Level 7 Rooftop Bar
by Jessie Ammons
photographs by Keith Isaacs
Exit the elevator at the top floor of North Hills’ new AC Hotel Raleigh and you’ll enter a sleek lounge that feels a world away. Level 7 is a rooftop bar designed to cater not just to hotel guests, but to Raleigh. “We have more regulars than anything else, which is what we want,” says general manager Anthony Zinani.
Since its early April opening, those regulars include midtown workers in search of a convenient happy hour spot and nearby residents glad to have a hip watering hole close to home. Zinani says the city’s growth provides new opportunities in all directions. He gestures to the breezy rooftop patio and sweeping cityscape views. The setting sells itself.
Bar manager Peter Horak complements the scene with drinks inspired by the season and the region. Glass cabinets suspended from the ceiling are heavy on spirits made in the Triangle and in North Carolina: TOPO vodka, Defiant whisky, Raleigh Rum Company, Durham Distillery gin.
To welcome summer, Horak mixed up a sangria. Although he skipped the local ingredients, he combined gin with freshly muddled berries, elderflower liqueur, and a white tempranillo wine, inspired by Level 7’s other occasional muse: Spain. There’s a small tapas menu and mostly Spanish wine list, which adds up to a vibe that encourages lingering, relaxing, enjoying. “We want people to sit down and have a full experience,” Horak says.
“This is a white sangria that appears red,” bar manager Peter Horak says. The white wine base gets a rosy hue from freshly muddled berries.
1 bottle (750ml) tempranillo
8 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
4 ounces elderflower liqueur (such as St. Germain)
4 ounces peach schnapps
Up to 4 ounces simple syrup, depending on preference
1-3 cups seasonal berries (Horak recommends blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
Muddle the berries. Use a fine strainer to strain berry juice into a pitcher or punch bowl. Add wine, gin, elderflower liquer, and peach schnapps. Stir well, and add simple syrup to taste (if you want). Add a few fresh berries and let sit in refrigerator for 2 hours. Serve over ice.
Serves 6 – 8