Peccadillo bar thrives on secrecy

If you walk down Brewer Lane looking for Peccadillo, you might not find it.

There’s no sign out front; the only indication of the bar’s location is “100A” spray-painted on an old steel door in the same complex as the Carolina Car Wash & Detail.

Bartender Michael Cochran prepares a Josh & Sarah cocktail at Peccadillo, located at 100a Brewer Lane in Carrboro. Josh & Sarah is the most popular drink served at the bar.  (Staff photo by Alex Dixon)
Bartender Michael Cochran prepares a Negroni cocktail at Peccadillo, located at 100a Brewer Lane in Carrboro.  (Staff photo by Alex Dixon)

But owner Tim Neill, 41, wants it to be this way.

“The building’s façade is not beautiful, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Neill says. “It makes crossing the threshold into the bar an experience I thought people would enjoy and talk about.”

The bar space, located at 100A Brewer Lane, is relatively small but open, with large community tables. The lighting is dim with candles lining the wooden bar.

John Parker, bartender at Watts Grocery in Durham, sits with several coworkers and friends at one of the community tables on a Monday night. He says he admires the simplicity of the menu.

The bar menu is divided up into categories with a focus on classic cocktails: Daiquiris, Martinis, Manhattans, and Negronis. There’s also a selection of bottled beer and wine along with meat and cheese.

A customer orders a Negroni at the bar. Bartender Michael Cochran, after mixing the vermouth, gin and bitters, takes orange peel, lights it on fire and rubs it around the rim of the glass before dropping it in. He’s wearing what resembles a white lab coat and in addition to the assortment of liquors behind the bar, there are chemistry beakers.

Neill says the most popular drink is the Josh & Sarah: Becherovka (herbal bitters), fresh ginger, a lime wedge and tonic water.

Cochran says that instead of buying popular beers seen at many of the bars in the area, bar manager Dean James gets the lesser-known beer that vendors may not want.

“We try to find the beer that falls through the cracks,” Cochran says. “And people make the effort to find this place. We don’t want to just have Corona and Budweiser.”

Cochran says one of his favorite drinks on the menu is the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a sour beer from Belgium. After seeing the success of some of the rare beers on the menu, Cochran says bottle shops in the area start eventually selling them too.

“It’s nice when I want to go home and have one,” Cochran says.

Peccadillo opened in December 2011. Neill says the bar’s success is owed to the quality of products served. He owns a similar bar in Durham called Bar Lusconi.

The business relies predominantly on word of mouth, Neill says. No Facebook or Twitter promotion. Peccadillo’s website lists only the phone number, email address, hours and address.

Originally from Australia, Neill has been working in bars on-and-off since he was 18 years old. He says the process of hiring bartenders is long and arduous.

Cochran laughs as he recounts his experience training to be a bartender at Peccadillo.

“Tim’s smart. He knows what he wants, but he’s not always nice.”

Edited by: Stephanie Zimmerman and Katie Marriner 

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Author of the article

Alex is Co-Editor of the Carrboro Commons and a journalism student at UNC-Chapel Hill.