A great cocktail is very similar to a perfectly-executed dish.
The best bartenders use the freshest ingredients, measure them meticulously and understand that the slightest imbalance can be the difference between a one-time visit and a lifelong customer.
While the cocktail craze isn't for everyone, (sometimes a plain ol' domestic beer will do the trick) these five bars have mastered the art of cocktail creation and we highly recommend giving them a try. Our five faves, in no particular order:
Whiskey (Durham): Located on Main Street in downtown Durham, Whiskey was one of the original cocktail bars in the area. Expect to see owner Scott Ritchie behind the bar (with his signature mustache) mixing up fantastic drinks from a diverse list which includes over 350 types of whiskey.
Foundation (Raleigh): Foundation, located in the basement level of 213 Fayetteville Street, was excavated by hand and was the first of its kind in Raleigh. Foundation makes their own colas and squeezes fresh juice daily. Give the Tar Heel a try, made with their homemade Ginger Ale.
Fox Liquor Bar (Raleigh): Fox opened two months ago under the direction of New York bar owner Karin Stanley. One of the most unique cocktails on the menu is the Penicillin, built with a blended scotch whiskey, honey, fresh lemon, ginger, topped with a few eyedrops of single malt Islay Scotch Whisky, served "on the rock" and garnished with a candied ginger.
C. Grace (Raleigh): C. Grace, affectionally known as Grace, is the newest cocktail bar on the scene. At the helm is Matt Bettinger, one of the most creative bartenders in town, formerly of Foundation. The burlesque-inspired speakeasy is located in the Glenwood South entertainment district but Raleigh becomes a distant memory when you enter Grace's doors as you are immediately transported to a different world. Highly recommended!
The Crunkleton (Chapel Hill): Gary Crunkleton and crew have been serving up some of the finest cocktails on Franklin Street for years. Their specialty: classic cocktails with modern twists in an authentic, timeless setting.
We know everyone has their own "Cheers." So....what'd we miss, Norm?