Charlotte’s craft cocktail menus are in full bloom this season. Floral liqueurs like St. Germaine elderflower and Crème de Violette have long been essentials behind many creative bars, but these days those seeking a sip will also find fresh floral flavors like honeysuckle vodka or hibiscus syrup.
Looking for a booze-meets-bouquet elixir? From roses bathed in gin to jasmine shaken with vodka, these 10 delicate drinks offer flower power with a potent twist.
A Kiss From a Rose
If you were going to stop and smell the roses, Fahrenheit’s rooftop is a good spot to start. Indulge in this aromatic drink made with North Carolina’s Covington Vodka, house-made lemonade and rosewater as you soak in the skyline view on a warm spring night. And with its rose dust rim and floating petals, this cocktail looks handpicked for romance.
222 S. Caldwell St. 980-237-6718; www.chefroccowhalen.com/fahrenheit-charlotte.
The Bernheim Blossom
At first sip, you may not catch the floral notes in this bold mix of Bernheim whiskey, Cointreau, St. Germaine and orange juice. But the soft flavor of elderflowers from French liqueur St. Germaine is what makes this libation stand out at Cotswold’s Improper Pig. And its floral sweetness is what makes it perfect for pairing with some of the menu’s more savory bites, like smoked chicken wings or twice-baked jalepenos.
110 S. Sharon Amity Road. 704-714-7878; www.theimproperpig.com.
When Bob Peters is behind the bar, expect the unexpected – even when it comes to the most classic cocktails. In the 15th floor Punch Room’s take on this drink Peters takes the usual ingredients – gin, fresh lemon juice, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and crème de violette – then uses a carbonation system to create a fizzy version. It’s a new twist on nostalgia, which seems especially appropriate in this chic interpretation of a 1920s drinking den.
201 E. Trade St., 15th floor. 704-547-2244; www.ritzcarlton.com/en/properties/Charlotte.
It’s only natural that a restaurant dedicated to flavors from the garden would be serving up a spring cocktail made with flowers and herbs. This freshly picked concoction at Fern features Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, a splash of Aperol, homemade ginger syrup, ginger beer and fresh mint. The ginger makes it refreshing and effervescent, while the honeysuckle and mint make this taste like a libation designed for a warm porch on a summer night.
1323 Central Ave. 704-377-1825; www.fernflavors.com.
Consider this the flowery answer to the supreme summer sip, the Pimm’s Cup. Ballantyne’s Gallery Bar version features a citrusy sweet mix of Pimm’s No. 1, lemon and agave, with the fragrant addition of orange blossom tea. It’s a sunny drink – in looks and flavor – and ideal for enjoying al fresco on the restaurant’s patio with views of the resort’s lush golf course.
10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway. 704-248-4100; www.theballantynehotel.com/dining/gallery-restaurant.
Sometimes the most sensuous cocktails are also the most simple. At SouthPark’s Baku restaurant, indulge in this sparkling mix of prosecco and candied hibiscus syrup. And while the bubbly concoction is perfect for sipping in the sexy upstairs lounge, it’s subtle in its seduction. The flower’s syrup creates a deceptive sweetness, but the prosecco kicks in fast.
4515 Sharon Road. 704-817-7173; www.baku-restaurant.com.
Don’t let the name scare you. Kindred’s bracing mix of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and lavender bitters has a bite, but it’s the kind you’ll enjoy. Snag one of the sleek leather stools at the white marble bar and watch the work of talented mixologist Kenny Hanlon at this new Davidson restaurant. His drinks, like this one, are new school classic – not too sweet or over-the-top strong, but balanced and full of refreshing flavor.
131 N. Main St., Davidson. 980-231-5000; www.kindreddavidson.com.
Jasmine Ginger Martini
This international twist on the classic martini at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar evokes images of warm tropical nights with its jasmine fragrance. Made with vodka, jasmine-infused sake, ginger liqueur and freshly squeezed lemon, it’s a perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s inventive sushi options. Just don’t be fooled by its alluring color and elegant presentation – this drink is a deliciously potent potion.
4310 Sharon Road X05. 704-365-1922; www.thecowfish.com.
Leave it to the always-edgy Soul Gastrolounge to create a floral cocktail that comes with fire. This spring drink features Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, fino sherry, expressed orange oil and a flamed orange peel, making watching its prep half the fun. But once you’ve watched, grab a table on the popular second-story patio. Any drink with honeysuckle and oranges is made for sipping in the sun.
1500 Central Ave. 704-348-1848; www.soulgastrolounge.com.
Just in time for warm weather, the classic Old Fashioned takes a modern turn with The Asbury’s bold floral interpretation of the whiskey cocktail. Made with Knob Creek, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, Angostura bitters and grapefruit zest, it’s as tasty as the original, but with an extra spring in its step. Which only seems fitting in a stylish, contemporary restaurant housed in uptown’s most historic hotel.
235 N. Tryon St. 704-342-1193; www.theasbury.com.