320 East Chapel Hill St.
$9 to $12 per drink
4 pm to 2 am
(May I take this moment to say
I love a bar that posts a closing time?)
To my disappointment, Alley 26, Durham’s newest upscale bar, is not located in an alley. It takes up actual streetfront property, though I’m sure the alley beside it will be used in nicer weather than we had when I tried it in February. I was pleasantly surprised to find the bar had more than a handful of patrons at 8 pm, mostly young professionals. That’s a good sign for me because I like mid-evening drinking but I hate feeling like the only person in a joint.
The bartenders dress in today’s snazzy bar wear, namely nice vests over black pants and button-up shirts. Jazz plays over the stereo system, but none of that elevator music. Instead, a beautiful jazz lyricist sang loud and clear on the recordings. The vibe is somewhere between an antique saloon and a speakeasy with tables built of medium-colored wood and a row of benches covered by peach cushions that aren’t very comfortable but are somehow perfect because they make you feel like you’re at your cool, alcoholic great-aunt’s house. You know, Aunt Maude’s place.
The Corpse Reviver No. Twenty Six, the bar’s take on the standard concoction, is made with a North Carolinian apple brandy, Lillet rosé, Aperol, lemon, and a brut rosé. It’s a distinctly fruity corpse reviver with a gorgeous color. The citrus elements of the drink are delightful, and the mild bitterness of the Aperol counteracts the nearly peach flavor of the brandy. With light fizz tickling my tongue, I found it an exquisite, vibrant drink.by