The Best and Worst of Raleigh Martinis

Raleigh, North Carolina has been named in the past as one of the fastest growing cities as well as one of the top cities for singles. What do many singles do in the area? Hit the local bars, of course. When I made the move to Raleigh, one of my first endeavors was to find the best places to hang out and have a good drink without breaking myself. I immediately got suggestions for some of the local establishments and decided to give them a try.

My first stop, Bogart’s American Grille, downtown Glenwood Avenue. Jazz music filled the air, people were buzzing, as my friend and I entered around seven o’clock. My first impressions were good ones. The hostess was very friendly, directing us into the bar. We learned from the very amicable bartender that Thursday nights are half price martini night. The service was fast and friendly, but the martinis alone are what make me go back. The Berry Martini is amazing. Its like drinking a smooth fruit juice and getting the kick from straight vodka. And at half price, you may as well have two. They also don a delicious African Queen Martini that is a must have for any coffee and mocha lovers out there. And for those of you who need to accompany your drinks with an appetizer, the spinach artichoke dip is one of the best I’ve tasted. Bogart’s is definately worth the drive downtown and yes, you have to pay for parking, but if you get there before 7 pm, you only have to pay $3 instead of $5. Hey, that savings is half of your martini!

The next stop on my journey was a couple of weeks later at Hi5, also downtown. Unfortunately, I was not nearly as pleased with the service or the cuisine. Our waitress seemed less than pleased that we were there, which obviously set a bad tone from the beginning. We ordered drinks which tasted more like Kool-Aid than Martinis, and after a long wait, were served with less than appetizing appetizers. Four of us sat around the table, somewhat amused at how excited we had been about trying Hi5 after their renovations and re-opening. We were disappointed to say the least and the best thing about the evening was that we had 50% off coupons for the meal. It was not great, but atleast we didn’t feel like we overpaid for the experience. And a learning experience it was.

Another good place to grab a martini is the Bamboo Club at Triangle Town Center. Another killer Berry Martini, not quite as good as Bogart’s but it runs a nice second. The food is absolutely terrific and for the most part the service is prompt and efficient. They also have a nice variety of drinks on their bar menu, so if you are not a martini fan, you can still find something to suit you here. Now, I know this is more or less about martinis, but I have to tell you that the Chocolate Fudge Cake is simply divine.

I think my next trip downtown will consist of starting at Bogart’s martinis and appetizers, moving up to April and George’s for dessert, and then heading down to Red Room to give them a try. Haven’t been there yet, but I hear they are worth the trip.

Any suggestions of places to try? Email me at

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