If you walk into Soul Gastrolounge (1500-B Central Ave.), you'll notice something new and shiny in the corner of the bar.
Soul, in all of its Plaza Midwood forward thinking, now offers select cocktails on tap. These vintage-inspired brass spigots, the only ones you'll find in Charlotte (at least for now), look more refined than typical beer taps, and their handles can be changed out with various liquor brands.
One churns out the Bangkok Sling, made with Bombay Sapphire East (a peppercorn and lemongrass gin), cherry Heering, Bénédictine, Cointreau, house-made pomegranate grenadine, lime, pineapple and Angostura. The other dispenses a longtime Soul staple, the Wise Old Buffalo, crafted with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Aperol, Lillet Rouge, and hints of orange and sage.
Behind the chic appearance of the taps, there's real practicality. If you've ventured into Soul on any night of the week, you'd know why.
"With our volume, trying to push out these cocktails has always been a problem," says beverage director Andy Maurer. "I want to do cool stuff the right way. I don't care how busy I am, it's going to be right. We've had to develop a way to make cocktails fast to pump them out but keep the creativity and quality the same."
Cocktail taps have been flowing for years in cities like New York and San Francisco, where the volume at cocktail bars is high and the expectation for quality is even higher. And though taps may be a simple fix, the process of attaining approval from the Alcohol Beverage Commission was anything but a cakewalk for Maurer. North Carolina has a number of liquor laws in place that prohibit bartenders from pouring drinks from anything other than an ABC-labeled bottle. So, when a bartender decides he wants to pour pre-mixed drinks from a spigot, you can bet the board wants to hear about it first.
With the taps in place, Maurer says he can spend less time measuring, stirring and shaking and more time garnishing a perfect-every-time cocktail. And since Soul has a reputation for making some of the funkiest drinks in town, the taps were essential. After all, cocktail slinging is an art form that begs attention to detail.