Libation Migration: New popup pairs local chefs with bartenders from across the U.S., Canada

ON TOP OF THE WORLD: MG Road bartender Alex Flynn celebrates the Wall Street bar's newest popup concept, Libation Migration, with a cool cocktail and a grand view at the top of Town Mountain. Photo by Michael Files

Monday nights in Asheville are about to take on a cross-country flavor as MG Road cocktail lounge introduces its newest popup concept, Libation Migration, on Monday, Sept. 7.

The series pairs well-known Asheville chefs with bartenders from cities across the U.S. and Canada for a culinary-cocktail road trip. The partnership between MG Road and Bulleit Bourbon will feature cocktails matched with small-plate offerings inspired by the food traditions of each guest bartender’s home city.

MG Road’s Alex Flynn is no stranger to the idea of guest bartending. Having done numerous guest stints behind the bar in other cities and states, he says he finds it to be “a way of sharing ideas, techniques and regional trends in the cocktail industry” that has helped him further his education as a bartender. “It’s a big passion of mine, as I truly believe there’s no faster way to get a feel for a new city and its people than to get behind a bar and sling some cocktails.”

The concept, he says, is a good fit for the Wall Street bar, which is known for staging a constant stream of creative popup dining experiences such as Punk Wok, The Thunderbird, Sausage Party, Girls on Deck and more. And finding bartenders and chefs to participate, he adds, wasn’t that hard.

The community of cocktail bartenders in this country is insanely tight, and there is a sense of camaraderie that is mind-blowing at times,” he says. “Getting the chefs was easy because Asheville’s culinary community is so passionate about what they do. They are all excited to take time out of their busy schedule to be a part of this, and that kind of love of the industry translates directly into the food.”

ROAD TRIP: Local chef Justin Burdett kicks off MG Road's newest popup series, Libation Migration, with a Boston-themed small-plate cocktail pairing on Monday, Sept. 7.
ROAD TRIP: Local chef Justin Burdett kicks off MG Road’s newest popup series, Libation Migration, with a Boston-themed small-plate cocktail pairing on Monday, Sept. 7.

Flynn says he and co-organizer Erin Hawley made a conscious attempt not to just spotlight the high-profile cocktail capitals like New York City, Boston and Montreal — although those and more are represented in the lineup. Also included in the mix are cities like Columbia, S.C., and Omaha, Neb.

“Alongside of choosing some people from larger markets like [New York City], I wanted to include some smaller ones that you don’t hear a lot about in the media,” Flynn explains. “They are a lot like us and deserve some recognition. I also want to learn more about their hometowns and look forward to going myself.”

Chefs on the schedule include Justin Burdett of Local Provisions, Nohe Weir-Villatoro of King James Public House, Chris Hathcock of Gan Shan Station and James Albee of Sovereign Remedies. Burdett leads off on Monday, Sept. 7, paired with bartender Dan Lynch of Sweet Cheeks Q and Tiger Mama in Boston, Mass.  For the debut event, Burdett is planning a Boston-esque menu of chilled clam chowder, warm Boston baked bean salad with country ham, and brown bread and succotash with butter-poached lobster.

Of the edible aspect of this latest MG Road project, Hawley says, “Our food program at MG Road is constantly changing and evolving. We’ve had the opportunity to work with tons of great talent in this city with our numerous pop up food ventures. … Through these fun events we’ve gotten to know lots of amazing chefs in this town and have become known as a hub for chefs to be able to do creative projects in our space. …  As we welcome all of these visiting bartenders to Asheville we’re excited to showcase the culinary talent that our city has to offer alongside that.”

Libation Migration happens 5 p.m. Mondays Sept. 7-Oct. 26 at MG Road, 19 Wall St. 

The lineup of bartenders is as follows:

Sept. 7 — Dan Lynch (Sweet Cheeks and Tiger Mama — Boston)

Sept. 14 — Kat Hunter and Kristian Niemi (Bourbon — Columbia, S.C.)

Sept. 21 — Megan Barnes (Mclellan’s Retreat — Washington, DC)

Sept. 28 — Fabien Maillard (Le Lab – Montreal, Canada)

Oct. 5 — Travis St Germaine (Clover Club — Brooklyn, New York) and Brad Farran (formerly of Clover Club and Death & Co. — New York City)

Oct. 12 — Rebecca Monday (Curio — Columbus, Ohio)

Oct. 19 — Luke Edson (The Berry & Rye — Omaha, Neb.)

Oct. 26 — Miles McQuarrie (Kimball House — Atlanta, Ga.)






Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.