Cheers: Raise Your Glass To Local Signature Cocktails

The days of the cosmopolitan are numbered. Restaurants around Western Wake are mixing up new cocktails with boutique liquors, fresh ingredients and a splash of creativity. Whether you prefer something fruity for a warm evening or something sweet to end a meal, local chefs and bartenders are reinventing classic recipes and adding their own personality to bring you signature cocktails that are as unique as they are delicious.

The work’s been tedious and the hours long, but we’ve found a selection of drinks that will impress you with their presentation and flavor. Now … who’s thirsty?

Hibiscus Kiss
An, known for its gourmet Asian-inspired cuisine, continues the same level of craftsmanship found on the menu into its specialty cocktails. Fruit juices are made in house every day and accented with one-of-a-kind ingredients, like lemongrass-infused simple syrup, lychee puree and dehydrated pear chips.

Manager James Yang says the cocktails are designed to complement the food, not overpower it. “The freshness that you would enjoy, you won’t get that anywhere else.”

Flavors are subtly layered to produce clean and fresh drinks that stand on their own or pair well with dinner. The Hibiscus Kiss, made of Taltarni Brut Rose sparkling wine, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur and hibiscus syrup, is garnished with a pickled hibiscus flower at the bottom of the glass. The drink tastes sweet and bubbly, and yes, you can eat the flower.

2800 Renaissance Park Place, Cary

Other favorites: (View photos of all the drinks in the gallery below)
Agave Negro
Asian Pear Margarita
Tom Yum Martini

Italian Espresso Martini
With a name like Vino, you know you’ll find a wide selection of wine to accompany the “old world meets new world” classic Italian dishes served here. But Assistant Manager Chris Rogers has made sure you’ll also get a taste of Italy in the specialty cocktail offerings. Rogers, who developed most of the cocktails on the menu, wanted to “bring something different to the table.”

“There’s a couple core liquors used in almost any Italian drink, and amaretto is one of the main ones,” said Rogers. Amaretto appears frequently on Vino’s cocktail menu to give an Italian flair to familiar flavors.

The Italian Espresso Martini features espresso vodka, amaretto, fresh espresso, whipped cream and a dusting of espresso grounds. The sweet and creamy drink offers a caffeine boost to rev up a tired evening.


Vino Ristorante
1106 Grace Park Drive, Morrisville

Other favorites:
Blueberry Lemon Fizz
Cucumber Mint Mojito
Green Giant

Cake Batter Martini
Chef’s Palette Bar Manager Ashley Monaco makes no secret that the Cake Batter Martini is her favorite specialty cocktail on the menu. It’s tasty, fun and interesting visually, she said. “Once one goes out, everybody wants one. Because it’s so fun, how could you not?”

Inspired by cake batter ice cream, the martini combines Pinnacle Cake Vodka, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, amaretto and cream in a martini glass garnished with rainbow sprinkles on the rim. The decadent concoction is sweet but has just enough bite to keep you from downing the entire thing in one gulp.

Monaco updates the drink menu seasonally (though the Cake Batter Martini is there to stay), and the spring menu features fresh and fruity flavors that are all appealing to the eye, staying consistent with Chef’s Palette’s philosophy that the dining experience is enjoyed through the sense of sight as well as taste.

Chef’s Palette
3460 Ten Ten Road, Cary

Other favorites:
Coconut Blue Hawaiian
White Sangria
Cucumber Lemonade
Raspberry Margarita

The Revolution
Lucky 32 Executive Chef Jay Pierce hopes to rekindle interest in whiskey, and in starting a meal with a cocktail — one that isn’t necessarily sweet. “We’re making more cocktails with brown whiskey. Trying to do three ingredients and have that be it, to showcase the liquor that we’re sourcing.”

Pierce has filled the cocktail menu with both familiar and unfamiliar flavors, but each drink has a twist that makes it unique to Lucky 32. Like house-made Bloody Mary mix or handmade Midnight Moon moonshine. “The idea is that we breathe new life into old cocktails. Get some really fantastic ingredients and make it tasty and unintimidating,” said Pierce.

The Revolution, a simple mix of Maker’s Mark 46 and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur with an orange twist is one of the first drinks Pierce created that inspired the menu’s shift toward whiskey drinks. He juxtaposes the masculinity of the ingredients by serving it in a martini glass.



Lucky 32
7307 Tryon Road, Cary

Other favorites:
Smokey Mary (Get Lucky 32’s Recipe for Bloody Mary Mix here!)
Purple Jay


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