Durham's got spirit — make that spirits. From distilleries to cider and mead, take a tour or order a flight to discover the locally-made products that make Durham's cocktail scene an unparalleled experience.
Not to be overshadowed by a flourishing brewery scene, our craft distilleries, cideries, and meaderies are making a name for themselves in the beverage world. For the chic patron wanting to sip a classic gin and tonic, or the gluten-free traveler ready for a glass of seasonal mead or hard cider, here's where to find your next great craft beverage in the Bull City.
Durham Drinks: A Craft Beverage Guide to Durham
In celebration of Durham's craft beverage scene, we've created a handy pocket guide to some of the tastiest beverages, most creative cocktail bars, expertly-curated wine lists and more around the Bull City. Request the craft beverage guide by mail or stop into the Visitor Info Center at 212 W. Main St. to pick up your very own copy where you'll find trivia, exclusive offers and recommendations from the teams at your favorite spots, and more.
Durham Distillery is leading a gin renaissance in the South, and has been voted one of the best gins in the world. Led by scientist team Melissa and Lee Katrincic, the pair combines traditional gin-making methods with modern-day chemistry to create spirits and liqueurs that are both classic and fresh. The beautifully bottled Conniption Gin is distilled in a custom-designed German copper pot still for the ultimate crisp taste and clean flavor profile. The coffee, mocha, and chocolate flavors of Damn Fine Liqueurs utilize ingredients from local Triangle artisans Slingshot Coffee Company and Videri Chocolate Factory. Try their spirits at Corpse Reviver, the adjoining cocktail bar owned by the Katrincics, at plenty of restaurants and bars in Durham, or visit their distillery for a tour.
In 2023, Durham Distillery acquired the Durham-based Krupnikas, a traditional Lithuanian spiced honey liqueur originally made by Brothers Vilgalys. Sweetened with North Carolina wildflower honey and invigorated with spices, it's smooth enough to drink on its own and strong enough hold its own when mixed in a cocktail.
Mystic Farm and Distillery started out making small-batch, handmade Mystic Bourbon Liqueur by blending mature bourbon with wildflower honey and nine spices. Nearly a decade later, it's the first bourbon distillery in the Triangle since prohibition known for its award-winning, limited-release Broken Oak Bourbon. Mystic is a farm-to-flask distillery and is the world’s largest solar-powered bourbon distillery. Located on a 22-acre site, visitors can visit the farm and fields, tour the distillery, learn about the distilling process and taste their products.
Liberty & Plenty is one of the newest distilleries in downtown Durham, joining the space adjacent to The Rickhouse in 2022. Like Durham Distillery, it includes an adjoining cocktail bar where patrons will soon be able to taste their Bronze Bull Spirits Bourbon and Slate Belt Vodka. Owner Tina Williford earned her expertise at Scotland's renowned Heriot-Watt University and joins the estimated one percent of female-owned distilleries in the US. The distillery has plans to produce rum, whiskey, gin, and flavored vodkas.
Weldon Mills Distillery is another new addition to Durham's craft beverage scene. Its bourbon, whiskey, vodka and gin production started in Weldon, NC, where its first location still operates. Its second location in downtown Durham is a speakeasy-like space with a back-door entrance off E. Main Street. Spirits are produced by day, and the public area is a stylish cocktail bar with snacks and live music by night.
Drink Like a Local: Where Bourbon Expert Che Ramos Orders a Cocktail
Bull City Ciderworks crafts gluten-free hard ciders made with 100 percent apple juice and no high fructose corn syrup. Falling somewhere on the spectrum between wine and beer, the ciders incorporate flavors from honey, black tea, hops, ginger, tart cherries, bacon, candy corn and hibiscus to create unique ciders different from any other on the market. Try a cider from their core menu, like Sweet Carolina infused with local honey for a taste of the South.
Honeygirl Meadery is a small urban meadery that celebrates nature and the work of honeybees by making small-batch meads (honey wines) with seasonal fruits, flowers, herbs and honey. Made in Durham NC, Honeygirl meads are hand-crafted libations made in small batches with all-natural ingredients.
Moon Dog Meadery is a co-op brewery that produces dry and semi-sweet mead, building on traditional techniques to produce seasonal flavors like mixed berry and orange vanilla. The bar and bottle shop carries a wide selection of NC-made craft beverages and hosts board game nights and comedy shows.
Beyond the distilleries, Durham’s craft cocktail scene booms with each new bar that opens. You can try a uniquely Durham gin and tonic at Alley Twenty Six with their delicious handmade tonic. Or, have your tarot cards read over a creative cocktail or mocktail at Arcana Bar & Lounge. Many other Durham establishments are ready for you to experience the talent and creativity of their bartenders and mixologists nightly.
Read our nightlife blog for more recommendations on Durham's best cocktail bars, dance parties, dives and more.
See something wrong with this listing? Contact email@example.com.