It’s a week night at Decades, and the husband-and-wife house band, Southern Silk, are proving as smooth as their name, announcing Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together” triumphantly as “our love song.” They hit all the notes just right—“Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad”—and rich electric-guitar riffs roll over the room.
Decades is a newcomer on the Asheville bar scene, taking the place of the now-defunct Whiskey Tavern. It’s a prime spot, and the cavernous space has been converted into a bar of the sort rarely seen in this city. The live music is oft-present but not intrusive, and while Decades doesn’t skimp on the wide-open spaces, there are also plenty of nooks and crannies for conversations or other pleasures.
The cocktails are both refreshing and unique. It’s possible to have at least three strong drinks that taste unlike anything else in town. From somewhere, Decades managed to dig up Domaine de Canton, which gives its name to the deliciously stimulating Canton Ginger cooler.
The portions are substantial as well: This is one of the only places I’ve seen that serves cocktails in frosted pint glasses. While the price ($9) is on Asheville’s higher end, you’re getting more bang for your buck.
Decades has also gotten into the rarely entered field of beer cocktails with the Rattler, a wheat beer combined with triple sec and orange. The flavors complement each other better than one might expect, and the bars’ pursuits in this area should be encouraged. Because the bartender indicated that the Rattler is rarely ordered, I would suggest that those in favor of more weird, wonderful drinks go out and try one tonight.
Even the bar’s variation on the venerable Long Island Ice Tea is something new, adding blue curacao and a slew of other ingredients for a strange-looking brew that packs the punch of the original with an entirely different taste (and one that’s not as sweet as one might think).
There’s plenty of food as well, as Decades doubles as a restaurant. The fried mushrooms are excellent, using more spice in the breading than some might be accustomed to. They go perfectly well with the frosted glasses and refreshing drinks. This isn’t a place that’s easy to categorize: In drink, food and decor, Decades seems to delight in unexpected hybrids.
Decades is located at 22 Woodfin St. Call 254-0555 for more information. Smoking after 10 p.m.