Drink in Sights and Scenic Views in Wilmington and Island Beaches
You can find a spot to grab a cocktail pretty much anywhere these days. But according to locals, what sets Wilmington’s coastal craft cocktail scene apart is its lack of big-city pretension, strong focus on creativity, fresh ingredients and unique locations - including killer waterfront views, intimate and rustic speakeasies and historic buildings. Immerse yourself in the bar scene known for its locales as much as its cocktails as you enjoy unique spots and drinks with a view.
Sip on unique takes on classic cocktails at The Blind Elephant, a 1920s prohibition speakeasy tucked away in a hidden alley. Once you’re inside, choose from a rotating list of cocktails written on a blackboard, and a selection of bourbons or moonshine. Jazz up your evening with live piano held every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
A Fresh Take on Classic Cocktails
Indulge in award-winning drinks by the talented mixologists at manna ave. 123. The AAA Four-Diamond restaurant curates a list of exceptional wines and spirits from around the world. Cocktails are taken very seriously here and use the finest and freshest ingredients available including fruits and a selection of herbs. The menu is ever-changing, so don’t spend your time getting hooked on a favorite.
The minds behind manna ave. 123 also own Earnest Money & Sons. The quintessential private club ($24 to join) for members and their guests, creates an intimate cocktail spot and delivers refreshing, thoughtfully made libations, interesting wines and local and regional beers. For a night of entertainment, check out Bourgie Nights, located next to manna, for brilliant acoustics, live music and a unique bar.
Stop in for a snack and a nightcap at Front Street Brewery. The restaurant and bar has been honored as one of America’s Top Bourbon Bars by the Bourbon Review, thanks to its whiskey selection, which is the largest in the state of North Carolina.
Enjoy hand-crafted cocktails at Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot—a rustic, relaxed bar that offers fun signature drinks like the Cotton Candy Martini, Margarita Boba and Adult Freezy Pops. Also on the menu, you’ll find 30 single malt whiskeys, craft beers, a rotating local snack selection and cigars.
Something for Everyone
Toast a moment in our nation’s history at Rebellion NC that offers a selection of whiskeys celebrating the Whiskey Rebellion. Located in a restored historic building, visitors can select the beverage of their choice from a 28-tap local craft beer selection, extensive whiskey list and craft cocktails that salute our history, too, such as the Congress Hall and The Resistance — both made with bourbon and other liqueurs.
Those who enjoy craft beverages without the alcohol will want to check out Mocksie, a non-alcoholic bottle shop in Wilmington's South Front District. The bottle shop serves non-alcoholic mixed drinks, beers, wines and zero-proof spirits including Spiritless, Lyre's and more. Find more mocktails at The Green House, Dram & Draught, The Blind Elephant, Panacea Brewing Company and more.
Rooftop Drinks with a View
Step out onto the terrace bar featuring craft cocktails with views of the WWII Battleship NORTH CAROLINA at Cloud 9. Located on the rooftop of the Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront Hotel in downtown Wilmington, Cloud 9 is one of the best spots in town to catch the sunset over the Cape Fear River. The hotspot features several craft cocktails, local brews (22 on tap), specialty mules and rosé, all of which can be paired with locally inspired small plates.
Swing by aView, a rooftop bistro at Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center, to sip on innovative craft cocktails while taking in stunning views of the Cape Fear River. Pair your libations with shareable plates and tapas like charcuterie boards, oysters on the half shell and more.
Rooftop views of the Cape Fear River and fun for everyone can be found at the Reel Café. You’ll find four bars, daily drink specials — including beer, wine and mixed drinks — and live music overlooking historic downtown. Located atop the iconic Masonic Lodge in the heart of historic downtown, The Rooftop Bar at North Front Theatre provides breathtaking, unobstructed views of the Cape Fear River. Grab a cold one or a refreshing cocktail to dance the night away to a DJ’s tunes or live music.
Enjoy a nightcap at local watering hole Board & Barrel Coastal Kitchen, located in the Hotel Ballast. Mixologists at this indoor and outdoor restaurant and bar create fresh original cocktails like the Wamax, made with Sombra mezcal, banana du bresil, coconut milk, lime, agave and salted grapefruit foam, and classics like the Old Fashioned. The outdoor patio invites patrons to enjoy a fire pit on Saturdays with sweeping views of the Cape Fear River and Battleship NORTH CAROLINA.
Pair fanciful cocktail creations with a curated menu of fries and dipping sauces at Sauce'd. Located right on the Riverwalk, the dining concept offers prime sunset views over the river from their heated patio. Sip a Moonshine Mule or a Good Vibes Only, two of the signature cocktail creations, while enjoying your choice of fries. Bring your camera with you - the decor, drinks and locale make for a picture perfect Instagrammable moment.
Watch boats float down the Cape Fear River while you savor cocktails, wine and beer at Elijah’s, Pilot House and The George. The three restaurants offer outdoor seating right on Wilmington’s Riverwalk that are the perfect spots to catch a sunset over the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA and sip on your beverage of choice.
Adventure to Smoke on the Water, a restaurant tucked away from Wilmington’s downtown in a spot just off the water. The restaurant’s deck offers large round tables perfect for large groups, cocktails and incredible sunset views. Don’t forget to walk along the pier over the water to snap a vacation photo to remember.
A Floating Bar(ge) and Marinaside Drinks
Enjoy fresh air and frozen cocktails as you step aboard the docked barge at Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill. Wilmington’s only floating bar is named after the Irish pirate who worked under Jack Rantham and sailed along Wilmington’s waters. It’s an excellent place to soak up a sunset and views of the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. Enjoy a frozen cocktail (did someone say Sangria Slushie?!), hand-made cocktail (the Pirate Punch is a favorite), wine or beer.
Grab a craft beer, glass of vino or cocktail and enjoy the seasonal concerts outside of Marina Grill, located at Port City Marina. Those who travel by boat can dock their vessel at the marina to pop in for a quick bite and drink. The restaurant and bar host signature events throughout the year including Springtime Yoga Pier Pressure and Mimosas, and Music in the Outside Boatyard Area.
Waterfront drinks can also be found along the Intracoastal Waterway by the drawbridge heading into Wrightsville Beach. Bluewater Waterfront Grill, Bridge Tender, Dockside and Fish House Grill all offer wine, beer and signature cocktails. And all function as marinas, which means you can simply dock your boat for a well-deserved drink after a day on the water.
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