Charlotte has jumped on board the country’s mixology trend, but with a distinctly Southern twist. The city’s top restaurants and cocktail haunts are awash in creative drinks crafted from locally made moonshine. Mixing the famed spirit with sweet and fruity ingredients, bartenders have crafted these brews to be part potent, part nostalgic. Here are the five hottest spots in town for sampling the hooch:
Since its opening last year, this luxe spot in the center of uptown has drawn crowds to its modern bar, where white feathery pendant lamps and tall windows set the sexy scene. Pull up a stool to order its tantalizing take on the once clandestine spirit: The Caipa-Whiskah, a bracing drink created with limes, cucumbers, and white moonshine.
With 12 different varieties of moonshine on tap, there’s no shortage of stiff drinks at this retro bowling-alley-meets-restaurant. Grab a glass of the signature Blueberry Lemonade Moonshine cocktail and settle in on the sunny deck. Served in an obligatory mason jar and featuring sprigs of basil and a skewer of kumquats, it’s the perfect bright and boozy concoction for keeping cool this season.
Spicy fare may be the main attraction at Emeril Lagasse’s eponymous local spot, but this uptown restaurant’s sleek and stylish bar has quickly become a happy hour favorite since opening last year. Drinks such as the soothing, but lethal, Prickly Moon are stirring up the scene with innovative ingredients such as hibiscus syrup mixed with the prickly pear juice and moonshine.
Mixologist Maggie Ruppert makes magic in the form of locally sourced spirits at this chic restaurant. Her cocktails, which change seasonally, include innovative ingredients such as North Carolina-farmed arugula and even honeycomb. The latest libation? A crisp and heady combination of an Asheville, N.C. moonshine with lemon, strawberry coriander syrup and sparkling wine dubbed Sparkle ’n Shine.
If you prefer your moonshine with a side of nightlife, this watering hole is the prime place to take the plunge. DJs mix most nights in this lively second-story 1920s-themed bar. To add a sweet treat to your night out, order the Apple Pie Martini made with apple pie moonshine, vanilla vodka and whipped cream vodka.
Photos courtesy of 5Church, 10 Park Lanes, E2 and Halcyon