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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

April 15, 2021

The city’s most underrated cocktails

This is what you should be ordering, according to bartenders

The Richardson at Dot Dot Dot with the crème brûlée, which is cocktail-themed and changes each week. Kristen Wile/UP

Most of us tend to order something familiar when we look at a cocktail list — but by doing so, we’re missing out on some of the best cocktails around town. We asked 10 Charlotte bartenders what their most underrated and under-ordered cocktail is. From old-fashioneds to personalized concoctions, these are the cocktails that deserve more love.

Dot Dot Dot, Montford Park
The bar: An upscale speakeasy with a classic feel serving craft liquors and cocktails plus curated bites.
Most underrated drink: The Richardson
What’s in it: Makers Mark 46, Amaro Montenegro, Pedro Jimenez Sherry, Drambuie, and Peychauds bitters.

Sophia’s Lounge, Uptown
The bar: An elevated bar in The Ivey’s Hotel with a vintage feel serving cocktails and small plates.
Most underrated drink: Pineapple Express
What’s in it: Plantation Pineapple rum, Gosling’s Black Seal rum, coconut syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, and fresh mint, topped with Fever Tree ginger beer.

Idlewild, NoDa
The bar: A “no menu,” cozy cocktail bar in the neighborhood of NoDa.
Most underrated drink: The Elder Fashioned
What’s in it: An old-fashioned consisting of gin, elderflower, and orange bitters with a zest of grapefruit.

The Crunkleton, Elizabeth
The bar: A stylish, light-filled bar offering classic cocktails with a modern twist.
Most underrated drink: Bartender’s Choice
What’s in it: This order allows the bartenders to get to know you, and offer you something custom. “All of our staff members are creative and bring a certain culture to the bar,” says bartender Hunter Thurston.

Soul Gastrolounge, Plaza Midwood
The bar: A hip and cozy lounge specializing in global small plates, sushi, and cocktails.
Most underrated drink: Any low-ABV drinks
What’s in it: Amaros, liqueurs, and other low-proofers that won’t leave you feeling tipsy.

Fin & Fino, Uptown
The bar: A spacious seafood eatery specializing in small plates and 12 different types of oysters.
Most underrated drink: Most Likely to be a Cougar
What’s in it: Pineapple gin, Thai basil, Lillet, vanilla, and citrus bitters.

The Cotton Room, Uptown
The bar: A Southern-inspired bar with a speakeasy vibe pouring classic and specialty cocktails plus beer and wine.
Most underrated drink: Gin Drink #3
What’s in it: Butterfly pea flower extract, smoked chili bitters, smoked gin, and Licor 43

Bardo, South End
The bar: An eclectic, chic spot for chef-driven American small plates with beer, wine and signature cocktails.
Most underrated drink: Another Word for Tantrum
What’s in it: Conniption Navy Strength Gin, Zucca Rhubarbaro Amaro, strawberry, lemon, and egg white.

The Cellar at Duckworth’s, Uptown
The bar: A classic speakeasy with vintage vibes offering a variety of creative cocktails.
Most underrated drink: East Village
What’s in it: A take on a Manhattan with bourbon, orange oils, burlesque bitters, cherry garnish, and Old Forester.

Dogwood Southern Table & Bar, SouthPark
The bar: A restaurant specializing in local Southern eats with a stylish, rustic bar.
Most underrated drink: Endless Unfoldment
What’s in it: A blend of local apple brandy, rum, coconut cream, chamomile tea, citrus, and agave.

BackStage Lounge, South End
The bar: A modern neighborhood speakeasy with an intimate, romantically elevated vibe.
Most underrated drink: Sunglasses At Night
What’s in it: Tanqueray Ten gin, passion fruit, falernum, orgeat, and spices.

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