Rover Rating: 4 out of 4
If Bram Stoker devised a cocktail spot, this just might be it. Good thing, somehow, despite all the blood-sucking, there's something very sexy about Dracula.
Enter C. Grace or, I hear, just 'Grace' for the peeps that frequent it the dimly lit, red-curtain adorned newest sip spot on the Glo-So scene (next door to Helios, in the old "Trim" space). Wet behind the ears? Maybe. But you'd never know. Grace is lived in. It's got the worn feel. And it's already been deemed as one of the top-three Triangle cocktail lounges (triangle-restaurants.com), alongside Foundation and Crunkleton some pretty 'stiff' competition (and word is the cocktail concept has Matt Bettinger of former Foundation fame calling the shots, so clearly he knows how to build up libation stations both du jour and with staying power).
The thing about Grace is its ambiance. Which isn't something you can fake ... and an obvious trait these 'best-of' lounges have in common. Grace? If nothing else, it's original. Upon entering for the first time, within five paces I said "Why do I feel like I'm suddenly in Moulin Rouge?" And without hearing me, a friend a few paces behind said, "So this is what it might feel like to take one back with Dracula." Both aptly fitting metaphors. Read: sexy. Read: mysterious. Elusive, even. And if you really want to push the metaphors, you should def ensconce yourself in the back room, just past the second of the two bars (first to the right, second to the left), where new associations abound. I think the most obvious is Victorian, England (with the three neatly set up sitting areas anchored by a huge chandelier and set off by antique-y chairs and a chesterfield sofa), but my fave was definitely the frequently dropped Titanic reference. Now only if Leo DiCaprio (or Ewan McGregor for that matter) were to appear...
Bottom line? On a block ensconced with clubs and pubs, this one is distinctive. And arguably just what the neighborhood needed. An adult spot with real cocktails ("Fancy Drinks" price from 8-11 p.m., but you definitely don't break the bank here). A "burlesque inspired speakeasy," it's like what Whiskey is to Durham. What Crunk is to the Hill. What Foundation is doing for Fayetteville Street. True to form? When I asked if they had any flavored vodkas, the bartender mustered an arguably genuine smile to hide the scoff. Which means two things: cocktails the way history intended and friendly bartenders. Now that's worth bellying up to the bar for.