Bourbon, beer bars join downtown milieu

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Dogwood Hops and Crops, adjacent to the Trophy Room, is a beer and wine bar that’s the Dr. Jekyll to Trophy Room’s Mr. Hyde. (photo by Kat Bodrie)

Why anyone would go to a bourbon bar and order a martini, I just don’t know.

But if bourbon isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other choices — including a martini — at the Trophy Room in downtown Winston-Salem.

Across from the Millennium Center and practically neighbors with Crafted: Art of the Taco, the Trophy Room set up shop on Liberty Street last month, drawing a crowd eager to experience the city’s first bar dedicated to one particular liquor.

Decidedly unlike 913 Whiskey Bar in Greensboro, it’s a marriage of speakeasy and hunting lodge, as the deer head with gold antlers immediately indicates. Other details bring the outside in, including large, brown leaves under the clear veneer of the bar, as well as the wood dominating the space, from the floors to the beautiful cabinetry behind the bar.

It all has a cozy, open feel, great for kicking back with friends and family, especially after a long day after work.

Bourbon and rye whiskeys run the gamut from Maker’s Mark to Jefferson’s. I was particularly taken by the availability of Angel’s Envy and Filibuster. If you’re looking for Jack, you’ll find a few upscale single-barrel options.

The cocktail menu doesn’t disappoint, either. I tried a Moscow mule called the Texas Sweetheart, with Maker’s Mark and a jalapeño kick. My co-worker Herb Everett — husband of News & Record columnist Susan Ladd — went with the Rita Ballou: a double layer of rye and mezcal, with burnt orange peel and brandied cherry juice. Next time, I’ll have to try the Kentucky Brunch — Evan Williams, peach puree, lemonade, and champagne — whose description reads, “Served best with a cigarette and reckless behavior.”

Visit the Trophy Room and Dogwood Hops and Crops at 517 N. Liberty St. (W-S) or find it on Facebook.

It’s hard not to be taken by the sheer number of bottles on the shelves, and I was surprised a ladder wasn’t easily accessible to bartenders. There’s run-of-the-millwares like Tito’s and North Carolina-made stuff like Kill Devil rum. When a bartender pulled out Don Julio 1942 tequila, our corner of the bar held its collective breath at the elegance of the tall — and pricey — bottle.

If that alone doesn’t make this place upscale, take a look at what’s behind the wire netting on either side of the bar. A brass placard denotes each locker’s owner; the cost of the locker is the price of a bottle by number of shots.

Next door, Dogwood Hops and Crops is the Dr. Jekyll to Trophy Room’s Mr. Hyde. It’s lighter, with a garage door in front and a giant “Dogwood” sign lit up over the bar. There are a few beer taps, several coolers of cans and bottles, lots of wine options and a rotating panini menu. Both bars are owned by Joey Hurdel, Austin Ridge, who also manages Dogwood, and Adam Andrews, who runs restaurants Jeffrey Adams and the Old Fourth Street Filling Station.

More munchie options are on the way, but I’d like to see more craft on draft. The corkage fees for beer and wine were puzzling at first, but Andrews explained, “We sell at retail price with a fee for drinking it here instead of taking a percentage off if you take it home.”

Growlers don’t have an extra charge besides the price of three pints, and an app for growler delivery service should roll out the first week of August.

If only they’d deliver bourbon to my house, too.