Where to drink in uptown? Depends on your hankering. Here’s a lineup of 10 notable places for 10 very different appetites, alcoholically speaking.1. For the creative cocktail: Halcyon at the Mint Museum. Maggie Ruppert comes up with some jaw-droppers, such as “The Bloody Merle” (Midnight Moon Moonshine, chef Marc Jacksina’s ham-hock-infused Bloody Mary mix, ham-hock-stuffed olives) and “The Mint’s Julep.” “Some Pig” remains my favorite: Maker’s 46 whiskey steeped with bacon + orange bitters + maple syrup = a drink fit for Charlotte. 500 S. Tryon St.; 704-910-0865; www.halcyonflavors.com. 2. For whiskeys of all sorts: City Smoke.From single-malt Scotches Laphroaig (la-FROYG) and Lagavulin (lagga-VOO-lin) to Kentucky bourbons Buffalo Trace and Jefferson’s Presidential 17 year, this lineup ranges far and wide. Yes, Ireland (Macallan’s 18 Year at $40 tops the pricing), Canada and Tennessee are also represented. 100 N. Tryon St.; 704-376-2295; www.sonomarestaurants.net/home/citysmoke-home. 3. For a lengthy and shifting list of craft beers, and the means to keep them cool: VBGB.This beer garden in the NC Music Factory neighborhood carries 30 beers on draft at all times (no bottles), and rotates the lineup daily – which means when you go tomorrow (after going tonight), you’re likely to find one to three new brews. Park your glass on the ice rail built into the bar and linger all you like. 920 Hamilton St.; 704-333-4111; www.vbgbuptown.com. 4. For wines by the glass: Urban Sip at the Ritz-Carlton.Gaze out onto the city from the hotel’s 15th floor, preferably over the rim of appropriate stemware, as you work through a remarkable by-the-glass lineup. Both 2.5-ounce tastes and 6-ounce pours are offered, making this the perfect venue for sampling (and the non-rich can try some crazy-expensive stuff, too, with those taste sizes: Opus One, anyone?). And if you overdo it? Get a room! 201 E. Trade St.; 704-547-2244; www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Charlotte/Dining/urbansip. 5 . For a classic martini, as well as other classics mixed with aplomb: e2.A comfortable and collegial smallish bar with comfortable tenders and sharp craftsmanship, including two sizes of ice cube and watchable cocktail-shakering that is darn near balletic. 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts; 704-414-4787; www.e2emerils.com. 6. For sparklers: Blue.Nearly two dozen each of Champagnes and other sparkling wines make this Bubble Central in uptown – and it’s set in a stylish and urbane below-ground-level setting, the better for those bubbles to rise picturesquely. 214 N. Tryon St. in the Hearst Tower; 704-927-2583; www.bluecharlotte.com. 7. For a wine list you can spend a long time drooling over: Luce.Big Italian wines from many regions and a smartly edited lineup overall are the selling points here for Charlotte wine geeks. You’ll find Barolos and Brunellos and blends, at a surprising (and welcome) variety of price points. 214 N. Tryon St. at the Hearst Tower; 704-344-9222; www.conterestaurantgroup.com/luce. 8. For one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor: Vida.Flights of tequilas. Separate category listings for blanco, reposado and anejo – the white, “rested” and aged forms of the drink, all of which (given the right quality) are sippable. It’s an agave lover’s aria. Don’t miss the spicy shots of sangrita that accent the first two forms beautifully. 210 E. Trade St.; 704-971-8432; www.vidacantina.com. 9. For those with a sweet tooth (and we mean sweeeeet): Crave.Here, the concoctions lean to the sugary – and so do the desserts. Drink specialties include the strawberry-honey mojito, Third Base (watermelon vodka, strawberry puree, soda and Sprite) and the Queen’s Crown (whiskey, peach schnapps, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice and muddled orange: whew). And that’s before you get to the martini list (example: “Banana Cream Pie”). Not sufficiently sweetened? Get a cupcake sampler. No, really. 500 W. Fifth St.; 704-335-0588; www.cravedessertbar.com. 10. For the sexiness of the ’cello (and a boundary cheat): Vivace.We’re slipping outside the I-277 boundary for this one, because these housemade ’cellos – limoncello, but also orangecello and limecello (strawberry and peach, seasonally, too) – are worth it. Not too sweet, but vibrant, and made into cocktails that are exceedingly refreshing. 1100 Metropolitan Ave.; 704-370-7755; www.vivacecharlotte.com.
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012
Cheers! Get creative with your cocktails
Helen Schwab is the Observer’s restaurant critic.
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