In the world of cocktails to go, life is better stirred than shaken.
That’s the advice of longtime Triangle bartender Shannon Healey, owner of Alley Twenty-Six in Durham and co-owner of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.
Cocktails are generally the combination of mood and spirit. For take-away cocktails, customers set the mood with bars.
Just days before Christmas, Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order that allows bars and restaurants in the state to prepare and package mixed drinks to take away. There are very special rules for ordering a take-away cocktail, including only one drink per person and of course it can only be opened when you are safely home.
Since there is time between preparation and drinking, Healey said that stirred drinks like a Negroni or Manhattan should hold better than shaken drinks like a margarita or whiskey sour.
“The stirred cocktails work best,” Healey said. “You’re more bulletproof.”
To-go cocktails have gotten the go-ahead in most states, a little wiggle room in the liquor bill that is supposed to bring extra revenue to the swirling bar and restaurant industry. Healey said it was a small step forward given the ordering restrictions, but a step forward nonetheless.
“I look forward to take-out cocktails,” said Healey. “It’s a baby step; it is not the answer to all of our problems. But at this point we need as many answers as possible. I’m joking that we have a very strict 10-day pivot schedule. “
Healey said the hardest thing to give up on take-away cocktails is control that the final hand serving the drink is not your own, meaning that the consumer may put it in the freezer or before Drink must shake one last time.
“Just as chefs have been reluctant to put certain dishes in take-away containers, so are bartenders with cocktails,” said Healey. “You lose a certain amount of control. You leave half the technology to someone else, so to speak. “
Here are some of the best triangle bars and restaurants that offer take-away cocktails:
110 E. Main St., Carrboro. 919-929-2263 or acmecarrboro.com.
Look for: Egg Liqueur aged three weeks and stirred classics like Manhattan and Vieux Carre.
320 E. Chapel Hill St., Durham. 984-439-2278 or alleytwentysix.com.
Look For: A cool box of grab-and-go cocktails, including a pre-made Negroni, Manhattan, and barrel-aged martini. Frozen take-away cocktails are also available when the bar is open.
105 S. Mangum St., Durham. 919-973-3000 or barvirgile.com.
Look out for: bags of sangria or the BAM, which stands for the ultimate margarita.
16 E. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-977-3829 or bittersweetraleigh.com.
Look for: A smoky and tangy Old Fashioned and a range of coffee cocktails, including an Espresso Martini and the Thicc Mint, with vodka, espresso, chocolate milk and mint.
3055 Medlin Drive, Raleigh. blindbarbour.com.
Look Out For: This Raleigh bar takes takeout orders via Instagram direct messages, with plenty of options for bourbon lovers.
2330 Bale St., Raleigh. 919-594-1930 or chidotaco.com.
Look for: margaritas, of course.
14 W. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-833-6886 or garlandraleigh.com.
Look for: The Magdelena, a smoky tamarind margarita.
555 Fayetteville St., # 115 Raleigh. thehaymakerraleigh.com.
Look for: “Cousin Eddie” eggnog made with almond milk, cream, brandy, sherry and spices.
Jack Tar Diner
202 Corcoran St., Durham. 919-682-5225 or jacktar-durham.com.
Look for: A very special, year-old egg liqueur, with brunch classics like Bloody Mary or Bloody Maria.
321 E. Chapel Hill St., Durham. kingfisherdurham.com.
Look for: Virtually any cocktail your heart desires. With Kingfisher’s online ordering system, drinkers can choose from almost all of the classics, which are then made to order for collection.
426 S. McDowell St., Raleigh. 919-832-4477 or ac-restaurants.com/pooles
Look For: Cocktails in glass bottles, including a White Russian and a Last Word made with Gin, Lime, Chartreause, and Luxardo.
140 W. Franklin St., No. 110, Chapel Hill. 919-903-8000 or quechulatacos.com.
Look For: A wide variety of margarita options, plus michelada mix served with a tecate.
215 E. Chatham St., Cary. 919-588-3063 or sidebarnc.com.
Look For: All of your favorites including a house margarita and touched classics like a Manhattan, Negroni, and a Cosmopolitan.
Wilhelm & Co.
616 N. Person St., Raleigh. 919-335-3165 or facebook.com/WillcoBar
Look Out: This Person Street Corridor bar has their full printed take-away menu.
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Drew Jackson writes on restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun and reports on the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.