Fun fact: Fox Liquor Bar is named for Ashley Christensen’s dad—an homage that plays out in stirring style across the famed underground bar’s updated decor. Reopening May 19, the little bit retro, lotta bit Raleigh bar tucked under Beasley’s with its “well-loved and lived-in” space that rewrote the local bar scene when it first bowed is back after a long closure—leaning into its legacy with a few vibey, playful tweaks that’ll keep you coming back to duck downstairs and sip on, say, the Cornershop Hideaway (dark rum, mezcal, agave, cocoa bitters).
Since we’d expect nothing less from AC—or FLB—the cocktails will be mixed mastery, the bites will be bangin’ (Carolina reaper fries on repeat, please), and the service will be polished and impeccable. And, perhaps as you may have guessed, there will be a top-notch spirit-free program—because the space really should be for everyone, whether you’re sober, sober curious, dry month-ing, DD’ing or just not feelin’ it. A little “Kindness & Curiosity” (rosemary, citrus, salt) sure never hurt no one.
In front of the reopening, we chatted with AC about all our burning questions—from niche to nostalgia.
When Fox Liquor Bar first opened as a sexy subterranean den with its chic atmosphere, cool ice and New York vibes, it was a game-changer. What’s the vibe now? I’d describe it as comfortable, cozy, a little bit retro and fun. We want it to feel more like Raleigh than New York. It’s also more personal to me since a lot of the art on the walls is in some way a thematic homage to my dad—whom the bar is named after.
What’s the inspo for the refresh? We kept coming back to the phrase ‘well-loved and lived in.’ Fox isn’t ‘new,’ and we wanted to acknowledge the history of the place while still giving it a refresh. So the inspiration has been about emphasizing the connective tissue to Beasley’s upstairs, the legacy of our previous cocktail programs, and marrying that with a vibe that feels a bit lighter, more playful, more fun (thus, the shuffleboard table).
What was the guiding factor to reopening now? We’ve been focused on reopening slowly; each of our restaurants relaunched with limited hours and added more slowly. We wanted to add Fox when we were feeling really solid about our operations upstairs, and also solidified in the new direction downstairs.
You know we’re all wondering—will you still have that now-famous ice program? We care about the components of every drink, so ice is still a factor, though not as much as it was previously. There are other bars in the city really focused on their ice program, so it’s not a niche we feel like we need to fill anymore.
Will you have a zero-proof program? Since so many people are abstaining from alcohol (myself included), I am incredibly excited about having some really great zero-proof options. I think our current menu really meets that need in a delicious, creative and welcoming way. Having options like Seedlip and Lyre’s to create complexity and depth in a zero-proof cocktail is a real game-changer. Much more to come in this arena!
Does the updated design lean to group vibes or more like the OG intimate setup? Hopefully both! One of the things I love about the space is that it has different spots to serve what you’re looking for—big six-person booths for a group or an intimate set of bar seats in the corner for something more intimate.
Something new that would surprise us? There are some old faves from Beasley’s and Chuck’s that have made their way onto the downstairs menu—the fried shrimp with roasted tomato remoulade, and the cumin-fried black-eyed peas, for example. I think people will also be surprised when they realize we’ll be open at noon on the weekends!
Photo courtesy of Lauren Vied Allen