After Dark

Best of Charlotte 2016


Jeff's Bucket Shop

Ready to take your shower routine to the main stage? We think the best karaoke spot in the Queen City is none other than Jeff's Bucket Shop. Tucked at the bottom of a stairwell next door to The Roasting Company on Montford Drive, Jeff's is the diviest dive bar in the area. The small venue features cheap drinks in plastic cups, a rooftop patio and an all-you-can-sing karaoke stage. Be sure to put your name on the list early and before the crowd packs in. Before you know it, the random person you thought was just a local drunk will be performing everything from Biggie to Metallica. (1601 Montford Drive. 704-525-0425.

Best Place for Craft Cocktails

The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton

Is your palate for craft cocktails ready to stretch its muscles? The Punch Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Uptown is going to be a dream come true. Master mixologist and craft cocktail connoisseur, Bob Peters, is known to make a mean drink. And when I say mean, you can trust that these cocktails aren't for the faint of heart. The prices pack a punch, but the buzz does too. You can successfully pregame with a single punch bowl, whether you're sharing or not. Did I mention there are also artisan-crafted small plates? Sounds like the perfect date night if you ask me! (201 E. Trade St. 704-547-2244.

Best Place to Relive the College Life


Are you a recent grad experiencing serious FOMO (fear of missing out) over your college glory days? There's good news! Prohibition is the perfect destination for a nasty, sweaty slow grind. Every single time I've gone there the floor was wet, everyone was wasted and PDA was in every corner. Not sure if the floor was wet because of sweat, spilled drinks, vomit or a combination of the three. Either way, you're in for a nostalgic revival unrestricted by inhibitions. (200 N. Tryon St. 704-358-4244.

Hattie's Tap & Tavern
  • Hattie's Tap & Tavern

Best Multitasker Bar

Hattie's Tap & Tavern

The folks at Hattie's Tap & Tavern, who recently celebrated their two-year anniversary, can do it all. There were too many topics that came up during our Best of Charlotte discussions during which Hattie's came into the discussion. Dog-friendly. LGBT-friendly. Boardgame-friendly. Mario Kart-friendly. Best Game of Thrones watch party. Best Bingo night. Most recently, it's even been virtual reality-friendly. You get the picture. There's always something cool going on at Hattie's. (2918 The Plaza. 980-938-6228.

Best Cocktail Party on the Roof

City Lights at Le Meridien

This chic new rooftop bar at Le Meridien opened back in June. And while it offers a fabulous view of the city, there are also tasty cocktails. The City Lights crew concocts some drinks that are seasonal, too. Their breakout summertime signature drinks were called "Sparkle and Pop" and featured Prosecco with King of Pops popsicles. (555 S. McDowell St. 704-372-9610.

Best Reason to Go Greek for a Cocktail

Goat's Breast Milk at Kid Cashew

This funky little cocktail features amaretto, honey, fresh lemon and mint, and ouzo — cloudy and milky white in appearance with a liquorice-like flavor. This combination makes it all the more enticing and you don't have to go treading through the pastures in search of a goat's teat to suckle (yuck! why the hell would you do that anyway?). Be open-minded and try this one first. The restaurant's other cocktails are delish and tempting, too. You'll be saying "Opa!" in no time. (1608 East Blvd. 704-208-4148.

Best Use of Lavender

The Workman's Friend

You probably think of lavender, if you think of it at all, as a good scent for a lotion or dryer sheet. But lavender is best, I'm here to tell you, when imbibed. The Workman's Friend has invented the perfect girly-girl drink featuring lavender as a main ingredient. (But real men won't let that description dissuade them from trying something this delightful.) "A Fine Thing," as it's called, blends a bubbly prosecco with lavender honey and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. It's somehow even more refreshing when enjoyed on the back patio. (1531 Central Ave. 980-224-8234.

The defunct Crown Station Coffeehouse & Pub
  • The defunct Crown Station Coffeehouse & Pub

Gone Too Soon

Crown Station Coffee House & Pub

This popular, and now defunct, nightlife spot has left our hearts aching. Crown Station, located in the heart of Elizabeth, closed its doors in March of this year. It was our spot for late night latte's, cheap beers in a carefree, casual atmosphere. There was also regular late night local-centric comedy and music open mics, as well live music from a variety of musicians and bands.

Best Dirty Little Secret

Foreplay Goes South

What first started out at UpStage as an open mic series devoted to stories and spoken word related to sex and, for the hopeful romantics out there, love is now a monthly series that's moved over to Hattie's on the second Tuesday of each month. Though you might not be willing to share the first go-round or ever for that matter, you'll feel like a fly on the wall taking in some juicy nooky word play. (2918 The Plaza. 980-938-6228.

Best New Chill Spot

NoDa Company Store

Scott Lindsley and Joey Hewell, the two guys who brought us NoDa Farmer's Market, have teamed up again — they're married so they're pretty much always a team doing awesome things at all times — to open this new spot in a historic home in the center of NoDa, tucked behind Smelly Cat Coffee. Grab some wine or one of the local beers on tap and check out the local art exhibits inside or the picnic tables and swinging chairs on the lawn. CL favorite: there's always red and white sangria mixed and on tap. We suggest you order some. (3221 Yadkin Ave. 980-859-0441.

A cocktail at The Cellar at Duckworth's
  • A cocktail at The Cellar at Duckworth's

Best Place To Go Halfsies on the Bill

The Cellar at Duckworth's

Tucked away down a flight of stairs at the entrance of this Uptown sports bar is The Cellar. It's a little more pretentious than its upstairs counterpart, but the quality is supreme. Mixologists razzle and dazzle patrons with their skills (some of which include the use of fire — the bourbon heavy East Village cocktail) on handcrafted cocktails and then there's the food. There are plenty of delicious small plates that are easily sharable — from flatbreads to the highly recommended truffle mac and cheese. Order several cocktails and small plates and split the bill with a bud while relaxing in this dark, sophisticated atmosphere. (330 N. Tryon St. 980-349-4078.

Best Place To Strike Up A Conversation While Playing NBA Jam

Abari Game Bar

Charlotte’s first arcade/bar hybrid has only grown in popularity since opening in March. Stop in for the monthly pinball tournaments, 40 arcade games or — the main attraction — one of only 12 Killer Queen arcade machines in the world. And yes, don’t forget, beer and liquor are available at the bar. Bring your own change or get a $10 cup o’ quarters up front. (1721 N. Davidson St. 980-430-4587.

Salud Bottle Shop
  • Salud Bottle Shop

Best Place for a Night of Craft Beer Consumption

Salud Bottle Shop

Let's be honest, if you've been in Charlotte for even just the past few months you know that the craft beer movement has exploded here. Breweries are popping up everywhere with great patios and dog-friendly atmospheres. Sometimes it's hard to decide where to go. And then, there are bottle shops — Salud being our fave. It offers diverse selections (local, regional and global) of quality craft beer. Plus, if you get hungry Fud at Salud has a fantastic selection of wafflewiches and other grub, too. (3306 N. Davidson St. 704-900-7767.

Best Place for a First Date


Dish is a great, low-key spot to get to know someone. The lack of pretension in the staff rubs off and makes for a relaxing atmosphere. Also, just about everything on the menu is amazing, including great choices for meat-eaters and herbivores alike. (1220 Thomas Ave. 704-344-0343.


* Best New Night Spot

Kandy Bar, 201 E. Trade St., Suite 342. 980-585-4337.

* Best Weekly Nightlife Event

(tie) Alive After Five and Shiprocked, 210 E. Trade St.; 1228 Gordon;

* Best Annual Party

Charlotte Pride

* Best Club DJ

(tie) DJ Dirty and That Guy Smitty

* Best Dance Club

Suite, 210 E. Trade St., Suite A300. 704-971-7878.

* Best Dog Bar

The Dog Bar, 3307 N. Davidson St. 704-370-3595.

* Bar with Hottest Staff

(tie) Bubble and Label, 210 E. Trade St., Suite A200; 900 NC Music Factory Blvd., Suite B6.;

* Best Cougar Bar

Howl at the Moon, 210 E. Trade St., Suite A308. 704-936-4695.

* Best College Night

Label, 900 NC Music Factory Blvd., Suite B6.

* Best Bar to People-Watch

(tie) Common Market and Snug Harbor, 2007 Commonwealth Ave.; 1228 Gordon St. 704-334-6209; 704-561-1781.;

* Best Hookup Bar

(tie) Suite and Snug Harbor, 210 E. Trade St., Suite A300; 1228 Gordon St. 704-971-7878; 704-561-1781.;

* Best Place for a First Date

Soul Gastrolounge, 1500 Central Ave. 704-348-1848.

* Best Karaoke

(tie) NoDa 101 and Jeff's Bucket Shop, 3205 N. Davidson St., #101;1601 Montford Drive. 980-729-8019; 704-525-0425.;

* Best Wine Bar

Foxcroft, 1235 East Blvd., Suite 1. 704-602-2133.

* Best Happy Hour

Rooftop 210, 210 E. Trade St. 704-526-0848.

* Best Paint and Sip

Wine and Design, 1419 East Blvd. 704-951-5916.

* Best Bowling Alley

10 Park Lanes, 1700 Montford Drive. 704-523-7633.

* Best Neighborhood Bar

Thomas Street Tavern, 1218 Thomas Ave. 704-376-1622

* Best Dive Bar

Thirsty Beaver, 1225 Central Ave. 704-332-3612

* Best Sports Bar

All American Pub, 200 E. Bland St. 704-370-2000.

* Best Hookah Bar

Crave, 500 W. 5th St., Suite 120. 704-335-0588.

* Best LGBTQ Bar

L4 Lounge, 2906 Central Ave. 704-567-2158.

* Best Uptown Bar

Connolly's, 115 E. 5th St. 704-358-9070.

* Best Strip Club

Uptown Cabaret, 108 E. Morehead St. 704-344-0802.

* Best Mixologist

(tie) Bob Peters and Colleen Hughes, The Punch Room; Crepe Cellar, 201 E. Trade St.; 3116 N. Davidson St.;

* Best Bottle Shop

Salud, 3306 N. Davidson St. 704-900-7767.

* Best Cocktail Selection

(tie) The Punch Room and Soul Gastrolounge, 201 E. Trade St.; 1500 Central Ave. 704-547-2244; 704-348-1848,;

* Best Place to Drink Too Many Cocktails

The Broken Spoke, 227 Southside Drive, Suite A1. 704-469-9540.

* Best Craft Tap Selection

Duckworth's, 330 N. Tryon St. 980-939-1166.