Friday, June 5, 2015

Barhopping in Asheville

I spent Thursday barhopping all over Asheville. It just so happened to be Negroni Week, an international event in which bars feature a variety of Negroni cocktails. Proceeds from sales go to a selected charity that the bar chooses.

A Negroni is basically gin, campari and vermouth. In Asheville 14 bars participated in the celebration, which ends on Sunday with a big free party. In Asheville, Negroni barhoppers get a passport. If participants collect two stamps they get invited to the big party. The bars are all making different variations of the Negroni from sweeter to more bitter to fruity.

In Charlotte, Dogwood, Pint Central, and Rock Salt are participating in Negroni Week. Head over there this weekend and try one.

To be honest, Negroni Week was just a happy coincidence for me in Asheville on Thursday. I really went up to go barhopping with my old friend Larken Egleston. Since he's a liquor rep, I knew he would expose me to bars that I'd never visited in Asheville, and he did.

Me, Larken and his co-worker Heather hit so many spots that I can't remember them all. We started at Sovereign Remedies which has a beautiful large windows and a great meat and cheese tray. I had the No. 27 cocktail, which featured Jack Daniel. Oh, Southern Remedies apparently has a fantastic hangover remedy drink. Thankfully, I didn't need one today.

Next we also stopped at Cucina 24 which had unbelievable tiki drinks. These weren't those garbage pina colada type drinks. They were carefully crafted with mixes of premium liquors, fresh herbs infusion and other stuff. We swung by Top of the Monk, which is tucked away upstairs. The coolest thing there is that when you buy a drink, they give you a key to a P.O. Box style mailbox full of snacks. I had the turkey jerky. The curator, aka bar manager, makes her own energy drink concoctions. She let me sample one. It was delicious too.

We spent the most time at The Imperial Life for their Negronis With Bombay and Botanist. We ate everything on the bar menu. The pigs in a blanket and their meat and cheese plate were the best. Their pork skins are made in-house from locally sourced pigs. We finished the night at Crow & Quill which looks like it should be the setting of a scary Edgar Allen Poe poem. I liked it alot tho. Try the gin and tonic. For real! They make their own tonic. I don't even like gin and tonics, but I would drink theirs. As the bartender said, it's a beautiful drink.

Asheville takes its craft cocktail really, really seriously. Most of the bars we hit make their drinks in beakers, like the kind we used in chemistry. They measure and weigh stuff. The bars look like a grocery store produce section with all types of citrus fruits being muddled, peeled and manipulated for drinks. They really show that making craft cocktails is a work of art. So, if you're looking for a quick roadtrip. Catch the tail end of Negroni Week this weekend.