We have a crazy attitude toward drinking. It’s legal, but you can only buy hard liquor at state-run stores. We want our teens to learn to drink responsibly, but we make it illegal for parents to supervise their drinking at home. We make alcohol taboo for most of students’ college years, then wonder why they become so obsessed with it.

The fact is, drinking is enjoyable–good wines, beers and whiskeys have unique tastes, clever cocktails make them taste even better, and, yes, if we drink a couple of them a little faster than our bodies can absorb the alcohol, they give us a nice buzz. Add to that the social pleasure of having a drink while listening to music at a club, hanging out in a bar with friends, or just visiting a restaurant with your family, and it’s one of the nicest social institutions we have. Like many things, abused and overused, it’s dangerous. Enjoyed in moderation, it’s fun and even healthy.

We’ve put together this issue to help you enjoy the range of clubs, bars and restaurants available in the Triangle. We haven’t focused on a lot of the fancy places that have opened in hot spots like Glenwood South in Raleigh or Southpoint mall and Ninth Street in Durham. You know about those. Instead, our intrepid reporters were asked to find some of the out-of-the-way spots you may not have heard of, like Yancy’s blues bar in Raleigh, the Last Chance Tavern outside Durham and Burkenstock’s Bar and Grill in Wake Forest.

You don’t have to try them all in a few nights as our brave reporters did (and we don’t really recommend it). But there’s a sense of discovery when you find a great bar you didn’t know about. Just be sure to drink moderately, have a designated driver, and leave a nice tip for the bartender.
–Richard Hart