About a month ago my friend Scott and I were having a drink at BoBo’s when Cliff, the bartender there (and one of my faves in town), let us in on a recent discovery of his. The bar formerly know as Phi Bar, now known as the One Fifty One Bar, has $2 glasses of Cava on Sundays. “And there's a great DJ too," he said. Between the promise of good music and cheap bubbly, I was sold, and we all made plans to meet there the following Sunday to start our week off right.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with One Fifty One, it sits adjacent to the lobby of one of Asheville’s newest boutique hotels, Hotel Indigo, located on Haywood Street about a block from the Civic Center.
The bar, like the rest of the hotel, has a clean, modern look with playful combinations of colors, patterns and textures everywhere. It feels very new — because it is. That, coupled with the occasional guests passing through with luggage in tow creates a fun feeling of having been transported elsewhere, outside of Asheville.
Amidst all this newness, I was pleased to sit at the glossy white bar across from a familiar face — Dan Cook, whom many will remember as a Flying Frog bartender for many years.
I was with a group that’s become a regular Sunday fixture, and Dan promptly laid out champagne flutes all in a row, pouring us the sparkling goodness he knew we’d come for. Cristalino, an inexpensive, easy, crisp and dry Spanish brut Cava, is the bubbly on hand at One Fifty One. Let's face it, there's just something sexy, celebratory and decadent about sparkling wine, whether Champagne, Prosecco or Cava. Add a handful of friends, great ambiance and an attentive bartender, and you have a pretty sweet evening.
But wait, it gets sweeter.
As we were sipping and watching the sun set over the city and mountains through the windows, the DJ was setting up. Now normally I’m Team Vinyl when it comes to DJs, although I have nothing against those who use the digital medium. It's just a personal preference. But this guy was setting up instruments as well as laptops. "This guy" is self-proclaimed "sonic scientist" Ben Hovey, who accompanies original tracks from his laptops with keyboard and — my most favorite — his trumpet. The effect is atmospheric, jazzy, downtempo house-y. We were totally into it.
Two weeks later, we descended on the One Fifty One once again. Cava-filled champagne glasses lined the bar, Ben was already deep into doing his thing, and I wanted to see what else the place had to offer. I was hungry so I ordered food, which was fantastic. I then asked Dan to make me his favorite drink. It turned out to be — luckily — a top-shelf margarita, crafted with a house-made sour mix of lemon and lime juices, along with simple syrup, a combo of Grand Marnier and Cointreau, shaken with a healthy dose of Don Julio Blanco, up, lightly salted rim. Yum.
Other drinks on the menu that I look forward to sampling include an Elderflower Cocktail with St. Germaine, brut Champagne, club soda and fresh lemon twist. And there's the Ragamuffin Toddy, which has Makers Mark, ragamuffin signature hot tea, local honey and fresh lemon.
How fun to have an early-ish, cheap-ish option for your Sunday evening. Just remember not to mix or drink too much. Monday hangovers are never fun. Trust me.
For more information about One Fifty One at Hotel Indigo, visit ashevillehotellodgingdowntown.com.
— Ayana Dusenberry is the marketing manager for WNC magazine and the Asheville Wine and Food Festival, and a proud alumnus of the Mountain Xpress. She can be reached at email@example.com.