N.C. is becoming home to some amazing distilleries. With Greater Raleigh restaurants continuing to support local products, it's rather easy to find beverages concocted with local spirits. For those of you who are new to the N.C. spirits scene, I wanted to take some time to introduce you to some of my favorite places in Greater Raleigh to grab a drink. There are also wonderful events coming up in Greater Raleigh featuring N.C. spirits.

On May 10 the Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh will host Arthouse 2013, a celebration for their third year anniversary and an art auction. Ashley Christensen and Scott Crawford of The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary are in charge of the food. These fantastic Greater Raleigh chefs have developed a phenomenal menu inspired by the art itself. The event will also feature well-known mixologists from C. Grace, Fox Liquor Bar, Bida Manda and Foundation making craft cocktails for the guests. There will also be a cocktail competition featuring N.C. spirits. C. Grace will be featuring a TOPO vodka cocktail and Poole's Diner will be preparing a TOPO Piedmont gin cocktail. Purchase your tickets before the event sells out!

CAM_00012wPhoto credit: CAM Raleigh

The OC Bar & Grill is one of the newest establishments in Greater Raleigh dedicated to using local spirits. The OC Bar & Grill features local liquors such as, Red Wolf Vodka, TOPO Carolina Whiskey, Cardinal Gin and Junior Johnson’s Strawberry Moonshine. The drinks also include house made bitters, fresh squeezed juices and house made syrups. Their strawberry lemonade speciality cocktail includes Junior Johnson’s Strawberry Moonshine, fresh squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, basil and a lemon wedge. I can definitely see myself drinking this artisan cocktail on their patio this summer!

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The Bee Sting is one of my favorite cocktails at Sitti Restaurant. This Southern classic cocktail is made using Midnight Moon, a corn whiskey distilled at Piedmont Distillers in Madison, N.C. All of Sitti's juices, syrups and garnishes are house made. The Bee Sting includes lemon juice, mint and simple syrup infused with honey. The best part about the drink is not only is the liquor produced locally, but the honey is directly from the hives on Sitti’s rooftop at 137 S. Wilmington St. Freshly steeped Ceylon Pekoe black tea from Tin Roof Teas in Cameron Village finishes off this perfect local and sustainable cocktail.

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Photo credit: Sitti Restaurant

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen's Purple Jay is a delicious artisan cocktail using local products. The Purple Jay is named after the popular party punch we all drank in college and the restaurant's Executive Chef Jay Pierce.

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Photo credit: Cary Magazine

Visit Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Cary to try this popular, fruity cocktail. Chef Jay was so kind to share his recipe with us, which is below.

purple jay recipeBe on the lookout for events at Greater Raleigh restaurants like Zely & Ritz, who hosted a liquor dinner using TOPO products. The dinner was quite a hit with Chef Sarig pairing TOPO artisan cocktails with amazing gastronomical creations. The dessert was a crowd favorite, TOPO Vodka Grapefruit Cello paired with grapefruit creamsicle ice cream. Pictured below is Just Crumb's Carrie Nickerson crafting her take on the vesper cocktail with TOPO vodka at the Zely & Ritz liquor dinner.

IMG_4001There are so many wonderful places in Greater Raleigh serving local artisan cocktails, the possibilites are endless. Cheers, and have fun exploring Greater Raleigh!