The Best Cocktail Bars for a Night Out in Charlotte, NC


Charlotte’s food and drink scene has exploded in recent years with new restaurants and bars popping up across the city. For those seeking a lively night out with crafted cocktails, Charlotte’s premier cocktail lounges deliver strong drinks and vibrant atmospheres. Here are 5 of the best cocktail bars to check out in Charlotte for a fun night on the town.

Cloud Southend – An Upscale Lounge Experience

Since opening in 2021, Cloud Southend has been bringing a upscale lounge vibe to Charlotte’s bustling South End neighborhood. With DJs spinning and hookah service enhancing the scene, Cloud offers a lively nightlife destination for those seeking a more polished atmosphere.

Step inside Cloud Southend and enter a chic, moody interior accented by pops of gold. Plush booths line the walls while sleek bars anchor the space. As the sun sets, locals fill the lounge sipping cocktails like the cucumber gimlet and lychee martini. Dance music pumped by DJs creates an energetic vibe perfect for letting loose on the weekends. Patrons tend to dress to impress, giving the scene a sophisticated edge. For those seeking to party in style, Cloud delivers the perfect polished playground.

Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ – Hot Dogs Plus Axe Throwing

Opened in 2022, Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ brings an elevated take on classic dog joints to Charlotte’s Cotswold neighborhood. In addition to loaded hot dogs and saucy BBQ, their menu offers axe throwing, games, and local brews on tap.

Step inside Crave and instantly feel the welcoming, laidback vibe. Long tables encourage big groups while games like giant Jenga keep kids entertained. Pop music plays as customers sip local brews and bite into juicy dogs topped with homemade chili and fried onions. The causal, lively setting pairs perfectly with Crave’s menu of amped-up hot dogs, barbecue plates, and loaded tater tots. With food, drinks, and fun under one roof, Crave sets the stage for a chill night out.

Soul Gastrolounge – Globally Inspired Small Plates

Since 2009, Soul Gastrolounge has been serving eclectic tapas along with craft cocktails in Uptown Charlotte. Their globally influenced small plates range from sushi to Spanish meatballs to lamb lollipops. DJs and a lively patio bar enhance the vibrant dining experience.

Soul’s chic, industrial space fuses modern gastropub and lounge with exposed ductwork and pops of color. Communal tables encourage sharing and trying new dishes. The extensive cocktail menu matches the diverse cuisine, with options like the ginger pear martini and basil lemon drop martini to pair with each plate. Soul’s varied decor mirrors its globally influenced cuisine for a one-of-a-kind dining and drinking experience.

Lawrence Caribbean Restaurant – Jamaican Cuisine and Tropical Drinks

Since 2015, Lawrence Caribbean Restaurant has been dishing up authentic Jamaican cuisine in Charlotte. Tucked away in a modest storefront, this unassuming eatery transports diners to the Caribbean with dishes like oxtail, curry goat, and jerk chicken. The rum bar offers tropical cocktails to complement the island flavors.

Despite the humble environs, Lawrence offers an immersive cultural experience through its traditional island cuisine. Reggae music plays while the aroma of spices fills the air. The rum bar menu features Jamaican classics like rum punch along with the restaurant’s own creations, like the Lawrence Light made with coconut rum, pineapple, ginger ale and grenadine. Just one bite of the intensely flavored dishes alongside a tropical cocktail has diners feeling transported to the shores of Jamaica.

Paco’s Tacos and Tequila -Tacos Plus Margaritas

Since opening its doors in 2008, Paco’s Tacos and Tequila has been serving up authentic Tex-Mex cuisine and drinks in Charlotte. This lively spot wows diners with scratch-made tacos, fajitas, enchiladas and more. A expansive tequila and margarita menu round out the festive Mexican dining experience.

Stepping into Paco’s, guests are met with a vibrant, celebratory ambiance. String lights and Mexican folk art set a playful tone. At the lively bar, a rainbow of margaritas and shots flow freely. The fun atmosphere sets the mood for an indulgent Mexican dining experience. On weekends, the scene gets even livelier late into the evening. With indulge-worthy food and drinks, Paco’s offers a south of the border fiesta.

Charlotte’s Premier Nightlife Destinations

This quintet of cocktail bars offers something for every taste and mood. From chic lounges like Cloud to cultural experiences at Lawrence, these nightlife hotspots deliver top-notch drinks, small plates, and ambiance. For a memorable night out in Charlotte, visiting one of these eclectic cocktail bars promises good eats, good drinks, and great times.

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