Raleigh has a diverse cocktail bar scene. There’s a chic cocktail lounge on every other corner of downtown, so narrowing down the best bars in Raleigh, North Carolina, was no simple task, but I think I managed.
Below are some of the hippest lounges to grab a drink and bask in the curated ambiance of Raleigh.
200 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Watts & Ward is a chic speakeasy on Fayetteville Street, across the street from Moore Square. Watts & Ward draws on design language from the height of prohibition.
The art deco inspiration creates a warm vintage ambiance that pairs nicely with Watts & Ward’s artisanal cocktails.
Watts & Ward has an elegant, refined, and studious vibe suitable for armchair philosophizing and quiet contemplation. The venue also offers room rentals if you prefer privacy.
1 Glenwood Ave Suite 101, Raleigh, NC 27603
Dram & Draught is located in the Warehouse District on Glenwood Ave, and W. Morgan St. Dram & Draught features a chic-70’s retro-inspired ambiance that pairs well with their wide selection of local brews.
Dram & Draught has a relaxed vibe where patrons can feel comfortable ordering a specialty drink or a beer and whiskey shot (also called a boilermaker).
Dram & Draught occasionally features live events, so check their website for upcoming gigs. Or better yet, stop in for a beer and ask them yourself.
213 Fayetteville St Ste 010, Raleigh, NC 27601
FOUNDATION is located on Fayetteville Street, two blocks from Moore Square (or two blocks from Nash Square, depending on where you’re coming from). FOUNDATION is a hip underground cocktail lounge.
Stepping down the stairs into the lounge feels like entering a movie. The dim lighting and dark tones make the space feel sleek, cozy, and slightly edgy.
FOUNDATION’s vibe is relaxed. Patrons can feel at ease ordering a cheap beer or an expensive cocktail. Foundation is best for a quiet night out alone or with a significant other.
108 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601
The Green Light is located at a hop, skip, and jump from Moore Square, but you might have trouble finding it because this venue is hidden.
In traditional speakeasy fashion, The Green Light is hidden in plain sight inside what used to be the office of an architect.
Although the secret speakeasy entrance is kitsch, it lends itself to a certain childish nostalgia associated with feeling hidden.
The Green Light is a moderately priced bar serving cozy cocktails and regional beers. Keep your eyes peeled for the bookcase door, and stop in for a unique drinking experience.
555 Fayetteville St #115, Raleigh, NC 27601
The Haymaker is located on Fayetteville Street, south of Moore Square. The Haymaker is a cocktail lounge with a twist like other bars in the Fayetteville Street Zone.
The Haymaker is a private club that requires its patrons to become members before being served. Don’t worry. Initiation rights are minimal. Just fill out your information on The Haymaker website ahead of time, and you’re good to go.
16 E Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Bittersweet is a chic cafe pairing seasonal cocktails with decadent desserts. Bittersweet is located in the heart of downtown, making it the perfect after-dinner stop for a treat.
Bittersweet’s offerings are top-notch. In-house chefs bake the pastries daily according to the baking expertise of chef/owner Kim Hammer.
Bittersweet also offers a wide range of gin cocktails and bubbly wines. Bittersweet is the perfect place to stop for an after-dinner pick-me-up or a tasty treat on a cold night.
330 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Boxcar Bar + Arcade is due south of Nash Square on the corner of W Davie St, and S Harrington St. Raleigh has a lot of hip cocktail haunts, but sometimes only a cheap beer will do.
Boxcar Bar + Arcade offers 24 drafts plus a full bar and dozens of arcade games. If arcade games aren’t your thing, Boxcar Bar + Arcade also features an outdoor patio where you can kick back and relax.
Boxcar Bar + Arcade also features DJs or live music events every weekend during summer. Boxcar + Arcade also features a host of daily deals, including $5 draft beer Mondays and $1 mimosa Sundays.
407 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606
C. Grace is a jazz club located in North Boylan. C. Grace features an upscale (but casual) atmosphere perfect for enjoying the jazz offerings of Raleigh’s finest and beyond.
C. Grace has artfully revamped the feel of classic jazz clubs to create a local haunt where neighbors can mingle and relax.
C. Grace features traditional cocktails expertly concocted by a team of friendly bartenders and hot jazz five nights a week. Stop in and step back in time.
616 N Person St #1214, Raleigh, NC 27604
William & Company is a mellow dig for seasonal cocktails on N Person St and Pace St, a block east of William Peace University.
William & Company features a cozy east coast feel with warm-tone woods and brick walls adorned with art.
William & Company is without expectation. Stop by after class at the university for a cocktail or after work for a pint. Either way, William & Company has you covered.
I recommend trying out the bar in the back. They have a completely different vibe with an eclectic drink menu.
323 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Riding the Trolley Pub is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Located wherever bike lanes are, the Trolley Pub is a moving bar powered by the cycling of you and your closest friends.
I recommend tourists visiting Raleigh book a Trolley Pub tour. I can’t imagine a better way to sightsee in the city than sipping a brew and watching your mate struggle to peddle the pub.
Unlike the other drink spots in Raleigh, the Trolley Pub requires robust planning. Before your trip to Raleigh, you’ll want to schedule a date, time, and pickup location to secure your spot on the Trolley Pub.
I loved my time trying the best bars in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I hope my insight helps you find your favorite bar—or at least make some memories.
Unfortunately, I can only drink so many drinks, so I’m sure I missed a few of the best places to stop for a drink in Raleigh. Locals know best, so drop a comment below about your favorite watering hole! Maybe I’ll see you there.
- Watts & Ward
- Dram & Draught
- The Green Light
- The Haymaker
- Boxcar Bar + Arcade
- William & Company
- Trolley Pub Raleigh