In the past, the bar scene in Asheville never was known for its plethora of smoking hot cocktail options, but fortunately the past is just that. Downtown Asheville is experiencing a minor cocktail revolution occurring right before our eyes.
The frenzy surrounding Asheville’s craft and microbrew beer scene is evident everywhere you go, so perhaps the good bartenders of our fair city have taken it upon themselves to take a stand and say: “Cocktails, too!”
In honor of what might be a really great—or a really bad—idea, depending on how much it requires us to drink and write in a single sitting, we would like to initiate our boozehound column: Amuse Booze.
Amuse Booze is that sweet little spot right after work that whets your appetite for easing into evening, when you can sit and take a moment to let go of the stress from the day. Forget your work woes, don’t check email, and postpone paying those bills.
Join us for a cocktail before dinner. Let’s chat, relax, and get to know one another. It is the Asheville way, after all.
The Asheville Post
Limones (12 Eagle Street, 828.252.2327): Margarita Caliente
Margarita Caliente: Pepe Lopez tequila, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, a hint of berry and habañero, and a salt rim on the rocks.
Nothing goes better with spicy Latin food than a fresh, cold margarita. Limones offers an amazing list of decadent margaritas, and the Margarita Caliente is just the thing for spice lovers. The berry mix helps balance the spice of the habanero that starts small and blooms more fully through the rest of the drink, and it gives it a full body taste. It’s a sweet-and-spicy combination that makes it easy to have another.
Posana Cafe (1 Biltmore Avenue, 828.505.3969): The Zen-tini
Zen-tini: Lemongrass-infused organic vodka, ginger agave, ginger, and lime juice, shaken and chilled.
You can walk in to Posana on any given day and see a new list of cocktails that use the best, freshest local ingredients, locally distilled liquor, and made-from-scratch syrups and mixes. One of the staples is the Zen-tini, a ginger-spicy sip sent from heaven. In this connotation, spicy describes the Zen-tini’s natural ginger spice, rather than a pepper-type of spice like most of the other drinks on this list, so this is certainly the most approachable.
It’s the house-made ginger agave that helps put this drink on the map. You can literally taste how fresh it is. The drink is not sweet—not at all—but the lime juice gives the ginger spice a lovely balance that takes it far away from being bitter. In fact, it is that pleasant pucker at the back of the tongue that makes the memory of this cocktail last.
MG Road (19 Wall Street, 828.254.4363): Diablo Nimbu Pani
Diablo Nimbu Pani: Fresh lime juice, muddled serrano peppers, tequila, simple syrup, and a splash of soda on the rocks.
Spice lovers, may I have your attention please: Holy spicy! It goes to reason that the spinoff of a favorite local Indian restaurant would have a few spicy tricks up its sleeve, but this is a challenge to all who believe they can handle the spice. This drink is hot with a capital Spice, so approach cautiously.
The Diablo Nimbu Pani is a successful taste of sour and spicy, balanced with just enough simple syrup to avoid sour lemon face without being anywhere in the neighborhood of sweet. It is delicious, and we suggest stirring occasionally to keep the pepper oil well-dispersed and even with every fiery sip.
The Green Card: Pineapple juice, lime juice, gin, and green chutney on the rocks.
This is an interesting little cocktail that the fabulous bartenders whipped up on the spot. The Green Card is a spicy-savory blend that would complement anything on MG Road’s food menu beautifully. It isn’t nearly the spice bomb that the Diablo Nimbu Pani serves up; instead, it has a nice spicy warmth balanced by the lime and pineapple juice that keep it light.
You can probably guess what ingredient makes this drink special: green chutney. It’s a special blend by the minds behind Chai Pani and MG Road that is customized for cocktails. Not only is it a phenomenally original addition to the cocktail’s flavor, it gives the drink a gorgeous green color that makes it feel almost healthy to drink. So drink up.
Sazerac (29 Broadway Street, 828.376,0031): Melpomene
Melpomene: Tequila, apple, ginger, lemon, and jalapeño on the rocks.
The Melpomene, wisely, is a choose-your-own-spice adventure. The jalapeño is perched on the side as a garnish, so you can approach this refreshing drink as boldly as you want. Leave the pepper out, and you still have a lovely spice warmth that is complemented with the apple. Add it in for any amount of time to steadily build that warmth. One word of caution: The jalapeño continues to imbue the drink, so the less there is, the faster the spice builds. For a real spice connoisseur, leaving the jalapeño garnish in will not take the drink over the top, but it will leave you with a lasting tingle.