Fresh basil, ready for muddling.
  • Jane Hobson Snyder
  • Fresh basil, ready for muddling.

One too many 98-degree days? Dive down deep—underground, that is—to Neptune’s Parlour, which just opened last week at 14 W. Martin St. in Raleigh, between Fayetteville and Salisbury streets. Just a few doors down from the new Capital Club 16, the subterranean Neptune’s is the first of three floors to open in what will be the long-awaited renaissance of Kings Royal Barcade.
Last night’s drink specials included a masterful Basil Gin Rickey in a mason jar: Fresh basil muddled with simple syrup, then Tanqueray, topped off with soda water ($7). It tasted like that moment at dusk when the sprinklers come on and splash the herb garden.
Another drink right out of the garden is the watermelon margarita: Agua Melon is $7 with Montezuma or $8 with 1800 Reposado. Or cool off the old-fashioned way: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale flows on one of the six taps, along with Mother Earth Endless River Kolsch.
Suddenly, one drinker clutching a glass of Bell’s shouts out, “Is that Spy Hunter!??,” catching sight of two hulking vintage video games in the shadows.
“It is,” says one bartender. “But a guy broke it last night — I think in frustration of not being able to get into the weapons van.”
“Oh, the weapons van,” nods the drinker knowingly. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
“Should be fixed tomorrow. There’s Time Pilot over there, that’s working.”
Another good excuse to come in out of the heat.