raleigh’s earliest open bar, latest open coffee shop, & perfect place to treat yourself any time of day
by Avivah with Offline
Pour Taproom 101
Honestly, we think we might have found Raleigh’s best-kept secret. Because, while you’ve likely heard of Bittersweet, you probably didn’t know that they start serving booze at the shockingly legal time of 7a on weekdays? (We fact-checked to be sure and it’s not illegal—just amazing.)
Besides being Raleigh’s earliest open bar, Bittersweet also holds the title of its latest open coffee shop—pouring the midnight oil until, well, midnight most days (and even later on weekends). The icing on the cake? They also serve the most delightfully decadent (and a little irreverent) desserts all day and all night.
No matter what vice you’re after, Bittersweet is there to serve—they’re always down to help celebrate occasions big and small (or just to make a regular day more festive). Just in case you need more convincing, here are five A+ excuses Bittersweet offers to treat yo self any time of day, any day of the week.
what to order
1. Cocktails You Can Drink from Morning to Night
They have coffee. They have cocktails. They have cocktails MADE WITH COFFEE.
While the folks at Bittersweet will never judge you for drinking whatever the heck you want at any time of day (yes, even if that’s a gin martini in the morning or a negroni at noon), they’ve developed a special daytime menu full of drinks specially-crafted for early imbibing. Think drinks like the “Bartender’s Coffee” ($11) which features an americano spiked with Fernet Branca and topped with whipped cream, or the “Toasted Almond” ($11) with amaretto, house-made coffee liqueur, cream and nutmeg. A fan favorite for cozy afternoon drinking during the winter months is the “Bad Santa” ($12) hot cocoa with gin and a house-made, on-the-spot roasted marshmallow.
And worry not if you miss the day drinking crowd: the evening drinks are no less delicious and include some of their infamous coffee bevs, along with a full menu of creative, you-won’t-find-these-anywhere-else craft cocktails. One we recommend not missing this winter? The magical color-changing “Drosselmeyer’s Christmas Potion” ($13) created in partnership with The Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker, which will be available throughout December (and potentially longer depending on how many of them y’all drink, but you didn’t hear that from us).
2. Some of the Most Decadent Desserts in the Triangle
Bittersweet takes its sweets seriously, and no matter what time day you waltz in, you’re sure to find something that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth. Their selection of treats rotates seasonally, and some specials—like their weekly cakes, cupcakes, and pies—are imagined up day-of based on the chef’s inspiration and announced via Instagram (so make sure to keep an eye out for those incredibly craveable treats that simply speak to you).
Some favorites you can get no matter what time of year include the Salty Chipwich Ice Cream Sandwich ($9) which is rolled in bourbon caramel corn (and limited to two per patron because they’re just that good) and their classic Derby Pie ($8).
Bittersweet will also be launching its winter menu soon, and you can be sure to expect some favorites to return this year, like the Cookie Plate (with a special infused milk on the side) and the “This Shit is Bananas” caramelized banana rum cheesecake.
3. Specials for Celebrating Every Day of the Week
No matter what day of the week it is, Bittersweet’s specials will give you an excuse to celebrate. While their Thursday bubbles and cake is probably the most well-known, it’s worth noting all the other treats you can score throughout the week.
- Monday: Half-priced pie and half-priced bottles and cans of beer
- Tuesday: $8 Tiki Tuesday special or $8 bittersweet boilermaker (glass of rosé + shot of Malfy gin)
- Wednesday: $7 classic cocktails (Martini, Old-Fashioned, or Manhattan)
- Thursday: Bubbles & cake (baby bottle of Chandon and a cupcake for $11)
- Friday & Saturday: Five house-made, specialty shots for $20
- Sunday: Weekly pie, movie night and occasional special surprises announced on Instagram
4. Gins That’ll Make Anyone Like Gin
Okay, maybe not ANYONE but Bittersweet really prides itself in its collection of (and passion for) flavorful gin—so you better believe they find lots and lots of ways to spread the word, incorporating and introducing the botanical bev in a ton of creative ways. Their Gin Flights ($25-$30) are fun order if you want to try some different options to find one you love best. Each flight has a theme, such as the “Local” or the “Barrel-Rested” flight (which is good for folks who love bourbon and think they hate gin). Each flight is served with a beautiful and informative guide that’ll walk you through the flavors to expect in each sip, as well as cocktail suggestions so you can keep drinking after you find a fave.
Bittersweet’s Gin & Jam ($11-$17) cocktail is another noteworthy choice on the menu, where you can pick any gin off their extensive menu, alongside your choice of local jam. They shake ’em together for a sweet, fruity, and herbaceous treat. While it usually costs $4 plus the price of gin, if you purchase a jar of jam from Raleigh Provisions across the street and bring your receipt to Bittersweet the same day, you can get one of these cocktails with ANY GIN for only $3! Grab some holiday stocking stuffers and get to cheers-ing.
5. Special Events to Learn More About Your Favorite Bevs
Bittersweet amps up the party from time to time with their ever-popular, quarterly champagne classes, gin clubs, and other special occasion events. These events usually cost around $45 and include multiple drink samplings with expert commentary from your guide on what you should be tasting so you can sound super-smart and impressive next time you’re out partying with your friends.
The pièce de résistance in Bittersweet’s dedication to celebration? They offer Dom Pérignon by the glass, a rare find for this luxury bubbly. Sure, a flute will set you back $50, but it’s definitely worth keeping in the back of your mind for those extra special occasions. À votre santé!