Right behind Venable Rotisserie Bistro, tucked away from the hipster dive bars and the multitude of watering holes designed for college students, is B-Side Lounge. Since its opening in 2014, B-Side has been serving up small plates and unique craft cocktails alongside a rotating wine and beer selection in a dimly lit lounge-style bar.
“The space is very nice; it’s very intimate,” said Cassady Orsini, the front of the house manager at B-Side Lounge and Venable Rotisserie Bistro. “The décor really spiced up that space. It was just a brick square when we got it, and we put a lot of time and money into making it pleasant to be in.”
Along with their extensive small plate and dessert options, B-Side has rotating beer and wine, both by the bottle and on tap, and a carefully crafted signature cocktail list that uses locally sourced ingredients and spirits from local distilleries. These offerings, particularly the wine on tap and barrel-aged cocktails, make B-Side Lounge unique.
“We have wine on tap, which a lot of places in the area don’t have, which is really cool,” said Orsini. “We try and get all North Carolina beer and cider, and we have a really good cocktail team. The management staff works together to come up with recipe ideas, we troubleshoot, try them out and see how good they are.”
Among the signature cocktails are the three barrel-aged cocktails mixed and placed in small barrels that sit on the bar and are left to age for weeks, or months, at a time.
“Depending on the cocktail, once it’s thrown in a barrel it can bring out hidden flavors,” said Orsini. “The one we started with, our first barrel-aged cocktail, is the Kentucky Bend. That has Knob Creek bourbon, Campari and white sweet vermouth. We barrel it for at least a month. We don’t take it out, we let it sit and serve it from the barrel so you can come in the day we start selling it and come three months later and if it’s the same batch it could be a drastically different flavor.”
There’s a level of care and love that goes into creating the cocktail list. Using quality ingredients that are locally sourced is an important concept, along with keeping the list fresh by continually creating new recipes.
“We change our cocktail menu usually every three or four months. We’re actually in the phase of changing them right now,” said Orsini. “It’s time for a seasonal change for food, and that’s the best time for us to also change the cocktails. We hammered out 13 new cocktails that will go on the menu after Mother’s Day.”