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Cocktail and Wine Bars in the Triangle

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BryanZ Aug 24, 2007 05:10 PM

I'm newly turned 21 and am looking for serious cocktail and wine bars to expand my knowledge of the drink. Staying in Durham is ideal, but I'll travel for quality drinks.

In particular, I'm looking for cocktails bars with a focus on the craft behind the drink. Does such a place exist in the area? A wine bar with steady turnover, diverse selection, and a knowledgeable staff would also be nice.

Also, does anyone in Durham do serious wine tasting?

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    insectrights RE: BryanZ Aug 25, 2007 10:22 PM

    I've never encountered such a place in the triangle only for cocktails, but The Lantern, Piedmont, and some others will have interesting things. Enoteca Vin has a great wine selection and flights that can be tried for $2-4 for a small pour. And for knowledge.....buy a book and make some old school cocktails, they're hard to come by in the NC area.

    5 Replies
    1. re: insectrights
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      drawn RE: insectrights Sep 5, 2007 03:19 PM

      It's a different kind of place than some of the others mentioned - but the bar at Lantern in Chapel Hill is well worth the trip down 15-501. First of all, there's a sophisticated city vibe in the room. Secondly, the expertly mixed cocktails are intriguing tributes to the place's Asian influences.

      (oops, somehow missed the mention of Lantern. duh)

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      Lantern
      423 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

      1. re: drawn
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        brokegradstudent RE: drawn Sep 5, 2007 03:37 PM

        I love Latern's food, vibe, and aesthetic but man are their drinks mediocre.

        At least 3 different friends have remarked that the bartenders must have been hired for something other than their ability to mix drinks. They once served me a room temperature martini. I watched them make it: gin, dash of vermouth, stir, pour, all w/o ice.

        1. re: brokegradstudent
          LulusMom RE: brokegradstudent Sep 5, 2007 06:12 PM

          Huh. I'm surprised. I'm a pretty serious drinker, and I've never had a bad cocktail at the Lantern (although sometimes I think the prices are ridiculous, considering).

          1. re: LulusMom
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            BryanZ RE: LulusMom Sep 5, 2007 07:54 PM

            While I have a difficult time believing that ANY bartender would put together a martini without ice--if I had a nickel for every time someone told me that the ice and water are the most important ingredient in a cocktail...--the mere thought of a room temperature gin martini sends a shudder down my spine.

            The problem with my getting to C-Hill is that it involves driving. As we all know, drinking and driving don't mix. Furthermore, three out of the five drinks at Lantern are vodka-based. Nothing screams boring to me more than vodka-based cocktails. There's a rather ironic drink at the new NYC restaurant Tailor that's called bubblegum-vodka. To me, this drink is a reflection on the state of modern mixology in far too many locales.

            1. re: BryanZ
              LulusMom RE: BryanZ Sep 6, 2007 03:52 AM

              They should immediately card anyone who orders such a drink...

    2. peetoteeto RE: BryanZ Aug 25, 2007 10:56 PM

      BryanZ,

      Congratulations! Hope you're enjoying your new-found freedom.

      Beer! You're in a beer town...expand that brain and palate with ales and lagers!

      Okay, but seriously, check out how these guys are progressing: http://www.wineauthorities.com/

      And check out this thread:
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427174

      Cheers,
      Sean

      1. LulusMom RE: BryanZ Aug 26, 2007 11:30 AM

        In Chapel Hill the West End Wine Bar has impressively large wine menu that changes fairly often. You can get 3 different size pours (if memory serves me correctly - I normally just go by the glass). The place doesn't look like much, but there are always some good wines on the list and its a nice enough place to sit and drink. And now there is Glasshalful in Carrboro as well (although WE has a larger selection).

        Totally agree that Piedmont and the Lantern both have some great cocktails. And while I can't really recommend the food, Acme makes some good cocktails.

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          BryanZ RE: BryanZ Aug 26, 2007 11:52 AM

          I had a pretty solid drink at Piedmont last night. I tried three of their cocktails and found two to be "meh" but the one very, very tasty. It's called the Rose Marie and while not particularly complex, makes for a nice, herbaceously citrusy summer drink.

          It's gin, rosemary syrup, grapefruit, and a single maraschino cherry. Not shaken long enough and the glass wasn't chilled, yielding a cool but not cold cocktail, but something that has a lot of potential. I would've liked one more layer of flavor on the bitter end to give the drink more depth and body. Still, it was tasty.

          Wasn't too psyched on the limocello cocktail and thought the champagne cocktail was alright.

          2 Replies
          1. re: BryanZ
            LulusMom RE: BryanZ Aug 26, 2007 03:02 PM

            I tried one there last night too, and loved it. Vodka, mint, simple syrup and ... the last thing escapes me, but it was fantastic.

            1. re: LulusMom
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              BryanZ RE: LulusMom Aug 26, 2007 08:00 PM

              I vaguely recall seeing that drink on the dessert menu but not on the cocktail menu. It's kind of weird how they seemed be offering different drinks on the two menus. Perhaps it was on the normal menu, too, but I don't really go for vodka drinks so may have just skipped over it.

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            dubedo RE: BryanZ Aug 26, 2007 01:01 PM

            I enjoy the Friday night wine tastings at Southern Season. Each week focuses on a different region/grape/other theme, with usually 5 wines to try (plus cheese pairings) for $10-13 total. At least one or two of Southern Season's knowledgeable wine buyers are usually there if you want to learn more - if it's a regional theme, often they have travelled there. It's an unstructured, drop-in kind of event, and you can take it at your own pace, discussing the wine as much or as little as you like.

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              Nibbs RE: BryanZ Aug 26, 2007 06:23 PM

              Best cocktails I've had at a restaurant in the Triangle were at Bin 54. Jujube and Enoteca Vin also in the same league. And based on limited experience, Raleigh Times and Lantern. Also An in Cary.

              Not too many bars offer a good cocktail. Unless, like me, you take your 7 on the rocks. I guess that makes me easy to please...

              1. l
                like2run RE: BryanZ Aug 26, 2007 06:38 PM

                might want to hit enoteca vin in raleigh. they serve wine in different size glasses. you could try a lot of different wines in one spot

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                Enoteca Vin Restaurant Wine Bar
                350 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

                1. Tehama RE: BryanZ Sep 5, 2007 03:42 PM

                  Congrats on your birthday! When in a wine mood when visiting Raleigh, go to The Grape in Cameron Village for a wonderful selection, not to mention an articulate and pleasant staff: http://www.shopsofcameronvillage.com/...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Tehama
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                    strephking RE: Tehama Sep 5, 2007 08:24 PM

                    Tehama - i normally support UNC fans, but the Grape? No thank you. It's a franchise that should be called, "Wine for Morons". They don't even describe the wine; they just give you a little slogan such as "give this wine some time" or "think pink don't blink". give me a break. I don't thnk anyone learns anything from that.
                    West End has a knowledgeable staff; however, go early to miss the Sorostitutes.

                    1. re: strephking
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                      scarrie RE: strephking Sep 6, 2007 07:21 PM

                      I have not been to the Grape, but I saw some not-so-positive reviews on Greg Cox's blog: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/epicure...

                      1. re: scarrie
                        Tehama RE: scarrie Sep 9, 2007 08:18 AM

                        WOW.... that blog is awful, isn't it? I actually went there last night, too. I can't believe that I have been so lucky every time that I have been there compared to a lot of the other people who posted. The waitress, who I do have to agree was slow last night though that hasn't been my normal experience, suggested a wine for me. The manager recognized me, came over, asked what I was getting, and suggested another wine he thought I would like better - which was actually less expensive. Interesting.

                  2. FuzzyT RE: BryanZ Sep 13, 2007 07:35 AM

                    I realize it's outside of your local zone, but I have to recommend Jibarra. They've got a nice selection on top flight tequilas. Try a flight with a sangrita on the side. And the mixed drinks (mosly tequila based) that I've tried have been excellent. I think you'd also enjoy the atmosphere and service.

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                    Jibarra Restaurant
                    7420 6 Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

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