We asked you to call the shots and y’all rocked the vote for real. With more votes cast this year than ever before—NTM some super-heated races that came down to the wire—this year’s Best Bars Awards are Raleigh’s answer to where and what to drink for every thirst, occasion, or no reason at all. Basically, it’s your bar bible—or bucket list… or both. New this year, we introduced our Best Bartender category, where we asked you to crown the winner from a cast of 16 nominees via a highly curated list of top ’tenders in town—and people had plenty of “mixed drinks about feelings” for this one. So, pop some bottles and dive in to see if your faves made the cut. Cheers to the winners—and to all who voted. See you at the bar!
Best Overall Bar
With its fifth consecutive win for Best Overall Bar, Dram & Draught has drammed up a dynasty—see also the bar’s soon to be seven statewide spots. The Raleigh flagship that started it all casts a wide net with its casual-meets-chic cocktail “registered lubrication” haven nestled on the ground floor of One Glenwood, stealing the hearts—and palates—of all who have bellied up there from day one. The quintessential come-as-you-are neighborhood bar, Dram wows with its sliding ladder and library-esque shelves stocking 300+ whiskeys and top-notch spirits, seasonal craft cocktails, and well-curated beer list—NTM those friendly and talented ’tenders. Glenwood South, @dramanddraught
“Not a speakeasy, just low-key AF—there’s a food hall in our closet.” So goes the apropos ’Gram bio for this intimate low-lit lounge serving up vintage vibes with a side of fresh G&Ts (you won’t find a better one in Raleigh—promise) situated on the corner of Morgan Street Food Hall. With its fourth consecutive Best Bars Award, people are picking up what mixologist Greg Ewan and company are putting down—from housemade tonics to a plethora of gins (80+!), vermouths (ahem, 44) and absinthes dotting the shelves to myriad spirits (even wine, bubbles and sake in juice boxes. Yes, for real). Go for the creative concoctions, stay for the vibes—and be sure to snap in front of that ’Gram-worthy mural by artist Bryan Stacy. … Pardon us while we renew our gin membership. Warehouse District, @auntybettysbar
“You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath.” Clearly the secret is out about this hidden speakeasy—and we all remember it “all too well.” Down a steep staircase (so on brand) tucked under Caffe Luna is this dimly lit multiroom drinking den that nods to the underground spirit of Prohibition so well you actually feel like you should hide the juice. Booze-forward bevs and leather banquettes give the feel of a sexy unparalleled Gatsby meets Mad Men experience, while the light-strung ground-level back patio takes it next-level with romantic Euro vibes. In essence, it’s the bee’s knees. Moore Square District, @wattsandward
Best Wine Bar
Salud! Boasting one of the largest Spanish wine programs in the U.S., Barcelona Wine Bar (hence the name) serves up myriad award-winning globe-spanning sips from Spain to South America and beyond. While the varietals are no doubt a draw, the sexy-chic warm, welcoming and always buzzing “bodega” itself may well just be what has landed this bar on our list for the fourth time. Spoiler alert: Happy hour is v happy—and patio brunch is a vibe. Warehouse District, @barcelonawinebar
Where there’s a wine, there’s a way… and at five-time Best Bars winner Vita Vite’s two locations (North Hills, DTR) there’s plenty of ways to cheers to wine o’clock—whether you opt to chill solo with a glass of vino and a good book, gather the crew for charcuterie and a round or two, or split a bottle with your boo for date night. Pro tip: Join in on VV’s monthly book club to meet and drink with fellow bookworms and vino lovers. As they say, great minds drink alike. Midtown; Warehouse District, @vitaviteraleigh
“You’re the wine that I want.” … Find a wide selection of global artisanal wines and a team of grape-gifted wine enthusiasts at the ready to help you pinpoint the perf potable. Established in 2011, this sip spot relocated this spring from its home on Glenwood South to some new digs on Bloodworth, now touting space for an expanded wine selection, on-site classes, private events and an elevated by-the-glass program with a full wine bar open for tastings—with a huge patio to boot—perf to sip back and relax. How bottle-ful! Moore Square District, @raleighwineshop
Best Craft Beer Bar
Leveling up the local beer scene to the tune of national (and global!) acclaim is this Glenwood South District hops playground serving up 350+ beers on tap—with brews from right here in NC to varieties from all over the globe… and we’d tap ’em all. With multiple bars on-site, three (!) Guinness World Records in two categories, a mention in USA Today’s 2022 Best Beer Gardens list and now five Best Bars Awards, RBG has clearly more than proved its hoppy chops. Glenwood South, @ralbeergarden
Have a case of the spins? Then take us to your leader… or this tavern-style taproom will do. With hundreds of brews from right here in NC and across the globe, plus pub fare—we rec the Nacho Libre—Flying Saucer not only spins up fab food and drink but also touts Tuesday night trivia (IYKYK); a UFO club membership (Ring of Honor award, anyone?); and $4 Mondays, when every beer on the draft wall is, you guessed it, $4. … How out of this world. Warehouse District, @flyingsaucerraleigh
Those who love to mix up their sip seshes turn to this longtime bottle shop and tasting bar, which boasts a massive beer and wine collection (with bottles and cans added daily)—plus tastings for the indecisive and 10+ beers on tap to sip as you peruse. Now, BottleMixx is raising the bar—literally—with a rebrand (hey, The Mixx!) and an upgraded location in Duraleigh Corners in Northwest Raleigh. Rest assured, the laid-back vibes of the OG spot will remain—and Sylver, BottleMixx’s unofficial furry mascot, will surely still be around to help you sniff out great to-go options. Northwest Raleigh, @bottlemixx
Best Live Music Bar
“Shot through the heart”… and this lively live music venue/dive bar is probs to blame. A record shop by day and a bangin’ bar by night, this two-level (literal) pour house has been hosting local and nationally known bands since 1997—and continues to feature live music every night of the week. … And they will rock you. Moore Square District, @thepourhouse
It’s time to raise the roof… the Tin Roof, that is. With live music bumpin’ almost nightly on the stage setup downstairs, fab food and a rooftop patio, this Nashville-esque spot serves up good ol’ Southern flair and fun. Visit the lively Glenwood South joint to sing, dance and sway the night away—and on Wednesday nights, give your showmanship a try with a karaoke song or two. BRB, we’re phoning in American Idol. Glenwood South, @tinroofraleighnc
Tunes, mojitos, wine, tacos, fried cauliflower, espresso martinis, nachos—you can have whatever you like. For beats, booze and eats, Clockwork is the move. Travel back in time where the mood is always right, the food is simple, the ’tails are fresh and the sounds are timeless. Grab your dancing shoes—or grab a table. Tap Tuesdays in cal for Open Decks to showcase your talent (deets on the ’Gram)—and post up for live music and DJ spins on the regular. It’s all a damn fine vibe. While you’re at it, fuel the hustle with cocktails and nachos camachos—if you can handle the heat. And, yes, the trippy striped hallway (nod to the cult classic film for which the bar is named) is worth the trip alone. Glenwood South, @clockwork919
Best Bar Food
Two words: Times Nachos. The perfect drinking snack, Raleigh just can’t seem to get enough of ’em—and when the prominent sip and sup spot posted on Instagram they were doing away with the nachos on April Fools’ Day last year, the internet panicked (rude, honestly). … And we’d be remiss not to mention one other word: beer. The draft list spans IPAs, Belgians, sours, ciders and more that are perf for washing down those satiable snacks (see also the loaded sammies and burgers, street tacos, salads and other entrees). Extra, extra… eat—and drink—all about it! Fayetteville Street District, @raleightimesbar
When it comes to bar grub, this pub certainly, well, raises the bar—and satisfies alllll your tipsy cravings. Killer menu items include wings, Buffalo dip, spuds, mac ’n’ cheese (chili mac, seafood mac and breakfast mac—oh, my!), burgers, hot dogs, and more that make for the perf base for your next drinking sesh. Pro tip: Getting it your way includes scores of game day specials—and, on Mondays, you can get your flick on with the Raleigh Binho League. Game. On. Glenwood South, @mywayraleigh
Life of the paddy: found. Hibernian’s next-level pub grub has been feeding the Glenwood South scene since 2000 (and we can’t forget its well-loved locale in North Raleigh!). This popular pub wins for its range of authentic fare—from bar food basics like burgers, wings and fries to Irish staples such as shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, fish ’n’ chips, and Irish breakfast. Plus vast selects of beers and whiskeys that promise to give you the luck of the Irish—or at least a buzz—all best enjoyed anywhere at the multilevel hot spot. But you’ll find us on the second-floor patio bar noshing on nachos and people-watching. Glenwood South, @hibernianpub
Best Restaurant Bar
Oh my orbs! Situated in stylish surrounds, this modern Mediterranean kitchen dishes striking decor and divine eats—props to executive chef Saif Rahman. “Kast Away” over some Mediterranean mezze with the plantation pineapple rum-meets-housemade rhubarb Tiki sitch that will transport you—or any of the tasty ’tails or NC-driven beer list… never mind the globe-spanning varietals. We’ll have one of everything, please. Yamas! Glenwood South, @vidrioraleigh
“Welcome to our LabOROtory”... This aptly named elixir from Oro’s winter lineup all but sums up the restaurant and lounge’s sensory cocktail experience. Floor-to-ceiling window surrounds (a literal fishbowl) make the perf vantage point for sipping and peering from inside the PNC Building at Martin and Wilmington in this très chic bar area where fine flavors and majestic presentations collide to provide the perfect balance for a good “thyme.” The pours—NTM that 17-foot corner conveyor wine rack—provide a prime palate complement for the resto’s modern and innovative tapas and small plates. Hey, sharing is caring. “We found wonderland” indeed. Fayetteville Street District, @oro_restaurant
Big stans of Stanbury (also one of our 25 Best Restaurants in Raleigh) know the bar is the hottest seat in the house. Not only will you get face time with the crafty bartenders, but you’ll have a prime view of whatever the kitchen staff is cooking up that day—the menu changes constantly depending on what’s in season and available, as do the tasty libations. Pro tip: The best booze + food pairing, though, has to be using the bone from the delectable bone marrow dish as a luge to shoot back some bourbon or sherry. Seaboard & Person Street District, @stanburyraleigh
Best Bottle Shop
You can’t beat a beer and a sammie—especially when you’re on your lunch break from the office (kidding… *wink, wink*). A go-to casual DTR sip and sup spot, this Trophy Brewing concept has been putting Raleighites in a state ofeuphoria since 2014, thanks largely to those aforementioned sandwiches (hey, Smoke on the Water, Jive Turkey Club or Dusk Till Dawn!) and stellar wine and beer list. Post chow-down, peruse the shop’s many bottles and cans for sipping satisfaction for later. Capital District, @stateofbeernc
Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall… A Raleigh institution (and the city’s first bottle shop!) housing the most magnificent beverage on Earth—brews, obv—this tasty beer and wine store boasts bottles (and cans) for days, with new selects added on the regular. Belly up to the bar to cure what ales you with a pour of the rotating drafts on tap, then work on that six pack. Warehouse District, @tastybev_dtr
Hey there, hops stuff. Hopivores delight in this veritable hops garden on Glenwood serving up 300+ bottled & canned beers and 24 rotating drafts in a chill atmosphere that easily puts “house” in the name. Beyond the liquid therapy, there’s the always-hopping patio, on-site food trucks (Tue.–Sat.—but keep an eye on Sundays!), run clubs, trivia nights and more. In short, the 2014-born craft beer shop on Glenwood in Northwest Raleigh was so popular that the family-owned beer haven has already brewed up additional hops spots in McNeil Pointe and Pittsboro. Northwest Raleigh, @houseofhops_raleigh
Best Cocktail Bar
Named after owner Niall Hanley’s Irish aunt, Aunty Betty’s Gin & Absinthe Bar is a go-to for those looking for a well-made drink in a secluded yet vibrant environment. Belly up to the bar (or cop a squat on one of the cozy couches—dealer’s choice!) for over 84 gins from all over the world, six styles of tonic, 44 different vermouths, an array of absinthes (don’t knock it till one of the bartenders has properly taught you how to try it!), and other spirits. Let the cheers begin. Warehouse District, @auntybettysbar
At Willco (as the regulars call it), agave is the game, the vibes stay immaculate and those cocktails chalked up on the daily are unmatched. Whether you swing by for a casual ’tail early week (Marg Monday, anyone?), post up for tunes and ’tails on a Friday or Saturday night, or kick back on the patio for people-watching, this cozy neighborhood bar is always a good idea. And Thu.–Sun, make sure to check out Willco’s new back bar (read: mezcal haven), La Veladora: an authentic Mexican/Latin cavelike den dedicated to an authentic experience (think art, culture, relics and more)—with DJs spinning vinyls on Thursdays to kick off the weekend spirit(s).Seaboard & Person Street District, @willcobar
*Drowning in cocktail dreams.* If mixology is an artform, meet the artists. Beyond the boozy concoctions, adult vibes and stylish scene (she’s stunning, y’all) that landed this hooch house its fifth Best Bars Award, dope DJs and open mic nights also bring the heat. From more tranquil Tuesdays to R&B Fridays, it’s always a happy hour at The Haymaker. Fayetteville Street District, @haymakerraleigh
Best Whiskey Bar
If whiskey is the question, a dram at Dram is the answer. When you picture 300+ selects spanning the globe (there’s even a binder) and a schooled staff, perhaps you picture stuffy. But that’s the magic of this whiskey den. It may anchor a tower and invite the sophisticated Don Draper types with its talented tipples and tipplers—but its unpretentious all-are-welcome neighborhood vibe is just as inviting to the newbie and novice… no doubt why it’s topped our Best Bars list since the day it bowed in 2016. Glenwood South,@dramanddraught
If you’re ISO of a neat night out, look no further. This five-time Best Bars Awards-winning whiskey bar not only touts terrific hooch (choose from about 600 or so whiskeys) and superb craft cocktails, but its creative Southern fare and hip atmosphere make it all the more attractive for a day or evening out. Adding to the appeal, WK‘s rollup garage door setup allows the spacious dining room to open onto the uberpopular patio decked out with umbrellas and string lights (and heaters in winter). Pro tip: An alfresco brunch is always the answer. Warehouse District, @whiskey.kitchen
Laying the foundation for Raleigh’s bar scene as the first craft cocktail bar to open in Downtown, this time-honored moody subterranean watering hole tucked beneath Fayetteville Street has now been shaking up the scene for 13 years—and has landed on our Best Bars Awards six times (!). In addition to its stellar craft cocktails that continue to up the game, real ones know that Foundation’s vast whiskey selection is where it’s really at, with a #WhiskeyOfTheWeek highlighting some of their fave bottles. Whiskey business, indeed. Fayetteville Street District, @foundation_bar
Started as a small 14-seat bar on West Morgan Street, this award-winning brewery has since grown to three additional locations (Trophy on Maywood, State of Beer and Young Hearts Distilling) and touts a laundry list of house brews under its belt—plus five Best Bars Awards. But while Trophy may be spreading its wings throughout Raleigh, the team still holds true to their OG mission: to create fantastic brews while pushing the NC beer scene forward. And we can all agree they’re doing just that. Gold stars all around! Multiple locations, @trophybrewing
Enter the best cycologist in town… perf for your next hops sesh. Beer love and bike love collide at this divey Warehouse District open-air taproom and patio serving best-in-class brews. And Raleigh is never “two-tired” for it—hence Crank Arm’s fourth Best Bars win… a chain reaction, if you will. Regulars roll up (usually literally) for a cold brew—hazy IPA Road Hazard is a fan fave—but beyond pints are events aplenty, a CAB race team (natch) and ubercool “weird can art” by local design firm Saturday’s Gravy worth sidling up for. Warehouse District, @crankarmbrew
“Nothing compares to brew” at this six-time Best Bar Award winner serving up “locally brewed, lovingly crafted” sips that satisfy in its two hopping Lynnwood locales. Over in Dock 1053, “LBC” (aka Lynnwood Brewing Concern) is a go-to for its open-air taproom with rollup garage doors and large fam- and fido-friendly beer garden. Uptown, Lynnwood Grill delights with #brewedoutback beers, fab fare and good times. Five Points, @lynnwoodbrewing; Northwest Raleigh, @lynnwoodgrill
Coming for the title of Raleigh’s best rooftop patio is this elevated (literally) bar and lounge atop the AC Hotel Raleigh Downtown, which topped out the Glenwood South scene late 2021. And before you knock it for being a hotel bar—this terrace in the sky isn’t just a ’Grammable spot to take pics of the DTR skyline (but, hey, go off!), it’s also an already-proven (and popular) destination for primo cocktails and delish small and large plates—with rotating events in collab with local businesses to boot. We rec chilling by the fire—if you’re lucky enough to get a seat—for the best views of DTR… and local artist Taylor White’s eye-catching “From the Ashes” mural… which is pretty ’Gram-worthy itself tbh. Glenwood South, @thewillardraleigh
“Started from the bottom now we here”—here being the succulent rooftop lounge that is Highgarden. In addition to offering expansive views of Glenwood South (aka peak people-watching on point), this open-air oasis feats. cozy cabanas surrounded by greenery that makes for the perf spot to perch with a bev above DTR. If you’re going with a group, you’re gonna wanna order the G&T tree (aka five G&Ts mixed to perfection) that’s as ’Grammable as it is sippable. … On cloud nine and feelin’ fine! Glenwood South, @highgardenraleigh
Alexa, play “Level Up.” Located at the top of the AC Hotel in North Hills, this elevated space serves up European-inspired small-bites and sophisticated sips from small-batch distillers and single-vineyard labels, and a bevvy of rock star brewers. Just pop in the elevator and press No. 7 for brews and views of North Raleigh. … It’s time to take the night out to new heights. Midtown, @level7rooftopbar
Subterranean is sexy—and just off the corner of Blount and Hargett is the best place to go all Gatsby incognito and duck down an inconspicuous flight of stairs into this sprawling dimly lit 1920s Americana speakeasy dotted with leather and candles for a spirit that still feels criminal—in the best way. Fun fact: Watts Act (1903) and Ward Law (1905) “set out to crush the free spirits” of our state—thus the Watts & Ward name (and spirit) nods to the lively underground bootleg era—and Raleigh is here for it. Pro tip: The Moonrider will set you over the moon. Moore Square District, @wattsandward
Turns out secrets do make friends. Inside always-buzzing Architect is a bar behind a bookcase so spot on it landed on Thrillist’s best speakeasy in the world list (!). Behind the second-floor hidden door and heavy curtain—which was once, wait for it, an architect’s office—one of Raleigh’s (and the world’s) best-kept secrets unfolds via Local Icon Hospitality’s cozy respite. Its name no doubt a nod to the “green light” that kept Gatsby going, the subtle-meets-sexy Prohibition-esque parlor serves up second-to-none booze-forward concoctions overlooking bustling DTR that promise to intrigue and delight every sipster, from the casual to the curious to the cocktail connoisseur. Moore Square District,
Snagging a key to this 25+ exclusive basement bar—and third-year Best Speakeasy winner—is like getting keys to the kingdom… of creative craft cocktails that is (NTM the cool factor that comes with a membership). To gain access, scurry through an inconspicuous door behind Pelagic and make your way down the stairs past the “No Vacancy” sign—if it’s on, you’ll have to come back another time. Unlike Jason Howard’s other bars (The Cardinal, Pink Boot), Atlantic Lounge boasts a more upscale vibe, complete with moody lighting, intimate booths and a record player (BYO vinyl!), that elicits a casual-cool Alice in Wonderland feel. Down the rabbit hole you go! Seaboard & Person Street District,
Best LGBTQ Bar
Felt cute—won’t delete ever. Setting—and sating—the epic thirst trap is Raleigh’s longtime go-to LGBTQ party palace. … Us: Best bars? Legends: Hold my wig! … One of the best bars in town—bar none—the sprawling nightclub complex shines with neon lights and pulsing music, drag shows, the patio, a spotlight theater and game room, and more. It’s the see and be scene. … Then there’s The Tuck, Raleigh’s first “gay twist on a speakeasy” tucked ever so aptly under the pink lips above a patio door and serving up Spotlight Diva Cocktails on Fridays and Saturdays. Legendary, really. Warehouse District, @legendsraleigh
It’s always glitter hour at the sparkle dungeon, where hes, shes, theys and everyone in between gather for Raleigh’s wildest and brightest variety of live music, drag shows and dance parties—think bikini bingo, amateur burlesque night and “karaoke for queers.” Don’t miss Drag Brunch every Sunday, when a rotating cast of performers slay the stage while DJ Yamillionaire spins tunes. … And you best believe when they walk in the room they can still make the whole place shimmer. It’s giving bad b*tch energy. *Flips hair.* Fayetteville Street District, @rubydeluxeraleigh
Ready to taste the rainbow? Dubbed Raleigh’s neighborhood “gay/straight/whatever bar and club,” this inclusive basement bar is nestled right in Raleigh’s “gayborhood,” and its DTR digs isn’t all that it’s flexin’. From karaoke and drag shows to country dancing, this watering hole is sure to leave you intoxi-gay-ted—trust us. Warehouse District, @flexnightclub
Best Dive Bar
You won’t find any froufrou cocktails or bow-tied bartenders at DTR’s oldest music venue. What you will find are some of the cheapest drinks in town, a designated smoking patio that’s the hot spot nightly, an upstairs lounge with a pool table, and live music (natch) almost every weekend. And the best part? You could practically almost touch the band from a seat at the bar—which also happens to be decked out with pics of music legends, plus other random memorabilia (call it character). Rock on! Moore Square District, @slims_tagrams
Let’s party like it’s 1888! As the name would suggest, this speakeasy-esque casual-meets-classy bar harkens back to the 19th century—with moody lighting and old-school details a la exposed brick walls, a dark mahogany bar and bright red leather booths playing up the cool factor (NTM the hidden patio in the back). But its billiards area is perhaps its biggest draw—where regulars and first-timers alike can socialize over a game or two. Rack ’em up! Warehouse District, @circa1888raleigh
Lower your expectations for The Cardinal—seriously (but in a good way, of course). The “dive bar with a sneaky-good hot dog” is just that, but it def delivers. A go-to cool, casual and unpretentious watering hole by design, Jason Howard’s OG bar is decked out in kitschy decor that sets the scene for “spirits and everybody” (plus beer, but you’ll only find a few classic bottles and cans behind the bar)—see the funny little signs on the walls throughout like “Please don’t ask a lot of questions.” Those hot dogs, though—steamed in beer and served on a New England-style bun—will most certainly exceed your expectations. … And don’t sleep on the “front to back shot,” aka pepperoncini-soaked vodka chased with bloody mary mix. Spicy! Smoky Hollow, @thecardinalbar
This place stays pack-ed for a reason. A fan-fave (literally) for game day and every day, this six-time Best Bar Award winner situated about a block from the NC State Belltower “where the keg of kindness never runs dry” has been feeding fans and locals best-in-class bar food since 1951. (Find a better burger, we’ll wait. And we’ll be waiting till the cows come home.) Pro tip: The PR patio is a local treasure—complete with TVs (!). Hillsborough Street Corridor, @theplayersretreat
You don’t even need a wingman for the “best damn wings in the Triangle” (we vouch for that—so popular Woody’s Wing Wagon made the NC State Fair this year). Nestled on a corner in City Market for three decades (nee 1993), this juxtaposition of a classic, lively and uberauthentic sports bar situated off quaint cobblestone streets only adds to its charm. With additional locations in Cary and Morrisville, the go-to DTR sports bar is known for its loyal fans, come-as-you-are attitude, weekly live music (Fri./Sat.), trivia nights and music bingo (!)… and damn fine winning grub (obv)—never mind that extensive booze selection. Moore Square District, woodysportstavern.com
“So, uh, you play the beautiful game… bros… brothers… brethren?” … Whether you’re into watching or playing games, this “not a sports bar,” founded by the Amra brothers claims a new category of game day restaurant serving its patrons with good grub and a sweet spot to catch the game. Think a slew of TVs to catch whatever team you’re rooting for, a game room and fresh fare to satiate those cravings—case in punt: its Southern classics with a spin, mouthwatering entrees and apps (be sure to snag some Wolfpack wings) and healthy choices, to boot. Belly up here to have—and maybe play—a ball. Glenwood South, @tobaccoroadnc
Best New Bar
Shaking up the scene at Brier Creek when it bowed this past winter, this artisan handcrafted cocktail concept from V Pizza’s Anthony Rapillo quickly won over the crowd—obv. Giving liquid pleasure to the veritable drink desert—NTM nearby locals (and big-box shoppers) a true non-chain cocktail bar-meets-community vibe that you’d usually associate with DTR—Flask wins with its intimate vibe, sensational sips and alfresco feels (two glass walls, one of which is a garage door that opens to the massive patio). Checkmate. Northwest Raleigh, @flaskcocktailbar
Can we cheers another sup spot in North Raleigh?! Clearly the locals dig it (ahem, this award). From a team of locals—hence the name—with a love of craft beverages, this shop strives to be a space for social gatherings, events, hangouts, game days and more. And keeping with the theme, Local 919 focuses its offerings close to home with NC craft drinks (s/o 919, y’all), but also reppings ops from as far as across the pond. Hoppy trails to you! North Raleigh, @local919_raleigh
Best Patio Bar
As Rihanna once said, “you know I got the sauce.” … And so too does this hustling and bustling Glenwood South bar, aka the hottest newish spot for sipping, lounging, dancing and playing (Jenga, pinball, pool). Venture out to the faux grass-covered and heated patio for a game or two of jumbo chess or cornhole—the one time when saying “hold my beer” is highly encouraged—then cozy up in front of a fire pit to sway to the likes of Lizzo, Taylor Swift and Queen Ri Ri, natch (the playlists really are top-notch). Glenwood South, @theavenueraleigh
Wye fight it—Wye Hill’s got the best patio in town (and the best view of the city skyline), and clearly y’all agree, as this is the brewery and restaurant’s fourth Best Bars win since it opened in 2019. The complete package, this always-hopping hops spot rounds out an impeccable experience with “righteously good people, plates and pours.” We’re talking rotating house brews, colorful craft cocktails, a bangin’ brunch and addictive chef-driven bar food (see: the Everything Brussels that’ll turn even the most picky eater). By now, stopping in at the popular spot feels just like going over to your best friend’s place. Righteous, indeed. Warehouse District, @wyehill
Vibe: perfect. Attitude: Worth it. An oasis hidden in plain sight, this “bar in a hotel in a city in a forest” serves up boosters that don’t req. appointments—best served on that light-strung year-round fire pit-and-heater-dotted patio with unparalleled skyline vistas and feels-like-home patio furnishings. … And for the perpetually chilly—blankets! Peep Insta for periodic events and music. Bonus: If you drink one too many, your sip sesh can segue into a staycation. Capital District, @thelongleaflounge
Best Bartender: Colby Kress
Dram & Draught
Our inaugural Best Bartender award proved to stir things up (pun intended), with a heated comp between 16 talented noms that came down to the wire. But it was fan-fave Colby Kress of Dram & Draught who landed the W (!). A Rochester, NY, native, Kress was working at Bittersweet as a dishwasher when he learned the ropes of bartending—and before joining Dram in February 2020, he tended bar at Johnson Street Yacht Club and Wye Hill. Make sure to request a negroni from him the next time you stop in to our Best Overall Bar winner!
Fave drink to make?
Least fave to make?
Your go-to drink order?
Rum and Coke
Fave bar (not your own)?
Fave Raleigh restaurant?
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tikiby Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate
What show are you currently binging?
Sex and the City
What you do when you’re not working?
Go out with friends, shoot some pool
Advice you would give to current/future bartenders?
Always keep learning new techniques and recipes.