Asheville City Guide: Where to Savor a Craft Cocktail (or two)
Alright, so we're "Beer City USA," but I'm starting the beverage train with my go-to cocktail bars in Asheville. Why? Well, because sometimes I just like to be unpredictable. Also, Fall leaves + sunsets + craft cocktails is a superbly winning combination. Promise I'll get to the beer, and you won't be disappointed. But, for now, pull up an industrial chic bar stool and settle in for some of the best places to grab a cocktail in Asheville, NC. Cheers!
Top of the Monk is my absolute favorite cocktail bar in Asheville, or anywhere, probably. Reason 1? It’s considered a private club so you have to be a member to get in (memberships are a dollar, people, it’s not like it’s a big deal), and they only allow 35 people in at a time (or 25? I can't remember but def not more than 35). That’s right, at all times, there are max 35 people inside this bar. PEACE and QUIET while you enjoy your beverage. Reason 2? All drinks come with snacks. For real, snacks. With every cocktail purchase, you receive a tiny little key. This key unlocks a tiny little mailbox-type thing that has a snack in it! Amazing. Also, they have a nice little rooftop deck. Now, since they only allow a limited number of patrons at a time, there’s often a wait (for those who even know TOFM is there), but trust me - it’s worth it. Located next to Thirsty Monk downtown on Patton Ave.
what to order - Their cocktail menu changes often, but they’ll make almost anything you can imagine if they have the fresh ingredients on hand - the liquor list is extensive. My favorite cocktail that I’ve only ever seen on the menu once is the Punch Romaine. Sounds weird, but there’s a raw egg white in it as well as champagne and other deliciousness. It was once served on the Titanic - can you tell I’m obsessed with this place?
The first time I ever visited The Southern was for a post-ballet drink two Decembers ago. Hobbs had surprised me with a trip to the Nutcracker (he’s too good to me, I swear), and the night was still young so we grabbed “warm cocktails” from The Southern (located right downtown on Lexington Ave). They’re apparently also known for their food, but my Irish Coffee was so good, that it has to be on my cocktails list. It was also comedy night the night we went, and though we sat in the other room, the ambiance was still very much light-hearted and romantic. We went during the week (I think it was a Wednesday), but I hear it gets pretty rowdy on weekends.
what to order - Their Bloody Mary has apparently been voted the best in WNC, so that sounds like a safe bet. Grab one on the patio if the weather is nice. If you’re into hot beverages, I’d recommend the Irish Coffee or BFK.
Imperial is a perfect after-work watering hole. Their local fare make for delicious happy hour snacks, and the second-floor loft atmosphere is “imaginative and intimate,” to quote their website. Meet friends here for a drink before dinner at Table (don’t worry, I’ll get to this in the dinner section - YUM), or do a cozy date night here. Their cocktail menu changes seasonally - as all the best cocktails bar menus do, and their food offerings range from artisan cheeses and charcuterie to market salads. Also, they have live music (usually jazz) on Thursdays as well as a DJ on the weekends. Located right in the heart of downtown.
what to order - Diego’s Lament or Lion’s Tail
Hobbs and I actually went here for the first time last weekend, and then when a friend came into town unexpectedly this past week, we went again. I seriously love the atmosphere of Sovereign Remedies. It’s cozy and inviting yet upscale and historical. They have these huge windows and rafters above that make you feel like you’re in an old warehouse in downtown Manhattan. Couches are sprinkled about as well as an upstairs lounge area with armchairs, layered rugs, and a balcony to look over the rest of the bar. The bartenders really know what they’re doing (and they aren’t bad to look at, either ;)). They have an extensive liquor list, but just tell the bartender what you usually like to drink, and he’ll mix up anything you can think of. Like the rest on this list, located downtown, behind The Windsor Boutique Hotel Broadway St.
The NY Times recently wrote up SR in their most recent 36 Hours in Asheville article, so it’s been getting a lot of buzz lately. Personally, I’m a fan of our little mountain town getting attention - it’s a cool town and as Hobbs puts it “what’s the point of having something great if there’s no one to share it with?” - but, I know some of my local friends struggle with losing special spots like SR when a big publication comes in and shares it with the world. All this to say - you’ll find locals and visitors alike in Sovereign Remedies so it might be a little crowded on the weekends.
what to order - the Root Daiquiri or the Kentucky Greyhound
The Montford Rooftop Bar
(honestly, this would've probably been more prominent on the list, but I haven't been yet! Fingers crossed I can convince Hobbs to go tonight.)
Moral of the story: Brunch is best in West Asheville; cocktails are best downtown.
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