Greg Barbera

Thirsty Thursday: Smilin’ Spelunker

Do you seek out adventure, or perhaps fancy yourself an explorer? There’s a cave you can visit that presents all sorts of interesting and adventurous opportunities, and it’s right here in town. Well, technically it’s the Cavern Tavern, but most locals affectionately refer to it as just “The Cave.” The Cavern Tavern is the oldest bar in Chapel Hill, and customers learn quickly just how this legendary watering hole got its name. After descending a steep flight of stairs straight off the Franklin Street sidewalk and through a door, patrons encounter a dark, pleasantly dank space that smells of...

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Thirsty Thursday: Prosecco

What was once the location of Fleet Street in Carr Mill Mall is now home to Venable Rotisserie Bistro. Venable has been there since 2012, serving up locally-sourced “elevated comfort food.” It’s a spacious spot, the large interior making it seem almost exquisitely Spartan. The old mill exterior appearance and interior remnants give Venable a certain je ne sais quoi that feels right at home in Carrboro. If you are seated next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll get to enjoy people-watching during your meal, thanks to foot traffic along Weaver Street. The everyday menu is full of bistro-style snacks,...

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Thirsty Thursday: Carrboro Beverage Company

You’re doing a crossword puzzle. 10 letters, across, first letter “b” seventh letter “s.” The clue is “Where you can have a pint of draft beer while browsing a wide selection on shelves.” The answer, of course, is your friendly neighborhood bottle shop, and it’s an idea that’s been trending upwards in the craft beer world for quite some time, with no signs of slowing down soon. Carrboro Beverage Co. is one such a place. A stealthy retreat for craft beer lovers, the place isn’t exactly what you’d call spacious. But this building boasts a bevy of bottles –...

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Thirsty Thursday: TOPO

Top of the Hill Brewery has been a local institution since it opened in 1996. With an excellent location on the corner of Franklin St. and Columbia in the heart of Chapel Hill, and boasting proud ownership by UNC alum Scott Maitland, TOPO has been a mainstay for UNC students for decades. These days, TOPO is a triple threat with a restaurant that features an event space and a back bar that houses a cask-conditioned ale system. More recently, the business added distillery to its name and now produces organic spirits. With so much to choose from, I kept...

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Fall Beer is Here: Oktoberfest

When the weather cools, the humidity subsides and the leaves start to change, it can only mean one thing is about to happen: Oktoberfest.  There’s a lot of misnomers about Oktoberfest.  The first is that it actually starts in September. The second is that it is more than just about beer. Rather it is more like our own State Fair: there’s games, amusement rides and yes, lots of food.  Oktoberfest has been the cornerstone of Bavarian culture since the 1800s and is based on celebrating German culture. These days, Oktoberfest events are a global phenomenon held in just about...

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Thirsty Thursday: Margaritas at Babalu!

When you think of a Mexican restaurant, you inevitably think of chips, salsa and margaritas. They’re three essential things to do well, benchmarks of the establishment you’re at. So, when I’m thinking of hitting a taco joint, I seek out house-made chips, fresh salsas and scan the cocktail menu to see what kind of spin they’ve put on a classic cocktail.  With access to more information than ever and actively seeking new experiences, today’s customers are discerning ones. The ol’ premixed, margarita-in-a-jug, frozen slushie variation no longer cuts the proverbial mustard. To keep pace with changing tastes and changing...

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Thirsty Thursday: Carolina Brewery

Craft beer might be everywhere you look these days, but there was a time not too long ago where trying to find a local brewery in the area – much less in town – was a challenge. The Carolina Brewery, a staple on West Franklin Street for many years, opened its doors in 1995. The brewery was producing local beer long before “craft” was the word you almost always expected to hear before “beer.” Independent breweries are being bought up at a breakneck speed, sending ripples through the industry. Although Carolina Brewery has extended its reach past state lines...

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Thirsty Thursday: Bitter Southerner No. 8

When Gary Crunkleton opened his namesake bar, The Crunkleton, in 2006, terms like “mixologist” and “craft cocktails” were not part of the cultural lexicon. He had some educating to do, and educate he did. Over a decade later, The Crunkleton has garnered press in Southern Living as well as Garden & Gun magazine as one of the best bars in the South. While the bar stocks an arsenal of liquor – accessed by your bartender via a sliding ladder – bourbon is king here. It is like a speakeasy housed in a library. Dark shadows dominate, and books on booze...

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Thirsty Thursday: Rosé

It’s not quite white and it’s not exactly red. It’s rosé, the subject of today’s Thirsty Thursday. When it comes to drinking wine in the summertime, your best bet is a rosé. It’s ability to be paired with anything from cheese and charcuterie plates to seafood and poultry makes it a versatile wine, and the easy drinking nature of rosé makes for a good aperitif. This wine wasn’t always the le grande dame of the ball, however. Rosé was, for a long time, seen as the illegitimate stepchild of white zinfandel. But zinfandel is much sweeter and closer to...

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Thirsty Thursday: Flying Cloud

Two main ingredients often associated with craft cocktails in the summer are cucumber and mint, which is precisely what you’ll find in the “Flying Cloud,” a cocktail now being served at OCSC in Carrboro. Cucumbers have a subtle flavor profile and are known for clean, crisp, and cleansing properties. It’s easy for this particular vegetable to fade into the background, but a well-made mixed drink will allow them to shine through and remind you there’s cukes in your drinks. Unlike cucumber, which is almost senseless to the nose, you can smell mint a mile away. This herb can add...

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