Where to Drink in 2020

By popular demand, we brought back our top story from last January and expanded it to ask local bartenders where we should drink this year. Their choices—a mix of local dive bars, upscale cocktail bars and straight-up great local watering holes—are listed below. Read on to figure out where to drink in 2020, chosen by the people who are truly in the know. 
by Catherine Currin

Person Street Bar / Taylor McDonald

Halsey Merritt

Wine Buyer & GM, Short Walk Wines

Non-Alcoholic Drink: Short double latte from Cup A Joe

Romantic Drink: Royale has really lovely lighting and the general atmosphere is really good. I also like Apéro.

Casual Beverage: Person Street Bar is my go-to. It’s close and open late, which suits my schedule.

Go-to for a Beer: Anywhere that serves a Tecate! 

Bittersweet / Nick Pironio

Melissa Katrincic

Co-owner, Durham Distillery

Favorite Bartender: Zack Thomas of Crawford & Son. Martinez cocktail

Non-Alcoholic Drink: Raleigh Raw Morning Glory

Romantic Drink: The Umstead bar lounge or outside on their terrace with the fireplaces.

Casual Beverage: Bittersweet—anytime of day

Go-to For a Beer: The Northern Spy

Sit Outside: Whiskey Kitchen

The Pharmacy Cafe / Juli Leonard

Doug Wheeler

Beverage Director, The Atlantic Lounge

Favorite Bar: Dram & Draught, order scotch

Non-Alcoholic Drink: The Pharmacy Cafe on Person Street

Romantic Drink: C. Grace

Casual Beverage: Circa

Go-To for a Beer: Pelagic Beer & Wine

Sit Outside: William & Company

Make at Home: Olive-infused vodka martinis

Gallo Pélon Mezcaleria / Madeline Grey

Ian Murray

Head Barman, Dram & Draught

Favorite Bartender: Alexander and Jordan at Gallo—I drink whatever the bartender is making…

Non-Alcoholic Drink: Heirloom— black iced red eye

Romantic Drink: My crib

Casual Beverage: Havana

Go-To for a Beer: Modelo Especial—anywhere that I’m not working and my homies are working! I like to spread the love. 

Johnson Street Yacht Club / Taylor McDonald

Rob Nation

Bartender, Transfer Co. Food Hall

Favorite Bartender: Dylon Myrick, and I’m simple. Usually just a beer and a side of Reposado Tequila.

Non-Alcoholic Drink:  I usually make my own coffee at home, and I’m a big fan of Pine State Coffee for those beans.

Casual Beverage: I really like Person Street Bar. I feel certain that Johnson Street Yacht Club is going to be a standard for me. 

Go-To for a Beer: Person Street Bar

Death & Taxes / Juli Leonard

Craig Rudewicz and Lindsay Lassere

Co-owners, Crude Bitters

Favorite Bar: We love the bars at Fiction Kitchen and Apéro. 

Non-Alcoholic Drink: Kaleb at Benchwarmers makes a great cortado. 

Romantic Drink: The cozy bar at Death & Taxes is great for cocktails and some small bites before your meal, or as a start

to the evening. 

Go-To for a Beer: We’ve been spoiled with the opening of Burial Beer and Transfer Co. Food Hall across the street.

Union Special Bread / Eamon Queeney

Garrett Waddell

Manager, Foundation 

Favorite Bar: Slim’s—Tecate, shot of Espolòn or a Mind Eraser.

Non-Alcoholic Drink: A draft cold brew and all of the baked goods from Union Special Bread.

Romantic Drink: Night Rider

Casual Beverage: Ruby Deluxe

Go-To for a Beer: Slim’s

Sit Sutside: Slim’s

Make at Home: Mezcal in a glass