Top of the Monk bartender Nikki Anhalt, third from left, competed on Friday, July 18, in the national sidecar competition in New Orleans. In the end, the win went to Aaron Butler, second from left, of Jakewalk in Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Jonathan Ammons

Reports from Tales of the Cocktail: Asheville edged out by Brooklyn, N.Y. in national cocktail competition

On a rainy Friday afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, Asheville’s own Nicole Anhalt came in from the downpour to stake her claim in this year’s Sidecar by Merlet Cocktail Competition. Hosted annually at the country’s largest cocktail conference, Tales of the Cocktail, seven bartenders from across the country competed for a trip to the Merlet […]

Top of the Monk bartender Nicole Anhalt is competing in Merlet's sidecar cocktail competition at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Top of the Monk

Reports from Tales of the Cocktail: Asheville bartender competes in national sidecar competition

  Once a year, in the muggy heat of July, thousands of bartenders flock to New Orleans for the largest cocktail conference of the year, Tales of the Cocktail. It is estimated that this year 22,000 of the world’s finest craft cocktail nerds — including a healthy contingent from Asheville’s bar scene — have either […]

OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD: Sunil Patel, left, and William Dissen, right, at Patchwork Farms' Pearson plot in Montford. The farmer and chef are both working to improve the local farm-to-table system. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Is farm-to-table working?

Farm-to-table agriculture has gone mainstream, but does it work as a sustainable model? Some local farmers and restaurateurs aren’t sure, even as they persist in trying. “Any good farming system has all the components of an actual ecosystem,” says Sunil Patel, who runs Urban Patchwork Farms, a progressive farming venture that seeks to develop inner-city […]

The Beer Camp Across America 12-pack features some of the country's best brewers, from Bell's and Russian River to New Glarus and Ballast Point.

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp 12-packs land in Asheville

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you already know all about Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America. In short, the brewery has invited every craft brewer in the nation to a massive road trip across the United States. They’re starting in Chico, Calif., the site of the original Sierra Nevada brewery, on Friday, July 18, and ending in Mills River where the new facility is slated to come online on Sunday, Aug. 3.

TO A TEA: Barista Nathan Lily makes the chai at Tod's Tasties from scratch. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Chai love: Asheville embraces India’s ancient healing drink

When ordering a chai in the Western world, a customer may receive any number of concoctions. A simple black tea with spices is one possibility, but it is significantly more likely that the beverage will be prepared with a powdered mix of sugar and corn syrup solids, with tea nowhere to be seen on the ingredient list. Fortunately for Asheville residents, local businesses are taking the making of chai back to the basics.

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Driving sales: Mobile businesses roll into WNC

by Alli Marshall, Rich Rennicks and Gina Smith —

Food trucks are a known entity: Those mobile dispensaries of cheap, tasty meals drove into downtown Asheville (and our hearts) in 2011. And with revised city ordinances, a dedicated lot on Coxe Avenue and regular appearances at local festivals and music venues, food trucks have only increased in number. But sandwiches aren’t the only thing that can fit into a truck.