The special ingredient in some of Charlotte’s best cocktails may shock you—but it’s delicious

Mushrooms are getting a makeover. From a decadent truffle creation to a Manhattan made with foraged fungi, innovative mixologists are incorporating this unexpected ingredient into some of the city’s best libations.

In The Woods

It should come as no surprise that Heirloom Restaurant, known for its foraged fare and locally-sourced drinks, would be one of the first to offer this earthy addition. Bartender Dexter Dunan “wanted to create a cocktail that was reminiscent of a day hiking in the woods,” says Chef Clark Barlowe. The result? A savory and heady drink featuring Cardinal Barrel-Aged Gin, mushroom-infused Topo Vodka, and mushroom bitters made in house with bolete mushrooms.

Truffle New York Sour

To create this luxurious twist on the traditional New York Sour Dot Dot Dot mixologist and co-owner Stefan Huebner first soaks whole eggs with truffle oil for several days. The whites are then separated out to be mixed with bourbon, orange liqueur, house made sour, and port for a drink that’s as smooth as it is decadent. “I’ve had this trick up my sleeve for many years and wanted to debut it at my very own cocktail bar,” says Huebner. “This cocktail is intended to stretch the boundaries of what a typical cocktail should look and taste like.”

’Room to Grow

“I wanted to put flavors you’d find on a plate into a glass,” says mixologist Larry Suggs of this mushroom-infused Manhattan that he spent weeks creating for Zeppelin. “It took us 20 good tries to get this.” The umami-packed drink features mushrooms foraged from the Pacific Northwest mixed with Japanese whiskey, which is complemented by red wine infused with miso using traditional mulling techniques. Topped with a candied mushroom, it’s a creative concoction that adventurous drinkers have soaked up at the new South End spot.

Featured photo is of Zeppelin’s ‘Room to Grow cocktail. Photo by Eben Adrian Productions