From cocktail kits to Triangle-sourced cheese, peruse these spots to host your next alfresco happy hour at home.
by Emily Clemente and Cady Smith
It’s summer! Now more than ever is the time to enjoy the longer days and snacking al fresco. Whether you’re comfortable hosting a socially distant backyard cocktail hour with friends or are keeping your porch party to just the two of you, we’ve rounded up all the best spots to put together an early-evening aperitif, Raleigh style. Recreate your favorite local bar vibes from the comfort of your own home with these picks.
Where to find cocktail kits and mixers
Amp up your happy hour with a signature cocktail. Many local bars are offering cocktail kits that you can order online and mix at home. STIR Raleigh, a cold bar and kitchen, has kits for their Flower Power cocktail, the Viva La Astral, and Strawberry Moon Sangria. They come with a DIY craft cocktail guide, mixers and STIR’s signature ice, and a garnish. Crosstown Cocktail Catering, a collaboration between Raleigh bars The Haymaker and Killjoy, offers a wide variety of cocktail kits for pickup or delivery like Haymaker’s Passion Fruit Margarita, Maui Mule, and Killjoy’s Raleighwood Smash. Downtown Lebansese restaurant Sitti, in addition to their takeout menu, is offering fresh fruit-forward drink mixers, Cortez will send you home with fixings for a strawberry Pina Colada, and Gringo offers margarita mix by the pint or half-gallon. Locals Seafood in Transfer Co Food Hall has bloody mary kits and a Poblano Mule Kit. (Pick up a dozen of their raw oysters while you’re there for a taste of the coast.)
Where to buy wine and beer
If mixed drinks aren’t your thing, consider some vino or a lower-alcohol beverage. Give Wine Authorities a call, tell them your price range and tastes, and they’ll put together a box for you from their selection of unique, good quality European wines at an affordable price. Similarly, Chatham Street Wine Market, Taylor’s Wine Shop, and Short Walk Wines (hello Chill and Grill pack) are all also open for curbside, in-store, or online shopping options. Or consider an apértif for a cause: Ashley Christensen has teamed up with beverage maker house Haus to create a lower alcohol drink with notes of grapefruit, sweet honey, thyme, and Tellicherry pepper. Order it for pickup at Poole’s Diner and proceeds will benefit the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.
Head to your closest bottle shop to pick out a craft brew—a quick poll on Instagram voted Hoppy Endings a crowd favorite for its selection of both local and international craft beers (along with the largest whiskey selection in the southeast). Pelagic is full of local beer options in addition to wine, cheese, crackers and will even package it all up for you in their Social Distancing Party Kit. State of Beer, downtown bottle shop also offers a selection of gourmet sandwiches.
Where to buy cheese and crackers
Here are some places nearby where you can get the perfect crunchy accompaniment to your happy hour libations. If you want something traditional, try Raleigh Provisions or Angus Barn Country Store for selections of specialty and gourmet crackers. If you’re feeling like something with a little more zing, Carolina Kettle offers chips kettle-cooked to crispy perfection with a wide array of unique flavors such as Bee Sting Honey Sriracha and Southern Twang Salt and Vinegar.
The market at Pro’s Epicurean is a great source for authentic Italian and French cheeses and charcuterie plates like provolone, fontina, goudas, and bries. Whole Foods offers a wide selection of artisan cheese from Triangle establishments like Boxcarr Handmade Cheese’s cottonseed, robiola, winsome, and campo as well as fresh cheese from Celebrity Dairy, a dairy farm in rural Chatham County which constantly creates new and innovative flavors. Some of their current flavors include dill lemon, rosemary, and curry.
Head over to one of Weaver St. Market’s four locations to pick up one of Hillsborough Cheese Company’s popular cheeses like chevre, sweet ash, and a variety of aged cheese. The Durham Farmers’ Market also features hand-crafted farmhouse cheeses from Chapel Hill Creamery. You can find cheeses like calvander, fresh mozzarella, and pheta every Saturday and Wednesday. The Market Shoppes at the N.C. State Farmers Market offer local artisan cheese options at the MAE Farms booth as well.
Where to shop for entertaining accessories
As a final touch, spruce up your serveware so your happy hour looks as good as it tastes. Along with a wide selection of wines, the Raleigh Wine Shop also has wine openers, tumblers, and tote bags at their wine pop up shop. Head to the Waverly Place Shopping Center to browse Whisk’s selection of essential bar supplies from cocktail shakers to ice cube trays and glassware. Napkins are always a must–so why not go all out with some embroidered, reusable designs from Vibrantly Blue? You can choose from elegant floral patterns, to animals, to North Carolina-shaped embroidery to show some local love.
What to make for happy hour
Still looking for inspiration? Here are a few cocktail recipes to make from scratch.