Flask & Beaker

Down to a Science

Moonshine, Cheerwine, and Howling Cow ice cream

by Catherine Currin
photographs by Keith Isaacs

Calling all formula geeks and Wolfpack fans: There’s a new bar for you on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus. Flask & Beaker, inside the newly opened StateView hotel, serves student-brewed beer and unique cocktails using made-in-state spirits.

Throughout the space, there are subtle nods to the exceptional work done on the hotel’s home base. Words from NCSU patents are woven into the wallpaper’s pattern. Light fixtures resemble glassware from the nearby research labs. “Our goal is to be as local-focused and in-tune with N.C. State as we can,” says dining room manager Ashley Rioux.

The food menu is meant to spark school-day nostalgia, regardless of if you’re an alum. Appetizer, known as “electives” and “minors”, include crispy Texas Pete zucchini chips and N.C.-cheese-and-beer soup. Speaking of beer: This is one of the few spots around town to grab an N.C. State draft, brewed from students studying fermentation science. A meat-and-two daily special is known as “a major with two minors” and has options like fried chicken, meatloaf, mac-and-cheese, or green bean casserole. Don’t forget to finish off your meal with some Howling Cow ice cream, also made on campus.

The cocktail menu, aptly named “experimental chemistry”, includes everything from moonshine to paw paws, a native state fruit. Living up to its name, head bartender Sean Otwell is experimenting on classic beverages. The Neuse River Mule, for instance, is his Triangle take on the Moscow. He mixes Kinston-made Social House vodka with ginger, lime, and Cheerwine, which is native to Salisbury, North Carolina. Take a sip and you might feel like you’re drinking a spiked Cheerwine from the drive-through at Cookout. Otwell says he’s passionate about the local spirits and ingredients that are in and around the Triangle, and he lets them speak for themselves. “I’m creating a relatively simple variation on classic cocktails with local ingredients.”

The Neuse River Mule


1 ½ ounces Social House vodka

½ ounce ginger syrup

¾ ounce lime juice

Cheerwine, to taste

Add vodka, syrup, and lime juice to a highball glass or Moscow mule mug with crushed ice. Top with Cheerwine to your liking.