Whiskey Smash at Raleigh Times

Who Wants a Shot?

In Eat, October 2015 by Kate Turgeon WatsonLeave a Comment

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Are those 21-and-up celebrating? Do they love the taste? Are they just too busy to commit to a cocktail? Or is it a “look- what-I-can-do” situation? There’s no elegant answer. But we came close at Fox Liquor Bar. “It kind of brings everybody together for a second . . .  drinking the same drink,” Matt Coleman, general manager, says about a group shot.

Not surprising: Some folks are looking for tipsy at a fast clip. (We trust that they’re looking for an Uber, too.)

So, we’ve scoured the local nightlife scene to find some of the best shots at Raleigh bars. For sippers, shooters and even “I-would-never” onlookers, here’s a glimpse at what’s happening in some tiny glasses around town.


WHISKEY SMASH (pictured above)

It starts with two lemon wedges, a dash of simple syrup and mint simple syrup. Up next: fresh mint sprigs smacked for flavor and muddled in the shaker. Finally: Bulleit Bourbon; otherwise known as “frontier whiskey.” What hits you first? The lemon flavor, says Raleigh Times bartender Cameron Burns says. “And you should get little mint pieces in there, too, if I did it right,” he laughs. “The simple syrup cuts the bourbon. You can taste the bourbon, but you don’t get that bite.”



There’s music, the clank-clank of air hockey and patrons in baseball caps. Inside Boxcar Arcade on West Davie Street, there are also shot specials such as the caramel-ly Jack Honey on Saturdays. Suggested chaser? Coca-Cola. (P.S. Any purchase on a Monday gets you two free game tokens.)

Jack Honey shot

3. FERNET-BRANCA (in the picture below the Fernet-Branca is on the left, the Raspberry Daiquiri on the right)

Often ordered with a beer, the Fernet-Branca shot is known in restaurant culture as a “bartender’s handshake,” Fox Liquor Bar manager Matt Coleman says. “If I was in New York and they found out I was a cocktail bartender, they’d probably send a shot of Fernet-Branca.”


Fresh lime juice, simple syrup, white Rum, muddled raspberries and bitters make this Fox Liquor Bar shot. It’s shaken with Kold-Draft ice, strained into a shot glass and served with a fresh raspberry. No chaser.



This $25 dollar, multi-step shot is the thing. And it’s happening, albeit less frequently than a Miller Lite, at the Bison on Whitaker Mill Road. Ask the barkeep for a Bison Bomb, and he’ll start building with a one-ounce Fireball shot. In another glass: grenadine, more Fireball and Sprite. And in another one-ounce shot glass: Jameson Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream. In still another glass: four ounces of Guinness. Finally, it’s a pitcher with 8.5 ounces of Red Bull and a shot of vodka. (We know. You and your stomach barely made it through the written description, right?)

The pitcher, two glasses and two shot glasses are stacked together in Jenga-like fashion.

“I’ve seen people ages 21 to 88 try this . . .  it’s a novelty,” manager Scott Alexander says.

Shot glass

The order of events:

1. Pick up fireball (which sends the Jameson mixture into the Guinness) and consume;

2. Slide grenadine mixture into the Red Bull in pitcher;

3. Drink Guinness mixture;

4. Then, have what’s in the pitcher.

— Kate Turgeon Watson

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