On a small corner in Downtown sits a building that used to be a Piggly Wiggly. These days it’s been reborn as one of Raleigh’s most successful and sought after Restaurants– Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. Popular for its Chicken and Waffles and creative takes on classic southern sides, Beasley’s also offers a variety of their own home-made cocktails.
A blackboard on the wall above the bar lists the specially crafted cocktails which changes seasonally. At $8 a drink, the prices seem a little high at first sight, but it’s at first sip where they win you over. I stopped in and tried some of their more popular and adventurous drinks and here are my picks from their list.
The Benton Old-Fashioned
The Old-Fashioned is a classic staple for any bourbon lover, but the Benton is far from the classic. Made with bacon-washed bourbon, Angostura bitters, maple syrup, and served with an orange peel garnish, this Old-Fashioned skips the muddled cherry flavoring for a more sweet and savory flavor. What is truly great about the drink is that nothing is overpowered and its simple recipe lets you taste every flavor in it. All in one sip you get the warmth and smoothness of the bourbon and the sweetness of the maple syrup. Most of the flavor is derived from the bacon-washed bourbon. Made by taking bacon fat and letting it sit in bourbon before being strained with a cheese cloth, the bourbon has a smokiness more akin to a single barrel scotch than to the sweetness typically associated with bourbon. The Benton Old-Fashioned is one of the most popular drinks at Beasley’s and its more than easy to see why.
The American Trilogy
The next drink I tried was the American Trilogy made with Rye Whiskey, Carriage House Apple Brandy, orange bitters and brown sugar. While this cocktail definitely had a simpler taste profile than the Old-Fashioned, it was smooth and extremely refreshing. And for its smaller size, this drink definitely packs a punch where alcohol content is concerned. I think of all the drinks I tried, this was the one I was feeling the most afterwards.
The Dark + Stormier
Another improvement on a traditional cocktail, the Dark + Stormier takes the average Dark and Stormy to the next level. Made simply with Jalapeno Sorghum Ginger Syrup, lime and Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, this was one of the wildest, most novel drinks I have ever tried. At first sip what really stands out is the lime which is a little tart but refreshing, but what is not expected is the lingering spiciness of the jalapeno infused ginger syrup. The black rum sits at the center of the drink cooling it off, making it a great choice for hot summer days downtown. And in the same way I would recommend an IPA to drink with a meal of hot wings, where the bitterness of the IPA works to offset and compliment the spiciness of the chicken wings, the Dark + Stormier makes the perfect companion for Beasley’s sweet-tasting Chicken and waffles with maple syrup.
While there are more than enough bars in the area to get a simple rum and coke or whiskey sour, if you are looking to really explore southern culture and mixology, Beasley’s is the place to do it. They put real care into their drinks and know what they are doing. If one of the signature cocktails on the menu doesn’t tickle your fancy, and you are feeling adventurous, ask one of the bartenders to make you something new. They will be more than happy to make you something different with moonshine and cucumber or orange if that’s what you like, just remember to be polite, and don’t ask them to invent something crazy if they’re super busy with a full bar. Beasley’s Chicken + Honey is already a local institution for its amazing fried chicken, but it’s always a real joy when a restaurant takes as much pride in its spirits as its food.
Bonus: Beasley’s also offers brunch and if you want to start your morning off right, order the Breakfast of Champions. Bacon-washed bourbon, maple syrup and iced coffee will wake you right up.