Downtown Durham Inc

The Bullpen Social District

The Bullpen is downtown Durham’s social district, which allows people to purchase alcoholic drinks from ABC permittees in a designated cup and walk around outside within a defined area. The Bullpen went into effect on December 1, 2022.

What is a social district? 

In September 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly voted that cities and towns in North Carolina could create their own walkable drinking district with open cups of alcoholic beverages: a social district.  

  • A social district is a defined area in which a person may consume an alcoholic beverage sold by an ABC permittee located within the social district.  
  • A social district may include both indoor and outdoor areas of businesses within a defined area during the days and hours set by the local government.  
  • A social district may include privately owned property, including permittees and non-permittee businesses, and multi-tenant establishments, as well as public streets, crosswalks, or parking areas whether the streets or parking areas are closed to vehicle traffic.

Downtown Durham’s Social District Boundaries

Days and Hours of Operation

The Bullpen operates from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week. 

Participating Merchants

Window clings are displayed at each business to indicate their participation in The Bullpen.

Order Here

Business has an ABC permit and will sell beverages to be taken out to the social district.

Alley Twenty Six

Aloft Durham Downtown



Atomic Clock Brewing Co.

Bar Virgile

Beer Durham

Beyu Caffe

The Blue Note Grill

Brunello Wine Bar

Boricua Soul

Bull City Burger and Brewery

Bull City Ciderworks


Bull McCabe’s

Bullseye Bicycle

Chibanga’s Neighborhood Market

Clouds Brewing

COPA Latin Bistro and Bar

Counting House @ 21c Museum Hotel

The Daily Beer Bar

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles


DPAC (select events)

Dram & Draught


Durham Bulls Athletic Park

Durham Food Hall

Durham Marriott City Center

Durty Bull Brewing Company


The Federal

Fonda Lupita

Fullsteam Brewery

The Glass Jug Beer Lab

Hi-Wire Brewing Company

Honeygirl Meadery

James Joyce Irish Pub

Killer Queen



La Mala Mexican Inspired Cocktails

Liberty & Plenty Distillery

The Living Room

Lonerider Distillery & Taproom

LouElla Wine Beer & Beverage

Luna Rotisserie

Mateo Bar de Tapas

Maverick’s Smokehouse and Taproom

Mellow Mushroom

Mettlesome Theater

Mezcalito Grill & Tequila Bar

Missy Lane’s Assembly Room

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Mother and Sons

M Pocha



Ninth Street Bakery

The Oak House

The Patio at Unscripted Hotel


Pie Pushers

The Pinhook

Plum Southern Kitchen & Bar

Ponysaurus Brewing

Pour Taproom Durham

PRESS Coffee Crepes & Cocktails



Ramblers Beer & Wine

Remedy Room

Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings and Sweets

Rubies on Five Points


The Slush

Spring Rolls

State of Golf

The Studio at Unscripted Hotel

Table South Kitchen + Bar


Tobacco Road Sports Cafe

Torero’s Mexican Restaurant

Urban Axes

The Velvet Hippo


The Waiting Room

Weldon Mills Distillery

West End Wine Bar / West End Billiards

The Wine Feed

Drinks Welcome

Business does not have an ABC permit but WILL ALLOW beverages inside.

5 Points Gallery

Alliance Architecture

Arthur Murray Dance Center of Durham

The Artisan Market at 305

Bull City Records

Carolina Soul Records

Carrie Moore Interior Design

Cecy’s Gallery and Studios

Courage Fitness Durham

Dolly’s Vintage

Downtown Durham, Inc.

The Durham Art Guild

Durham Arts Council

Durham Bottling Co.

EUtopia Design

Golden Belt Artist Studios


Kings Avenue Tattoo


LRC Properties

The Magick Makers

Miel Bon Bons

Mill & Meadow

MODE Consignment Boutique

Mr. Fries Man

Museum of Durham History

Nest Realty

The Parlour

Revel Build Co.

Sherlocks Glass & Dispensary

Sh*t Diana Makes

Simon Says Dip This

Spring Rolls

Temple Studio

Through This Lens

Urban Durham Realty

Vert & Vogue

Visitor Info Center – Discover Durham

The ZEN Succulent

Not Permitted

Business will NOT allow outside beverages inside.

321 Coffee

919 Barbers

City of Durham Buildings

Clarity Piercing

Cloud9 Coiffure

Cocoa Cinnamon

Dogstar Tattoo

Durham County Buildings

Durham County Main Library

Foster Street Coffee

Gavin Christianson Bridal

Gurley’s Pharmacy

Hatch Rockers Immigration

Self-Help Credit Union

Three Kings Tattoo

Urban Ministries of Durham


Businesses not listed here are not participating in the social district. It should be assumed that customers can neither order, nor enter with, a to-go drink at the establishment.

Businesses located within the Bullpen can submit their participation preference here to opt-in or opt-out of the district. 

A business can change its selection at any time by notifying DDI at

City and County Property, Churches, and Schools

It shall be unlawful for any person to possess an open container of malt beverage or unfortified wine on any property owned, occupied, or controlled by the City or County of Durham, including parking facilities, unless that property has been designated by the city or county as eligible for the consumption of alcohol under the rules of the social district and applicable state law. Any city or county properties designated as eligible will display signage accordingly.

Rules & Requirements

Downtown Durham’s Social District Rules

The Bullpen meets the following requirements in accordance with North Carolina law and the City of Durham Ordinance:

  • Alcoholic beverages may be consumed in the social district from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
  • No outside alcohol is permitted within the district.  

  • All alcoholic beverages must be purchased from ABC permitted establishments located within the district and must be consumed within the district. 

  • All alcoholic beverages must be disposed of before leaving the social district. 

  • Upon leaving an establishment where an alcoholic beverage is purchased, the beverage must be consumed and/or the container discarded before entering a different business that serves alcohol, unless entering a business within the social district that allows outside alcoholic beverages to be brought inside the business. 

  • The Bullpen boundary must be clearly defined with signage posted in conspicuous locations by the city. 

  • Alcohol must be sold in designated containers that meet specific requirements, including:  

    • no glass containers 

    • containers include required wording and social district logo 

    • containers are not larger than 16 oz. 

    • ABC permittees can only sell alcohol on their licensed premises, not elsewhere in the social district. 

    • All North Carolina ABC rules and regulations apply. 

ABC Permittee Requirements 

A permittee located and selling alcoholic beverages within the social district must meet the following requirements:

  • Follow all ABC rules and regulations regarding selling alcoholic drinks. 
  • Sell to-go alcoholic beverages during Bullpen hours of operation only (currently 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.) 
  • Sell and serve to-go alcoholic beverages on its licensed premises only. 
  • Sell to-go alcoholic beverages in a container that meets all the cup requirements (see below).
  • Display a Bullpen window cling at all public entrances denoting participation in the social district. 
  • Inform DDI promptly of any change in participation status. 
  • Report any violations of the social district or ABC rules to
  • Complete a quarterly survey so that the managing entity can provide required data to the City of Durham. 
  • Once registered with Downtown Durham, Inc., to participate, the ABC permittee will sign a one-page agreement to these rules above. 

Cup Requirements

The container for all to-go alcoholic beverages must meet all the following requirements:

  • The cup clearly identifies the permittee from which the alcoholic beverage was purchased, and the date and time the beverage was served.  
  • The cup has the Bullpen logo professionally printed on one side. 
  • The cup displays the words: “Drink responsibly. Be 21” in minimum 12-point font. (The Bullpen logo includes these words.) 
  • The cold cup is clear (see through). The hot cup is white. The cups cannot be made of glass. 
  • The cup shall not hold more than 16 fluid ounces (but it may hold less). 
  • Follow all guidelines regarding the use of the Bullpen logo.

Patron Requirements

The possession and consumption of an alcoholic beverage in a social district is subject to all of the following requirements of North Carolina law: 

  • Only alcoholic beverages purchased from an ABC permittee located in the social district may be possessed and consumed.
  • Alcoholic beverages must:
    • only be in designated social district containers. 
    • only be possessed and consumed during the days and hours set by the City of Durham
  • A single patron cannot be sold or delivered alcoholic beverage drinks more than:
    • two alcoholic beverage drinks at one time of a malt beverage, unfortified wine, fortified wine. 
    • one alcoholic beverage at one time if an alcoholic beverage drink is a mixed beverage and contains spirituous liquor. 
  • A person must dispose of any alcoholic beverage before exiting the social district.

Special Events

When a special event held pursuant to the issuance of a special event permit, issued by the City of Durham, the terms of the special event permit supersede the provisions of this article within the boundaries of the special event. Any alcoholic beverages purchased within the boundaries of the special event may not be taken outside the special event boundary, even if the alcoholic beverage is to be taken from the boundary of the special event into the boundary of the social district. 

Downtown special events with an alcohol permit and selling and/or serving alcoholic beverages: Those beverages are NOT allowed to leave the special event boundary, even if the event is located within the Bullpen social district. 

It is the decision of the special event permit holder to choose whether to allow social district beverages to enter the special event boundary. That decision can be made when a person applies for the special event permit with the City of Durham.   


A social district is a defined outdoor area where alcoholic beverages, sold by an establishment licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, may be consumed.

The downtown Durham social district goes into effect on December 1, 2022.

Here is a map of the social district. Signage will be posted at the boundaries. Businesses will indicate on their storefronts with window clings if they are participating or not.

The Bullpen will operate seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

10 p.m. is consistent for when most special events end, and it captures the end of the dinner crowd before the nightlife activity.

Businesses can submit this form to opt-in or opt-out of the social district.

All businesses should display a window cling to indicate whether they have opted in or out of the district.

Downtown Durham, Inc. has created a logo for the social district. Businesses are responsible for ordering and managing their own approved cups. Establishments are required to indicate their business name on a sticker or printed directly on the cup. In addition, businesses must write the date and time the alcoholic beverage is served on each cup.

The City of Durham will install additional trash receptacles along the perimeter of the district, directing patrons to dispose of their cups before exiting. Downtown Durham, Inc.’s Clean & Safe Ambassadors will continue to monitor and keep downtown clean. The City of Durham does not currently recycle plastic cups.

By North Carolina law, a single patron cannot be sold or delivered alcoholic drinks in excess of:

  1. Not more than two alcoholic beverages at one time of a beer or wine.
  2. Not more than one alcoholic beverage at one time if an alcoholic beverage contains liquor.

No. Cups should be disposed of in a proper receptacle prior to exiting the social district. Alcoholic beverages must be sold by an ABC permittee located within the social district. No personal beer, wine or liquor can be brought into the social district. As of now, cups are not to be reused in the social district.

No. Only drinks purchased from qualified participating businesses within the social district are allowed. No cans, glass bottles or outside drinks are permitted within the boundaries.

Patrons can enjoy their beverage in public gathering spaces and downtown plazas, i.e., Five Points, CCB Plaza, Black Wall Street Garden, etc. Many establishments within the social district have outdoor seating options that provide seating for the patrons of their businesses.

No. Participating locations must be a fixed permanent establishment with an ABC permit for on-site consumption as outlined in NCGS 18B-904.1(a).

No. Participating locations must have an ABC permit for on-site consumption as outlined in NCGS 18B-904.1(a). 

All businesses located within the social district have the option to opt-out of the district. Window clings stating the status of each business will be provided to all businesses by DDI.

No. No person shall possess an alcoholic beverage while driving a vehicle, including bicycles and scooters. An open container of any alcoholic beverage is also prohibited in the passenger area of any vehicle per North Carolina law.

Individuals who leave the social district in possession of open alcoholic beverages can be criminally charged with the City of Durham ordinance for open container of alcohol on property owned or controlled by the City of Durham and/or applicable state laws regarding the unlawful possession or consumption of spirituous liquor.

Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) and local Durham law enforcement have jurisdiction over the social district.

You can call the Durham Police Department’s non-emergency number at 919-560-4600. You can also report violations to the Alcohol Law Enforcement Division, Durham County ABC Enforcement and Durham Police Department.

Note: In case of emergency, when an immediate response is needed, call 911 as usual to report the details of the crime you witness.

Additional Questions

If you have other questions about the Bullpen, please email


Tell us what you think about downtown Durham’s social district.

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