoor seating.
320 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

Looking for a civilized establishment to contemplate the sublimity of a fine old bourbon or cocktail poured with loving care? The Crunkleton is your place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a frosty Miller in a can. It’s forthrightly elegant but never stuffy.
203 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

Linda’s is a friendly neighborhood joint for townies and grad students alike. Pile into a wooden booth with some hungry pals and tuck into a plate of sweet potato tots or one of various “drunchies,” variants on cheese fries that feed a table nicely. Craft beer is the bar’s focus, with a “local wall” of drafts that are one dollar off every Monday and Wednesday.
307 East Main Street, Carrboro

Pub fare is not the same as a pub feeling, and the popular gastropub has them both. In a woody, no-frills atmosphere with wooden booths and a lowish ceiling, the vibe is friendly, the lineup of beers is huge and first-rate (from Germany to California), and the kitchen serves up a great burger.
108 East Main Street, Carrboro

Carrboro’s neighborhood standard has everything you’d want in a local: great beers on tap, a happening clientele, and a jukebox that could’ve been stocked by God herself. But it’s the attentive staff and unmistakably welcoming atmosphere that makes it one of the Triangle’s can’t-miss bars.
100 East Franklin Street, #3, Chapel Hill

Presiding above Franklin Street’s most charged intersection, this distillery/brewery/eatery is a destination spot. Seasonal beers rotate in and out with stalwarts like Kenan Lager and its own acclaimed TOPO organic spirits. And there’s a (reservable) back bar, too, with cask ales on tap, foosball, TV sports, and darts.
601 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

Looking for a place to enjoy a mood-lit glass of red for a first date? This subtly lit spot offers a range of seating and spaces for a conversational, not-too-loud portion of the eveningyou know, before all the craziness. (Its sister bar is in Durham.)
105 North Churton Street, Hillsborough

The Nickel is Hillsborough’s unofficial local. A cramped, lived-in space in all the best ways, with a worn wooden central rail dividing tables from the bar, the Nickel invites the meeting of kindred spirits. It proudly serves “good eats and swill” that’s a few cuts above basic bar food. (Think local fried pickles.)



106 MAIN

106 East Main Street, Durham

This is your no-frills neighborhood joint, like a slightly grungy Cheers, where you can count on an eclectic beer selection, daily drink specials, generous pours, and a friendly person behind the bar. Known as a service-industry hangout, so you know the vibe is chill.


320 East Chapel Hill Street, Durham

From the colorful array of top-shelf bottles to the bartenders wearing white shirts and bow ties and the ice cubes cut just so, details matter at Alley Twenty Six. But serious doesn’t mean snobby. Also, they make their own tonic, and it might be the best you’ve ever tasted.


108 East Parrish Street, Durham

This newly minted Durham social club is one of the least pretentious bars in town. The average price for a beer hits around $4; you’ll rarely pay more than $6 for a cocktail or glass of wine. They’ll do it all: mix a Jack and Coke or a Negroni, spin indie vinyl or dirty hip hop. Come as you are and mingle with a multifarious set of regulars until you become one yourself.


117 East Main Street, Durham

This stylish wine bar offers a discerning wine list at a range of price points. Take in a flight of wines (try the orange onesreally) or nibble on a charcuterie plate or a selection of olives. Life is good.


711 Rigsbee Avenue, Durham

You can definitely be yourself at this LGBTQ-friendly spot known for a welcoming ethos and an eclectic approach that keeps things lively with dance parties, karaoke, hookah nights, drag shows, and lots of drink specials.


105 South Mangum Street, Durham

With its warm and capable drink slingers, enviable collection of spirits, and imaginative seasonal cocktails, this clean, well-lighted place is ideal for enjoying a libation, an assortment of delicious house-made bar snacks, and maybe even some live jazz.


347 West Main Street, Durham

The richly polished wood bar and vintage booths provide an inviting atmosphere in which to enjoy a capacious list of beer offerings and an array of whiskey, scotch, and rye selections from a cushy barstool.


315 East Chapel Hill Street, Durham

The Durham delivers the upscale hotel-bar experience you’d expectgorgeous drinks, elegant food, pretty people. But quite unexpected is the view from the rooftop bar, which will dazzle you and offer a moment to savor.


723 Rigsbee Ave, Suite A, Durham

The food arm of the Motorco music venue, Parts & Labor, makes innovative, well-priced eats inspired by global street food. With that comes an array of local beers and a simple, fun cocktail menu that makes for an easy-going booze component to a laid-back brunch. The Bloody Mary (with bacon!) and the riff on the simple Paloma (a grapefruit beer mixed with tequila) are must-tries. Outside seating is ideal for people-watching.


703 Rigsbee Avenue, Durham

Catering to the craft-beer-loving, darts- and pool-playing crowd, Surf Club is ideal for those who like to drink and play simultaneously. It’s a complex of sorts, with various side rooms and am extensive outdoor section with picnic tables and large-scale amusements like bocce and shuffleboard.