In Asheville, there are plenty of places to wet your whistle. Brew pubs and wine bars abound. But where do you go when you want a special-occasion drink? Xpress is here to help.
Sazerac’s menu of craft cocktails is something special, especially the “Nine Muses” section, with drinks named after the traditional Greek muses. The Melpomene (the Muse of Tragedy) with tequila, apple ginger and jalapeño is good enough, but the Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, is the best drink in the house, if not the town. It’s gin-based with pineapple, basil, bay leaf, black pepper, bitters and lime — and dangerously delicious. 29 Broadway St. 376-0031 ashevillesazerac.com.
Want to impress your date — and drink like Vincent van Gogh at the same time? Try Zambra’s Absinthe Drip. It’s made with Lucid Absinthe Superieure, sugar and ice-cold water. Simple ingredients, yes, but the bells and whistles come out while the drink is being prepared. Zambra uses a balancier — a funnel-like device that attaches to the edge of the glass and measures out the water drop by drop. Definitely fancier than a drink from a shaker, and a much more endearing offering to your beloved than an ear. 85 W. Walnut St. 232-1060 zambratapas.com.
The chef and owner of Posana Café, Peter Pollay, uses an abundance of fresh, local ingredients, including a regionally made gin that he keeps behind the bar. Though it’s not an all-local drink, we’re partial to the Açaì Blueberry Mojito, a beautifully purple and refreshing mix of rum, mint, açaì blueberry juice, lime juice and soda that fits perfectly with Pollay’s simple yet elegant menu. 1 Biltmore Ave. 505-3969 posanacafe.com.
Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro
Storm Rhum Bar serves a fascinatingly complex drink called the Devil’s Oasis that is an absolute must-try. What do you get when you mix rum, cayenne-infused honey, passionfruit puree and lime? A spicy-sweet beverage with impressive depth for the number of ingredients. Don’t miss this one. 125 S. Lexington Ave. 505-8560 stormrhumbar.com.
Asheville Yacht Club
For those who like an element of danger with their drinks, there’s the Flaming Zombie at the Yacht Club, which, fortunately or not, is more flame than living-dead. It’s hard not to like the Asheville Yacht Club, with its kitschy tiki theme and giant pitchers of tater tots. Throw in huge mugs of liquor and juice on fire, and we’re there. 87 Patton Ave. 255-8454.
The Market Place Restaurant
The Market Place Restaurant is newly refurbished — and boasts a new cocktail menu as well. The Benton’s Bacon Old Fashioned, crafted with Jim Beam infused with the essence of everyone’s favorite meat candy, is superb. 20 Wall St. 252-4162 marketplace-restaurant.com.