May 13, 2019
Posted by Laura Gregory • Nightlife Reviews
The latest buzz in Charlotte’s craft cocktail scene is Idlewild, an unassuming, intimate bar in NoDa (located in the Novel NoDa development). From the outside, it’s nothing fancy: a small sign hanging on the brick wall outside indicates the entrance. However, once you step inside you are transported to a cozy space with lush greenery draped around the bars and plush velvet couches (complete with adorable throw pillows) for a more private seating option. Idlewild is a members-only club, but membership only costs $1.00 and allows you to bring up to 3 guests each time.
Idlewild is different than your average cocktail bar, because there is no drink menu. Simply tell the bartender or server your preference (likes and dislikes, flavor preferences, etc.) and the bartenders will concoct a custom cocktail for you. Here’s what I tried at my first visit to Idlewild:
Our server was very attentive and asked helpful follow-up questions to determine what we liked most about cocktails. I relayed that I liked herbaceous, citrus-y drinks with either gin or vodka (not a big dark liquor gal). My date started by listing several standard cocktails that he likes, and the server asked him some follow-up questions to narrow down his choices. Once she had gotten enough information from us, she brought us these:
My drink, pictured left, is called the Water Lily, and involved gin, Cointreau, violetta, and an orange peel. It was strong, cold, and refreshing (it almost tasted like an alcohol Capri Sun, but in the best way possible). My date was presented with the Kentucky Maid (pictured right): bourbon, elderflower, mint, and cucumber. Honestly, his drink might have been better than mine (of course I sampled it, for journalistic purposes).
We were headed to dinner after but took advantage of Idlewild’s food list (they have about 10 items, including a cheese & charcuterie plate and some delicious-looking avocado bruschetta). We ordered a small cheese plate, which included a cheddar blue cheese (to die for), a manchego, local honey and jam, and fruit, along with crunchy bread sticks. It was the perfect amount for two to split.
Overall, the drinks were exciting, the atmosphere was great, and I will definitely be back (and I might ask for the Kentucky Maid).