Most people can probably remember the first time they walked into Rosetta’s Kitchen. For me, it was during Bel Chere.
I was probably all of 17 years old, and it was around 1 a.m. There was punk rock blaring for one song, hip hop the next,and then some klezmer music to keep things varied. The walls were covered with murals, posters for bands, protest stickers, petitions to sign. It was packed to the gills and hot as hell; the windows were wide open on the patio to the street below. I ordered the pad thai, which was unlike any pad thai I’d ever had, but is one I have returned for year after year since.
So when Rosetta’s opened its Buchi Bar in partnership with local producers Buchi kombucha, I was intrigued.
I put off my first visit for months, thinking, “It’s just some hippy bar where they put kombucha in everything.” But when I finally went in, it was like that first Rosetta’s experience all over again. This weekend the Buchi Bar celebrates its first anniversary.
“I’d always enjoyed the bar scene but not necessarily consuming drinks as a mom and as someone with various health kicks,” says Rosetta Buan, the restaurant and bar’s founder. “I wanted a place with lowest common denominator things; with things that everyone could enjoy. I wanted a place with the general culture of a bar. I wanted no snobbery around it if you just wanted a PBR and a shot or if you wanted an organic cocktail with no gross stuff in it at all.”
Walking into the Buchi Bar feels a lot like the original restaurant upstairs: funky mismatched chairs, eclectic music, earthy artwork and a general sense of that stereotypical Asheville vibe. And like its counterpart’s food, the Buchi Bar’s drinks are unique riffs on classics, as well as quirky creations from the bar’s manager, Stephanie Callahan.
Callahan, who worked with Ken Klehm (formerly of the Rocket Club and Magnetic Field) to develop the initial cocktail list, artfully blends herbal tonics and tinctures with fresh fruits and vegetable juices.
“I didn’t even know the term craft cocktail when we opened,” says Buan. “I was really lucky to have some great bartenders come in and help create our menu. I really had nothing to contribute to that. The only thing I really contributed to that whole development was giving them the parameters for what we would and wouldn’t use. Half of the menu is nonalcoholic; half of the alcoholic menu has kombucha involved using nutritive tinctures instead of traditional bitters … [These] are all things I really wanted to see us do.”
“Everyone has their own way of thinking about what Rosetta’s is and isn’t,” she adds. “Some people see it as a really punk enclave; some people think we are only a hippy-friendly establishment, and it is sometimes. A lot of the time it is just a matter of what time you show up. Some people are really into the fact that we do a lot of social justice work, some people are just there for the free food, and some people like the fact that we are really transparent … We list what is organic, what is and isn’t local and that kind of thing, and some people just like us because [the food is] warm and salty and they’re hungry.”
Friday, June 19, the Buchi Bar will celebrate its first anniversary with special cocktails and kombucha samples. But perhaps the best reason to darken the door is to experience that same feeling I had the first time I went into Rosetta’s: To see an eclectic mix of Asheville’s finest enjoying wholesome food and drink in a place that always has felt like — and probably always will feel like — the genuine pulse of Asheville.
Rosetta’s Buchi Bar is at 116 N. Lexington Ave. It is celebrating its first anniversary with an evening of music, drink specials and free birthday treats during Downtown After 5 on Friday, June 19.