From locally crafted brews to trendy rooftop cocktails and mocktails, Wilmington offers a variety of drinks and venues to suit every preference. Experience the city’s beverage scene while enjoying refreshing craft drinks and brews – often served with a coastal twist of scenic views.
From Rooftop to Riverside
Located on Aloft Wilmington's seventh floor, aView Rooftop Bistro features seasonal outdoor seating areas with cozy firepits, as well as an indoor lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows. Relish sweeping views of the Cape Fear River as you sip on unique craft cocktails such as the Purple Heart, a mesmerizing concoction with Ketel One Vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, shimmery pomegranate and lime juice. Try the Carolina Girl, featuring Hendricks Gin, Aperol and prosecco, along with charred rosemary syrup and lemon juice. aView’s beverage selection is complemented by a rotating menu of savory shareables like fresh oysters, charcuterie plates and slider sandwiches.
Cloud 9, a seasonally open rooftop bar, boasts an extensive wine and cocktail menu, as well as more than a dozen beers on tap. Unwind riverside with your drink of choice as you watch the sunset paint the sky pink. Live performances by musicians and DJs are held most Friday and Saturday nights, adding to the fantastic ambiance. Try the Call it Fate, crafted with tequila, watermelon, habanero honeydew, fresh lime and a pickled watermelon rind, or the Bullet with Butterfly Wings, combining bourbon with flavors of pear, honey, ginger and lemon. Opt for a mocktail with Into the Mystic, which combines a Dry London non-alcoholic spirit with ginger beer, agave, mint and lime. Pair your unique drink with the Loaded Crab Dip or Carolina Disco Chips.
Satisfy your thirst and aesthetic sensibilities at Sauce’d, a colorful cocktail spot that also doubles as a gourmet french fry bar. Choose from a menu of Instagram-worthy creations like the Barbie Girl, which mixes coconut rum and flavors of passionfruit, lime and cranberry with edible glitter, or the Lavender Moon with Blue Shark Vodka, crème de violette and flavors of lavender and lemon. Sauce’d provides the perfect location for enjoying Riverwalk views alongside your beverage.
Floating on the water right off the Riverwalk, Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill is a repurposed barge that serves casual bites like fried pickles and seafood platters alongside draft beers and signature cocktails. Treat yourself to a drink as sweet as the Cape Fear River views, such as the frozen Dreamsicle cocktail featuring orange vodka and vanilla ice cream, or the Mango Mule with mango puree and fresh lime juice. The frozen rosé, a blended concoction with fruit puree, is a popular favorite aboard Anne Bonny’s.
Not Your Mama’s Cocktails
Escape the mundane with speakeasies and bars that go above and beyond to perfect their craft. At manna ave. 123, in-house mixologists use the freshest fruits and herbs to create truly exceptional drinks. The AAA Four-Diamond restaurant’s award-winning cocktail menu changes often, so sample something new every time you visit. Earnest Money & Sons, an extension of manna, is an intimate speakeasy and cocktail lounge with a nominal annual membership fee. Order a sophisticated cocktail from the speakeasy’s curated menu or ask the talented bartender to craft a custom libation just for you.
Step back in time as you walk into The Blind Elephant, a 1920s Prohibition-style speakeasy tucked away in a quiet alley. Consult the bar’s chalkboard menu of mixologist-crafted signature elixirs, or opt for a classic bourbon cocktail. Play some pool while classic films flicker on the exposed brick wall and pianists perform live jazz on select evenings.
Nestled in the heart of downtown, The Underfront Company offers an array of craft cocktails full of bold flavors. From fresh and fruity concoctions to bold and smokey libations and everything in between, the drink menu offers something for every palate, even those searching for alcohol-free options.
Banter, a cozy spot designed as a place for people to unplug, is the perfect place to reconnect over craft or mock cocktails while enjoying live acoustic music. Bring your friends or meet new ones and sip on the Madonna Mule, a twist on the classic cocktail with added flavors of blueberry and pear.
Whiskey lovers won’t want to miss Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a rustic, relaxed bar specializing in craft cocktails. Sample one of the 30-plus single malt whiskeys or get your whiskey fix with a Cedar Smoked Old Fashioned or Rhubarb Reverse Manhattan. Even those averse to whiskey will find something to love on the menu, which includes options like the Cotton Candy Martini and Lemon Meringutong.
Brews with Character
Beer aficionados will be delighted by Wilmington’s diverse selection of local breweries, including Flytrap Brewing. Named after the native Venus flytrap, this dog-friendly brewery offers small-batch beers, in addition to wine, kombucha and craft sodas. Settle down on the outdoor patio with live music on the weekends as you try a craft beer like the crisp and refreshing Belgian Blonde or the seasonal Grapefruit Gose.
As Wilmington’s original restaurant and brewery, Front Street Brewery serves award-winning craft brews and a menu that goes beyond typical pub fare. While relaxing in the third-floor taproom or on the dog-friendly patio, sample a seasonal beer like the Citrus Supernova, an ultra-orangery blend of Belgian White and Port City IPA. Or, select a flagship beer like the Riptide Raspberry Ale, a wheat beer brewed with real raspberry juice. The brewery also boasts a curated series of single barrel whiskey, which can be enjoyed by the glass or in a flight.
Carrying the name of the infamous pirate better known as Blackbeard, Edward Teach Brewing is housed in a 100-year-old former firehouse reimagined with a pirate theme and ship-shaped bar on the first floor. Sample a flight of beers or indulge in a staple draft, like the Teaches Peaches Peach Wheat, Devil’s Son IPA, Pistol Proof German Lager or Black Spot Black Lager.
Waterline Brewing Co. offers tours and tastings in its dog-friendly taproom, which is located in a 1940s warehouse under the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. Bring the whole family along for outdoor games like cornhole, and choose a flagship ale or a seasonable brew from the chalkboard draft list. There’s something for every beer lover here, from the German Kolsch and American Pale Ale to the Oatmeal Stout and the Belgian Tripel.
Wilmington’s breweries, bars and speakeasies promise not only one-of-a-kind craft cocktails and brews, but also one-of-a-kind vacation experiences. Shake things up with a getaway to this historic riverfront city and explore its bustling craft beverage scene.