Outside the elevator on the 15th floor at the Ritz Carlton, a woman stands at a podium. Unmarked doors blend in with the wall. You ask for the Punch Room, speakeasy style, but the staff will help you find your way in. The rooms are covered with velvet and leather. Through the shades on the windows you can watch the afternoon sun.
The staff will had you an old school punch glass, a complimentary taste of the evening's cocktail to share. I told Bob, the bartender, that I was fond of Gin and asked what he recommended. I suspect it's impossible to go wrong with him behind the bar, but I the cocktails I got seemed perfect.
I had a French 75, refreshing and fun. The Penicillin had gin, ginger, and smoked salt. The flavors were striking, but balanced in a way that will keep you curious down to the last sip. I finished off with a cozy bourbon cocktail, but wished I could have stayed longer for more great drinks.
The punch bowls looked amazing, but were a bit too much at one sitting for a solo tasting. I did notice that the menu has a few non-alcoholic mocktails as well. Having a few friends who don't drink, I appreciated the option.
Prices may be a touch higher than some places you could find in Charlotte, but hell, I think it's worth it. (But steer clear of the 400 dollar cocktail. It's literally $400 and why would you ever mix Louis XIII???) If you're visiting from out of town I'd recommend the bar. The drinks are as good as anything I know from SF or NYC.
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