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Durham Social Club Channels Pre-Prohibition Cocktails in a Quiet, Inviting Environment

By Kelly Church

With a website garnished with plume of fire resembling a volcanic explosion, The Atomic Fern makes a bold first impression. The Durham, NC social club is for adults 21 and over with affordable, pre-prohibition-inspired drinks and a long-list of craft beers, no televised distractions and toned down music, all with the intention of letting members connect with one another without distraction. Owner Kevin Slater says his goal with the club was to offer his community something that didn't exist yet: a quiet place to gather with friends. 

"There weren't any spaces that I knew of where you could go and just hang out with friends without all of those distractions," Slater says. "The bar has become a place for people to have a nice first date or for a group to hang out...we strive to have an open and welcoming space where everyone is welcome." 

The Atomic Fern mostly serves cocktails that Slater calls "pre-prohibition cocktails." That is, he says their cocktails are crafted with more alcohol and less sugary mix-ins. One of their speciality items is a tonic that is made just for The Atomic Farm by a local artisan. There is a wide selection of beers available, with a focus on craft and local brews. At The Atomic Fern, Slater says you won't find anything blue or buttery. 

The primary reason for The Atomic Fern being called a social club, Slater says, is because of how they "feel your experience in the space should be." Additionally, due to state law, The Atomic Fern is required to be a private club because they serve alcohol, but not food. Slater says this isn't a problem for customers, as they can bring their own food or order to The Atomic Fern from nearby restaurants that deliver. 

Memberships aren't designed to be a huge source of revenue for the club. They're available to anyone over the age of 21 and a lifetime membership is a one-time fee of $3. As a member, you're welcome at the club at any time and are allowed one guest with you. The membership form can be found in person at The Atomic Fern or downloaded online. 

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