The warms vibes of summer are officially here in the Queen City. Everyone seems to be buzzing with energy in Uptown. Nine-to-fivers pile out of the skyscrapers we’ve all come to recognize as the heartbeat of Charlotte and head to happy hour after work. And what’s most exciting? All the newness and unfamiliarity that comes with new venues as the city continues to grow.
This past week it was my mission to try something new. While going out and consuming my fair share of beverages gives me something to look forward to after a long work day, or week, it’s completely normal to get tired of the same ole, same ole.
First on tap, was coordinating a happy hour with my team. We didn’t want a venue where we would feel uncomfortable or dressed down, so we went carefully through a list of unfamiliar venues. Since they were a younger group, with less experience going out in Uptown, I had no qualms with suggesting Flight Beer Garden & Music Hall, which opened a month or so ago.
If you’re familiar with the ever-changing nightlife scene in Charlotte, then you know that venue names change pretty regularly. Flight is the newest update to the ongoing College Street renovations. It was previously Re:Public, an urban nightlife spot. I had visited the popular venue a couple times before when an old roommate worked the door. I was shocked at the changes as we pulled out our IDs at the door, entered the courtyard and filled out an info sheet before receiving our membership cards. (Sidenote: Most places are doing membership cards around the city now, so prepare for more than flashing your ID.)
We grabbed a seat at one of the many picnic tables — which coincidentally, were purchased from one of my teammates’ previous employer — inside underneath a skylight and pulled out the drink menu. The inside bar features more than 80 different local beers, so of course the first thing I searched for was a sour ale. Luckily, there was more than one. I grabbed Sierra Nevada’s Otra Vez and kicked off happy hour with the team.
A laid-back and bright atmosphere during the early evening, we could all definitely say we’d be back for drinks after work in the future. And it wasn’t until I returned Friday night, when I met up with my partner in crime, that I noticed the outside bar. I flashed my ID and stepped through the doorway welcomed by a much more familiar vibe — dim lighting, contagious laughter, drunken conversations and live music. Overwhelmed by the amount of people inside, I opted for waiting for my friend at the more anti-social bar outside.
Since it was also her first visit, she too, was impressed by the overall look and feel of the only beer garden and music hall Uptown. While she didn’t remember much about the time when we’d come to Re:Public together, we both agreed the change was a good one. And for those that like food and games, there’s cornhole and a full menu that features a tantalizing mac and cheese that I’ll be ordering the next time around.
The highlight of my week, however, was attending the grand opening of nightlife siblings, Craft City Social Club and City Lights Uptown. The first, is located on the first floor of the Sheraton, alongside a pool. The second offers an immaculate view of the skyline from the rooftop of Le Meridien next door.
With more free time than normal, my boyfriend surprised me when he suggested we check it out on Thursday night. While it was rainy Thursday afternoon, the drizzle stopped enough for us to enjoy a couple cocktails at both venues. We parked in the lot to the right of the Sheraton, grabbed an umbrella and headed toward the entrance.
The key takeaways:
* Each venue features a different drink/food menu (prices ranging from $7-$17 for food and $9-$26 for cocktails).
* Craft City Social Club, downstairs in Sheraton, features games such as darts, pool, shuffleboard, Connect Four and Jenga.
* Did I mention the best part about being poolside? There’s pool access and cabanas available for rent.
* While the rooftop bar, City Lights, doesn’t have beer on tap (making for a more expensive night), this bar is home to a popular cocktail concoction — bubbly with your choice of a popsicle.
* Lastly, the rooftop patio atmosphere and skyline view is amazing.
Have you tried a new spot in the Queen City? Share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.