Mar 22, 2022 - Food and Drink

15 best cocktail bars in Charlotte

Supperland cocktail bar

The cocktail bar at Supperland. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Whether you like them shaken or stirred, on the rocks or dirty, here are the go-to spots in Charlotte for a great cocktail.

Honorable mentions: Billy Sunday, Cotton Room, Backstage Lounge, Dogwood and Broken Spoke.

Related guide: 50 best bars in Charlotte, ranked

Bardo

Small plate restaurant in the Gold District loved by foodies

Why we love it: Bardo strikes the balance of serving sophisticated drinks and small plates while maintaining a come-as-you-are atmosphere.

What we’re drinking: Life’s Peach ($14) – Ketel One peach orange blossom vodka, Paul Masson peach brandy, Angostura cocoa bitters, orange, lemon and coconut vanilla milk.

Must-try cocktail: No Fig Deal ($13) — Old Forester Signature Bourbon, balsamic glazed fig, honey, bitters.

The Cellar at Duckworth’s

Speakeasy with a gastropub menu underneath Duckworth’s in Uptown

Bardo Restaurant
Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Why we love it: It’s the best of both worlds under one roof. The upper level has a sports bar feel with tons of TVs while the lower level has dim-lighting and a more intimate feel.

What we’re drinking: The Cellar Smash ($14) — Vodka, ginger, herbal flavor, citrus, elderflower.

The Crunkleton

Whiskey-forward cocktail bar and restaurant in Elizabeth

The Cellar at Duckworth
Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Why we love it: The original Crunkleton in Chapel Hill garnered national attention for its Prohibition-era cocktails. This location just builds on that with a top-notch food menu to match.

What we’re drinking: Penicillin ($15), made with whiskey, ginger, wildflower honey and lemon.

Membership: $10/year

Dilworth Tasting Room

Wine bar in a historic 1940s-era building with a courtyard garden

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bartender-serving-cocktail-at-the-crunkleton

Why we love it: The enchanting courtyard garden and outdoor bar feel like a faraway secret escape right in the heart of Dilworth.

What we’re drinking: Cucumber Fresco ($14) – Your choice of vodka or gin, cucumber juice, mint syrup and lime juice.

Dot Dot Dot

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

Why we love it: The unique atmosphere and exclusive vibe thanks to its location.

What we’re drinking: A classic Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig 10-year bourbon, bitters, sugar, orange and cherry served over ice.

Membership: $10/year.

Elsewhere

Craft cocktail bar from the Wooden Robot CEO, Josh Patton

stefan huebner dot dot dot
Co-owner and bartender Stefan Huebner
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Most popular Dot Dot Dot cocktails: Lily Wants a Pony ($12, left) and their Old Fashioned ($14, right).

Why we love it: The drink menu has a few core drinks but also has a rotating selection of cocktails inspired by a specific region or theme.

What we’re drinking: All aboard to Lake Louise ($15) – It’s made with empress gin, st. Germaine, lime, soda and garnished with mint.

Membership: $10/year

Fahrenheit

Charlotte’s go-to destination for showing off the city to out-of-towners.

Elsewhere Cocktail Bar
All aboard to Lake Louise cocktail. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Why we love it: The evening atmosphere is a major draw, but be sure to come back for their rooftop brunch on Sundays from 11am to 2:30pm.

What we’re drinking: Girls Just Wanna Have Rum ($20) – Plantation pineapple rum, lemon juice, ginger honey syrup, fresh pineapple, fresh ginger topped with a pineapple slice.

Haberdish

Southern-inspired restaurant in the heart of NoDa with a beautiful large bar area

Fahrenheit Rooftop
Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Why we love it: Innovative plates and drinks.

What we’re drinking: The Fruit Loops Mimosa. It’s made with house-made citrus cordial, Galliano herb and lavender liqueur and Cava brut.

Group cocktail: If you’re dining with a group, consider ordering the Happy Go Lucky Champagne Punch ($12/$25/$52) — champagne, vodka, gin, lime juice, grapefruit-blood orange tea syrup.

Idlewild

Customize a cocktail to your liking with expert recommendations behind the bar

haberdish pandemic cocktail kit
Haberdish punch bowl. Photo courtesy of Jamie Brown.

Why we love it: Here, the bartenders know what you’re going to order before you do. Just tell them your spirit of choice, and what your ideal palate is, and they’ll make you a one-of-a-kind cocktail. It has a dark, speakeasy vibe designed for a nightcap or an intimate date.

What we’re drinking: Whatever the bartender makes us. We’ve never had a bad drink here.

Background: Owner Vince Chirico chose to operate without a set drink menu, opting instead to let bartenders drive a custom experience according to a guest’s general taste preferences.

  • This style of bartending is an ode to famed bars in New York City like Milk & Honey and Raines Law Room, where Chirico worked as lead bartender.

Membership:  Idlewild operates as a private club so you’ll pay $1 for membership the first time you visit.

Merchant & Trade

Chic rooftop bar on the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel

idlewild cocktail bar in charlotte
idlewild-5
This Penicillin is topped with a traditional float of Laphroaig — a single malt scotch.

Why we love it: It’s Uptown’s swankiest rooftop with views overlooking Romare Bearden Park and Truist Field. The flexible, indoor/outdoor space features an indoor bar with floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor covered terrace, a semi-private VIP section and a sprawling “lawn” with a retractable roof.

What we’re drinking:

  • M&T Ol’ Fashion ($14) – Wild turkey 101 bourbon, Demerara Syrup, Angostura and orange bitters
  • Pink Slip ($16) – Ketel One vodka, ashwagandha, tangerine, hibiscus, rosehip, fresh lemon, Peychaud’s bitters and prosecco

Pro tip: In the winter, rent out their impeccably designed igloos.

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

Read more: 13 best rooftop bars in Charlotte

The Royal Tot

Two-story tropical-themed bar that’s a true urban oasis

cocktail-bar-at-merchant-and-trade-charlotte

Why we love it: There are great skyline views from the upstairs patio coined “The Bird’s Nest.”

Fun fact: Royal Tot has Charlotte’s largest selection of rums.

What we’re drinking: Mango Tango ($16) – Silver Rum, Blanco tequila, mango, passionfruit and hibiscus.

Sophia’s Lounge

Regal cocktail lounge at The Ivey’s Hotel

The Royal Tot
The Royal Tot. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Why we love it: The space is outfitted with opulent crystal and gold decor, statement chandeliers and unique artwork. Catch it on a good weather day when the windows overlooking 5th Street are open.

What we’re drinking: The Crown – Queen Charlotte Rum, fresh lemon juice, pineapple juice and vanilla-honey syrup.

Soul Gastrolounge

Cozy date night spot in the heart of Plaza Midwood

cocktail-at-sophia's-lounge-bar-in-charlotte

Why we love it: The intimate, no-reservations space drips cool with resident DJs spinning every night of the week. Plus, it’s a landmark restaurant for many Charlotte couples’ relationship milestones.

What we’re drinking: Skull Island – Plantation Pineapple Rum, Campari, Lillet Blanc, Saline and Banana Coconut Foam.

Pro tip: Inside Soul’s downstairs sister restaurant — appropriately named Sister — you’ll find Tattoo, a teeny speakeasy-style cocktail bar.

Spindle Bar

All-day cocktail bar at Optimist Hall

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Pork belly tacos are a must-order small plate at Soul.
inside-soul-gastrolounge cocktails
Soul’s beverage program is led by Kel Minton.

Why we love it: Fun setting for casual cocktails with friends.

What we’re drinking: Optimist Old Fashioned ($11) – bourbon, Benedictine and chocolate bitter.

Supperland

Classy Southern steakhouse with an adjoining cocktail bar and basement speakeasy

Spindle Bar Margarita
Photo courtesy of Spindle Bar.

Why we love it: Can’t snag a reservation at Supperland? Try the cocktail bar next door. The decor channels spring and the drinks are ever-rotating thanks to an expert team behind the bar.

What we’re drinking: The Jeffery – Made with El Jimador Blanco Tequila, Aperol, house-made grapefruit soda, lime and salt.

Pro tip: Reserve tickets for Supperland’s downstairs speakeasy for a true drinking and dining experience. Tickets for the tasting menu are usually around $115, and the space only holds 10 people so they go fast.

Related Axios story: 5 quick takeaways from my first visit to Supperland

*Editor’s note: This guide was first published in August of 2018 and was last updated in March of 2022.

tequila cocktails at supperland
The Jeffery cocktail at Supperland.
The Speakeasy at Supperland. Photo: Emma Way/Axios
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