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The Republic

Posted by MEZ 5 Sep 2011 12 Comments

The Republic is a bar and lounge that always intrigued me when I walked by, but for some reason, I never stepped inside until recently. I think it might be because the space looks really, really dark from the outside, which doesn’t come across as welcoming. But my glimpses of fancy, black armchairs lined up against the walls finally convinced me to try the place out. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the drinks and the friendliness of the employees.

Inside, the club’s walls are either brick or black with lushly patterned wallpaper that could do with more light to show it off.

The bar is lined with red lights. In addition to the row of seating areas on the main floor, there are more toward the back of the club and a much brighter alcove upstairs, behind where a DJ normally plays on the weekends. There are also tables on the street if you’d prefer your drink with easy conversation and no music.

The Republic has a full bar and a cocktail list. I looked askance at the several cocktails made with Red Bull, but if energy drinks are your style, you might enjoy them! I definitely liked the other options on the list. I started out with a Berry Diddy martini.

The drink was an incredibly pretty yellow. It’s made with Ciroc Red Berry vodka, lemon Juice, and simple syrup. It tasted very similar to a lemon drop, but the berry flavor from the vodka cut through the lemon, making for a refreshing combination. It was definitely sweet, so I’d recommend it for a dessert drink.

One of my friends tried the Republic’s Tea made with Firefly sweet tea vodka, Absolut Peach, a splash of sweet and sour, a splash of pineapple, and lemon lime soda.

This one was like a drinking a peach sweet tea, and it was great.

My second libation however, definitely took the cake, or cocktail shaker as the case may be.

The Ooooh La La Martini—made with Crown Royal Black, raspberry liqueur, and pineapple juice—was pretty close to perfect for me because I like my drinks strong with something smooth to help them down. The raspberry seemed too prominent at first sip, but the whiskey mellowed it out nicely. It felt thick in my mouth, like it gained creaminess from the pineapple and the froth from the shaking. I loved it.

All in all, I was very impressed with the cocktails I tried, but the Republic needs to do something to make the ambience more inviting, and I say that as someone who loves black and red. I just can’t put my finger on what it’s missing–maybe a better lighting scheme? Regardless, the bartenders’ friendliness and quality of drink should be enough to keep you there for a round or two.

The Republic
353 W. Main Street
Five Points

Reviewed 2 Aug 11 and 26 Aug 11.


  • Kat said:

    What I also like about The Republic is that this is a no smoking establishment. Really nice atmosphere and drinks and no smoke!


    John replies on September 7th, 2011 at 4:10 pm:

    let me guess, you don’t like the smoke…


    joe duke replies on September 7th, 2011 at 7:07 pm:

    isn’t every establishment no smoking since last year?


    MRS replies on September 8th, 2011 at 11:26 am:

    You can smoke at Whiskey, I think that’s the only place left, could be wrong.


  • Jonn said:

    People just like to take jabs at Whiskey since its the one place in the entire town they can feel like a martyr for having to breathe smoke.


  • Julia said:

    I will definitely have to check out The Republic. I am pretty new to Durham and have been exploring my way though the food/bar scene and loving it!
    author of http://www.hazelnutblog.com


  • Eric said:

    I just can’t put my finger on what it’s missing


    Every time I go by there before 11:00pm it’s dead.

    What impression do you get of a place that has really nice decor, an amazing street front, and is dark and empty? One of two things: it’s too expensive, or it’s pretentious and they don’t want my business.

    It might be neither of these are true, but if people have that impression they won’t be stopping in. These things have a way of self perpetuating. Maybe they need a barker out front enticing people in.


    The Gourmez replies on September 22nd, 2011 at 2:06 pm:

    Actually, I think you’re right. I wonder how they can fix that problem, though. It’s really not pretentious at all inside, and everyone I’ve talked to was super pleasant and nice. The drinks are probably a buck or two too expensive each, but not enough that it would drive me away.


  • Leah D. Gordon said:

    Such a cool upscale sophisticated spot! All this place needs is word of mouth. People who love the ambiance will tell others who would enjoy it also.

    It reminds me of the upscale bar scene you can find in DC.

    This place is definitely on my list of places to take clients.

    Good work!


  • DukeGradStudent said:

    I have a gay friend who wanted to plan a birthday party here. The owners explained to him with a straight face that their fee for a party would be several thousand dollars. The vibe he got was that they were grossly inflating the price because they didn’t want *that* kind of crowd in their establishment.


    Pleased replies on November 21st, 2012 at 8:09 am:

    Funny you say this. I was in on Saturday and that was NOT the case. The hosted birthday party was for a gay man. And it was PACKED and TONS of fun. I totally enjoyed being a party crasher.


  • Chris Murphy said:

    Word is out about The Republic, every second Saturday night of each month.. Grown & Sexy Mayhem :: 2nd Saturday RDU is a exclusive event for the elite party goers and mature professionals in Raleigh/Durham and surrounding cities. This prestigious once a month event is taking place at the Luxurious Republic Bar & Lounge located in Durham NC. This event is hosted by Black Linen Entertainment exclusively known for its superior quality, professionalism and innovative approach to social events. For more info visit http://2ndSaturdayrdu.eventbrite.com


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