Sip a Signature Cocktail at One of These Raleigh Bars

You know you want to have a drink at one of these impressive bars in Raleigh, NC.

From rooftop bars and beer gardens to hidden and underground bars, the bar scene in Raleigh provides more options than you know what to do with. But rest assured, you don’t have to try every bar in Raleigh (unless you really want to), because we’ve composed a list of some must-see Raleigh bars to help narrow down your options.

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1. Raleigh Times Bar

A timeless bar that puts Raleigh’s past, present, and future on display.

14 E Hargett St | Downtown Raleigh |

Situated in a restored 100 year old building, this timeless bar puts Raleigh’s past, present, and future all on display. Old press clippings and images from their namesake newspaper adorn the walls (and are sometimes even served with the food), capturing the rich cultural and political history that is unique to the Capital City. 

Their menu features handcrafted, creative takes on classic bar fare favorites, as well as our inventive drinks and an extensive Belgian beer selection.

At The Raleigh Times, the staff is composed entirely of Cicerone Certified Beer Servers. Aka, they know their beer. According to, “The Cicerone Certification Program certifies and educates beer professionals in order to elevate the beer experience for consumers.” So, the staff undergoes extensive training to receive this certification. 

Some of their signature cocktails include the SunDown Sangria (Cabernet Sauvignon, spiced rum, triple sec, freshly squeezed lime and orange juice, and topped with soda) and the Tennenbaum (vodka, citrus, simple syrup, and fresh basil, topped with sparkling wine).

Try their Times Peruvian Grilled Wings, char-grilled wings and drumettes seasoned with a blend of South American spices, served with Peruvian verde dipping sauce, or stick to what you know and get a sandwich with a side of house-made chips and a pickle.

Look out for their Taco Tuesday deal! For only $20, you can choose any combination of three tacos (beef barbacoa, chicken tinga, or grilled shrimp) and feast on your tacos served with black beans, tex mex rice, salsa verde, pickled onions, and, the best part, a house margarita.

Ask for a seat on the rooftop patio so you can enjoy one of the best views of Downtown Raleigh.

“Good drink and good food to celebrate an early birthday for the sister. If I'm ever back in the area, I would definitely make another stop.” - Yelp Review

2. The Green Light

108 1/2 E Hargett St | Downtown Raleigh |

Tucked away behind a secret bookshelf inside The Architect Bar & Social House is where you’ll find The Green Light, a hidden speakeasy-like bar. It’s a small, dimly lit room clad with reclaimed wood and vinyl records playing in the corner. Here, you can disappear into the 1920s atmosphere and sip a serious cocktail.

The Green Light is a well kept secret aimed to intrigue every taste, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Thrillist actually recently named The Green Light one of the "21 Best Secret Bars in the World."

“Hidden behind the bookshelf, this tiny hidden gem is found. The walls are covered with velvet wallpaper, which is so chic! In true speakeasy fashion, the hand crafted cocktails are on point. I opted for the 5th Avenue, vodka, blueberry, cinnamon, divine. I had 2... and could've had about 10 more.” - Yelp Review

3. Champions Bars 

The best dive bar in Raleigh since 1998.

2109 Avent Ferry Rd | West Raleigh |

Since opening their doors in 1998, Champions Bars has become one of Raleigh’s oldest billiard clubs and sports bars.

There’s live music, solid drinks (like the Frozen White Russian or Mojito), and an overall good vibe. And, if you’re up for it, sing your heart out during karaoke.

They even offer fun events like Trivia and Yoga & Beer. Yoga & Beer is a one hour yoga class on the patio at Champions Bars in Mission Valley. The class is only $15. Enjoy a free draft beer if you stay after. 

“They have cold beer, cheap well drinks and quick service. I didn't feel unwelcome and the crowd for Karaoke night with Dave's Original Super Karaoke was diverse and fun and everyone seemed to be really into it and supportive.” - Yelp Review

You can purchase a GiftYa for Champions Bars here!

Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria

Raleigh's first Mezcaleria. 

106 1/2 S Wilmington St | Downtown Raleigh |

Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria is Raleigh's first Mezcaleria. 

As a Mezcaleria, this bar makes handcrafted cocktails with a focus on mezcal, a pit-smoked agave spirit from Mexico. 

You can find Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria above its sister restaurant Centro in Downtown Raleigh. The small outdoor space, with a few seats and tables, mural-painted walls, and hanging lights, makes for a mesmerizing dining atmosphere (and the perfect backdrop for a photo for the ‘Gram).

Some of their bar favorites are the Roaster and the Pearl (Vida Mezcal, cyanar, amontillado, and smoke and salt bitters) and the Oaxacan Mule (cucumber, lime, mezcal, and spicy ginger ale).

They also serve mezcal flights, like the Basico (Vago Elote, Del Maguey Minero, and Banhez) and the De Altura (Banhez, El Jolgorio Madrecuishe, and Del Maguey Ameyaltepec).

Pair your mezcal cocktail with steak, chicken, cochinita, or veggie tacos, Ignacios (white corn chips with beans, queso, pico de gallo, spicy mayo, and jalapenos), or just your classic chips and guac.

“Gallo Pelon is my favorite bar in Raleigh!  They have an amazing selection of mezcal that you won't find anywhere in NC and the food is great!  Knowledgeable and super friendly bartenders.” - Yelp Review


Raleigh’s highly-anticipated rooftop bar.

101 Park at North Hills St | Midtown Raleigh |

Located at the AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills, Level7 is the rooftop bar everyone’s been talking about.

It’s European and Spanish influenced food menu leaves way for some desirable tapas style bites, and samplings from small batch distillers, rock star brewers, and single vineyard labels are not bad complements.

The tapas serve about two people. For the tapas, choose from Meat & Cheese, Nona’s Meatballs, Camarones Tacos, and more. We recommend the Papas, crispy potatoes with truffle salt and smoked paprika aioli.

For cocktails, get the Midtown Margarita with Altos Reposado Tequila, St. Germain, and lemon juice and the Life Gives You Lemons with Dixie Vodka, lemon, puree, and Pechaud’s. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try The Pecan Mule made with Jefferson’s, pecan syrup, and ginger beer.

Enjoy live music on Friday and Sunday evenings. The music livens the mood of every gathering, from date nights to happy hour get-togethers.

“Have been coming here for a year now. A glass of frose with some yummy snacks on the patio will make you feel like you're on top of the world, literally. The staff is always so friendly and helpful and we thoroughly enjoy coming.” - Yelp Review

Watts & Ward

A new Raleigh craft cocktail bar founded upon the underground spirit of 1920s America.

200 S Blount St Raleigh | Downtown Raleigh |

Watts & Ward was founded upon the underground spirit of 1920s America. When legislation such as the Watts Act of 1903 and the Ward Law of 1905 were passed, outlawing rural distilleries and drying up all but the state's 80 towns with populations of 1,000 or more, respectively, some clever citizens united underground. 

These establishments were alive with music and spirit. Nearly one hundred years later, Watts & Ward finds itself at the forefront of the battle to keep that culture alive as purveyors “of an idea. Of an era. Of a lifestyle.”

Watts & Ward has been lauded by Raleigh Agenda, The News & Observer, Wral, Visit Raleigh, and Triangle Business Journal.

Watts & Ward is located beneath Caffé Luna and directly across from Moore Square. It appears as if a seemingly endless cavern, with room after room of leather seating, vintage artwork, rustic tables, dim lighting, and bookshelves.

House cocktails include Maker’s Mark Private Select Barrel (Watts & Ward) Old Fashioned, Carolina Lily (vodka, strawberry & rose riff on the classic French 75), Moonrider (blanco tequila, aperol, elderflower, lime, and torched rosemary), and Mando (Hendrick’s Gin, green chartreuse, lime, and fevertree cucumber tonic). 

There is also a select beer and wine list. 

“Watts & Ward is one of my favorite places to get drinks in downtown Raleigh. They have a huge selection of cocktails that are perfectly crafted by their staff. Watts & Ward is one of those places where you can get amazing cocktails complemented by a great ambiance.” - Yelp Review

Fox Liquor Bar

A subterranean drinking den located in Downtown Raleigh.

237 S Wilmington St | Downtown Raleigh |

The brainchild of James Beard Award-winner chef Ashley Christensen, this subterranean drinking den is located just around the corner from two of Christensen's eating spots, Chuck's and Beasley's Chicken and Honey.

This underground bar serves classic and contemporary cocktails (might we add, strong!) with a laid back vibe and lots of comfortable, dark leather seating. 

They have uniquely-named cocktails like the Uh-huh Hunny (bourbon, St. Germain, honey, lemon, and rose water) and the For the Bitter Mermaids (Japanese whiskey, Amaro delle Sirene, and grapefruit bitters), as well as wine and beer lists.

And we can’t forget to mention the food, well, “snax” as they refer to it on the menu. Nibble on 

Sweet N’ Salty Nuts, Foxy Onion Dip with caramelized shallots, red wine, and porcini mushrooms, or Garlic Fries with cheddar mayo, or dulge on a Warm Cookie & Ice Cream.

“Our bartender recommended gin in the Ivy Gimlet and it was perfect. The Carolina reaper fries are everything. Very spicy with a cool ranch dip to go along. The space is dark and intimate, with a super casual vibe. Love this place and can see it being a place for night caps in my future. Totally recommend!” - Yelp Review

Raleigh Beer Garden

You’ll find the world’s largest beer selection at this Raleigh beer garden.

614 Glenwood Ave | Downtown Raleigh |

With more than 350 beers on tap, the Raleigh Beer Garden has the world's largest beer selection. And no, we’re not lying. It was made official when representatives from Guinness World Records visited in 2015.

This beer garden has plenty of outdoor space, as one would hope for with a beer garden. But it also has rooftop seating, so it’s as if it’s a beer garden and rooftop bar rolled into one.

They have a crazy long list of beers and ciders on tap, as well as wine and cocktails.

They also have a full food menu with appetizers, burgers, pizza, and salads; a brunch menu; and a “Hungry Dawgs Food Menu” just for the pups! So while you sip your beer, your dog can enjoy a Pup Cup (a little cup of whipped cream) for only $1.50!

“One of our favorite places to visit! It's in the heart of everything and with so many beverage choices, everyone will find their favorites. The food is wonderful too as well as the service.” - Yelp Review
You really can’t go wrong with any of these Downtown Raleigh bars. However, if you’re only in the city for a short period of time, you probably want to find the bar. Whether that’s a dive bar that’s been around since 1998, a modern rooftop bar, or a speakeasy with strong, and we mean strong, cocktails, there’s something out there for you. Hopefully this list will help you narrow it down. And hey, if you’re in Raleigh to stay, you may as well check all of these bars off your list!

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is the shopping expert here at GiftYa. Trae helps people find the best deals and ideas on popular new items to purchase.

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