Charlotte, North Carolina likes to drink. In 2019, Instacart ranked the Queen City the booziest city in the United States, edging out Chicago and San Francisco for the title.
Whether you want to sample local brews on a chill outdoor patio, belly up to a low-key dive bar, or wind down with wine or an ice-cold cocktail, Charlotte has a bar for that. While it's not a late-night city like Miami or Las Vegas, there are several bars open until last call, which is 2 a.m.
From a sophisticated rooftop lounge in Uptown to a taproom in South End, here are 15 of the city's best bars.
Located in Elizabeth just southeast of Uptown, The Crunkleton is a Prohibition-style speakeasy. While technically it's a private club, the $10 annual membership is worth the price of admission. In addition to an extensive and rare bourbon list, the bar excels at mixing whiskey-based classics like the Sazerac, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan—but it has plenty of non-whiskey options as well. If you get hungry while imbibing, the kitchen offers stellar food, including a popular house burger as well as easily shareable snacks like oysters and wings.
This rooftop bar, located on the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, offers stellar drinks that include wine and champagne by the bottle or glass, local craft brews, and classic cocktails made with North Carolina-based spirits. Expect a wait on the weekends, when locals and tourists alike gather for DJ-spun house music, libations, and panoramic views of the city below.
While the scene can be a bit fratty, this relaxed Myers Park bar is a Charlotte classic. Try the $5 house cocktail, Transfusion (a mix of vodka, ginger ale, and a splash of grape juice), whose price and ingredients have remained unchanged since the bar opened in 1990. Grab a seat on the expansive patio, which is outfitted with several TVs, and enjoy hearty pub fare like pizza and wings. Keep your eyes peeled for local celebrities; the bar is a favorite of former pro basketball player Michael Jordan.
With 36 rotating taps of beer, wine, and bubbly, there's something for everyone at this South End tasting room. The beer selection is heavy on local makers (like Triple C Brewing Company and Suffolk Punch Brewing), as are the cheese and charcuterie plates. Take your drink out to the patio, especially on Friday nights in the summer, when Craft screens free movies. Also check out the weekday specials, like $8.50 flights of select 7-ounce pours on Mondays and $3 local pints on Tuesdays.
For fun cocktails in an intimate setting, head to Soul Gastrolounge in Plaza Midwood. The dimly lit lounge serves small bites like lamb lollipops and flatbreads; an extensive list of sushi, nigiri, and sashimi; and unique, citrus-forward cocktails. In the summer, order the Cucumber Mule on tap, made with Absolut vodka, cucumber juice, fresh ginger, key lime juice, and sugar—it's the perfect anecdote to sultry Charlotte weather.
Want to feel like a Charlotte insider? Try Dot Dot Dot, a hidden members-only club located in an old storage unit behind the Park Road Shopping Center. Look for the sign with three dots above a brown door, which will take you through a dark hall to the bar.
Led by Stefan Huebner, one of Charlotte's original star bartenders, this one-of-a-kind speakeasy serves up innovative cocktails. Try their twists on classics, or opt for a house original, like the Lily Wants a Pony (Tito's vodka, Riesling, rosemary, and fresh lime juice). The bar also has a great collection of rare bourbon and whiskey as well as wines by the bottle and glass. Soak up the booze with a cheese or charcuterie plate, or go for a round of house-made pasta. Be mindful of the lounge's dress code: no shorts or flip flops are allowed.
This no-frills dive bar in a tiny orange building in Plaza Midwood is old-school Charlotte. Thirsty Beaver Saloon somehow persists in its stubborn shabbiness, despite the relentless, homogenized development that surrounds it. Come here to relax with a cheap can of PBR, play a few rounds of pool with your friends, and listen to some oldies on the jukebox.
Located in the basement of Duckworth's Grill & Taphouse in the Fourth Ward, The Cellar is a sophisticated, Prohibition-style bar. The cocktail selection is heavy on the classics (think Mai Tais, Sazeracs, and smoked whiskey sours), while the bar's walk-in beer cellar holds nearly 400 bottles. Pair your drink with elevated gastropub fare like truffle fries, pork steam buns, char-grilled oysters, and steaks.
Housed in a 1940s-style building, Dilworth Tasting Room is an intimate, sophisticated neighborhood wine bar and bottle shop. There are more than 400 Old and New World varietals here, including Croatian finds from owner and sommelier Jaffer Kovic. Try any three white wines for $20 or three reds for $25, which come with a cheese and charcuterie plate on Tuesday nights. Be on the lookout for half-off select rosé pours on Thursday nights. With its European feel and koi pond, the courtyard garden is an oasis from the rest of the city.
As Charlotte's first self-serve bar, Hoppin' offers more than 60 different beers, wines, ciders, and even kombucha on tap. The selection is heavy on local favorites like The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and The Unknown Brewing Company, but offers regional and national options as well. Just swipe your credit card to get a wristband, help yourself to your libation of choice (note: there's a 32-ounce limit), then settle up before you leave—no flagging down a bartender necessary. Wine lovers: Wednesdays offer wine for $1 per ounce.
Come for the chicken—battered, brined, and fried—and stay for the seasonal, apothecary-style cocktails, served from a 1950s-era soda fountain. The cocktail program at this NoDa restaurant is one of the city's most inventive and extensive. Order one of the seasonal punches for the whole table to share. Or, try a house original like the Glass Apple, mixed with gin, Krupnikas, apple brandy, mezcal, apple cider syrup, and lemon juice clarified through milk.
With locations in Dilworth, SouthPark, and Waverly, this popular Charlotte wine bar sells flights as well as wine by the bottle and glass. There's no corkage fee for wines $30 and up, so it's a great spot for splitting a bottle or two with a group of friends. The kitchen offers plenty of snacks for sharing, including truffle fries, house-made ricotta, and fried donut holes, served piping hot with salted caramel and chocolate sauce for dipping.
Located in the First Ward of Uptown, this seafood-centric lounge is the perfect spot for posting up to enjoy Low Country cuisine, craft cocktails, and live music. Hungry after hours? The kitchen is open late, offering a booze-friendly menu of wings, seafood platters, and other shareable snacks to accompany your imbibing.
This old-school Montford watering hole has some of the city's best wings. Your order? Uncle Donnie's famous blackened wings, served with your choice of 10 different sauces (try the blood orange ghost pepper for an extra kick). The menu also includes classic dive-bar fare (potato skins, nachos, and fried cheese), stiff drinks, and several beers bottled on and on draft—all served until 2 a.m., seven nights a week. Don't miss the rooftop patio.
Just north of Uptown, this German-style beer hall has more than 30 local and regional beers on tap, plus an extensive selection of wine and liquor. It's also home to one of the city's largest outdoor patios, outfitted with a five-court sand volleyball facility and games like giant Connect Four and Jenga. Don't sleep on the excellent bar snacks, including the house totchos, nitrate-free brats, and jumbo gourmet pretzels. Just head to the “EAT” sign at the front of the bar to place your order.