Small Bites: Vinnie’s steps up its bar game

New Heights: Mixologist Noah Hermanson has brightened up Vinnie’s cocktail menu. photo by Max Cooper
New Heights: Mixologist Noah Hermanson has brightened up Vinnie’s cocktail menu. photo by Max Cooper

Many Asheville restaurants are ratcheting up their cocktail menus. It may seem natural that restaurants such as Table, the Magnetic Field and the Junction — venues that focus on seasonal, eclectic and ever-changing fare — would have mad scientists behind the bar house-carbonating cocktails and making fancy cordials and bitters. Vinnie's Neighborhood Italian restaurant on Merrimon is now getting into the modern mixology game as well.

Noah Hermanson, Vinnie's new mixologist, is taking the menu to new heights without going too far into left field. Hermanson is toying with four new housemade sodas, including an interesting in-house tonic and a cola that goes into a classic Cuba Libre. A Bee's Knees combines gin or vodka with honey-lemon soda (which would make a fine summer virgin drink on its own). But the scene-stealer of that menu is the Dark and Stormy, a concoction of Cruzan Black Strap rum (which, as its name suggests, screams molasses) lime and a spicy housemade ginger beer.

Hermanson has also come up with a selection of "bangers," cocktails mixed with housemade marmalade, including a variation on an old fashioned and another that incorporates çachaca, Grand Marnier and lime.

Oh, and we recommend you make sure to check out the special pie of the day while you're there. If it's anything like the gorgonzola, arugula and pear pizza we had, you won't be disappointed.

Vinnie’s neighborhood Italian is located at 641 Merrimon Ave. For more information, visit http://www.vinniesitalian.com. —Mackensy Lunsford

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