Uptown Charlotte’s French brasserie, La Belle Helene has quickly become known for its food and its decidedly un-Charlotte interior. But once you’re inside, it’s that mile-long bar—and the libations it produces—that’ll stick with you. One of our favorites so far, the French American Parade, doesn’t do anything particularly new, but it does pour a tried-and-true combination with flair.
St. Germain is one of my favorite liquors, and that’s really the only reason I’m okay with the elderflowery stuff it making its way into the holiest of cocktail recipes. These days, the so-called “Elder Fashioned” seems to be nearing classic drink status itself, and for good reason. La Belle Helene’s rendition starts with the classic St. Germain and bourbon base, but trades out the angostura for a pepper and genmaicha syrup. Lemongrass and lemon replace the usual citrus. Top that off with the requisite soda water and a garnish of color-shifting dried hibiscus, and you’ve got one of the prettiest spins on the drink I’ve seen.