Small bites: Asheville Cocktail Week mixes things up

MIXED COMPANY: Bar professionals from around the country will convene in Western North Carolina for the third annual Asheville Cocktail Week. The revelry begins Sunday, April 29.
MIXED COMPANY: Bar professionals from around the country will convene in Western North Carolina for the third annual Asheville Cocktail Week. The revelry begins Sunday, April 29. Photo by Keely Turner

Collaboration is key at the third annual Asheville Cocktail Week, says organizer Kris Kraft. The weeklong gathering brings together local, national and international talents from the distillery and mixology industries. Along with workshops and seminars, the festival will also feature plenty of dinner pairings and bar takeovers.

“We are collaborating with chefs. We are collaborating with bartenders. We are collaborating with a wide variety of venues,” says Kraft. “It’s a celebration of collaboration.”

The festivities launch Sunday, April 29, with a tiki-themed dinner at Cucina 24 sponsored by Cruzan Rum. That same evening, Jake Skinner of Greensboro restaurant and cocktail lounge 1618 Downtown will host the festival’s first bar takeover at MG Road, sponsored by Beam Suntory.

Throughout the week, additional free and ticketed events will take place throughout Asheville, including Second in Command at Vivian in the River Arts District. The Monday, April 30, dinner will showcase the talents of sous chefs Michael Hartlove of Table, Nick Hane of Cucina 24 and Vivian’s own Pepijn van der Geld. The event, notes Kraft, aims to spotlight less-recognized names within the local culinary scene.

Other Asheville Cocktail Week highlights include a Makers Mark Maturation class hosted by Jane Bowie, a comparative cognac class and food pairing led by Courvoisier national brand ambassador Zahra Bates, the Elixir Craft Cocktail Competition at the Grove Arcade and a Kentucky Derby party sponsored by Beam Suntory at Post 70 Indulgence Bar.

Along with emphasizing the industry’s synergistic nature, Kraft hopes this year’s gathering will raise greater awareness about Asheville’s local chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, a national organization that seeks to empower bartenders through education, service projects and competitions. A meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, April 30, at AC Hotel’s Capella on 9. Members, as well as those interested in membership, are encouraged to attend.

“This chapter really wants to put the message out there that we are career people,” Kraft says. “We have chosen this as a serious career, and we want to be taken seriously.”

As an entity, Kraft adds, “We can pull permits for ourselves so that we can throw charity fundraisers and develop funds that can take care of our bar community.”

Above all, Kraft sees Asheville Cocktail Week as a chance for individuals within the industry to come together. “We never actually get to be on the same side of the bar with one another,” she says. “This gives us an opportunity … to talk about what is working for us, trends we’re seeing and things we can do to better with what’s going on in our world.”

Asheville Cocktail Week runs Sunday-Sunday, April 29-May 6. For a complete list of events, visit carolinacocktailweek.com. For those interested in joining the local chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, contact Kris Kraft at usbgasheville@gmail.com.

Rhubarb celebrates Ashley English’s latest cookbook

Ashley English‘s latest cookbook, Southern from Scratch: Pantry Essentials and Down-Home Recipes, features family recipes along with dishes inspired by her own background in nutrition and sociology, and some plates developed in collaboration with her husband, Glenn. “It’s exciting to see this finished project that is so deeply representative of who I am as a cook at this point in my life,” she says. On Sunday, April 29, Rhubarb will host a special-edition Sunday Supper to celebrate the book’s April 24 release. The menu was not available at press time, but English notes that chef John Fleer will use Southern from Scratch recipes “as a springboard of inspiration.”

The Southern from Scratch cookbook release dinner runs 6-9 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at Rhubarb, 7 S.W. Pack Square. Tickets are $40. For more information, visit avl.mx/4v5.

AUX (On Fire) Guest Chef Series

AUX Bar & Kitchen kicks off its new AUX (On Fire) Guest Chef Series Saturday, April 28, with a late-night menu featuring Portuguese-inspired cuisine by chef David Santos of New York City’s Um Segredo/Good Stock. The series continues the following week, Friday, May 4, with a wood-fired Southern Appalachian menu from chef Mark Rosenstein, former owner of The Market Place, and chef Ricardo Fernandez of Waynesville will focus on the cuisine of his native Argentina for a Saturday, June 16, event. A portion of the May 4 gathering will benefit The Roots Foundation, which helps create edible landscapes and garden-based education for schools. The series will continue through the summer. No reservations are required.

The AUX (On Fire) Guest Chef Series kickoff with David Santos runs 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, April 28, at AUX Bar & Kitchen, 68 N. Lexington Ave. For the full menu and further details about this and future events, visit auxbar.com.

Capella on 9 adds Sunday brunch

Capella on 9, the rooftop bar and restaurant at the downtown AC Hotel Asheville, recently began serving Sunday brunch. Broken egg salad, Lusty Monk mustard deviled eggs, avocado toast, Capella brunch burger and breakfast poutine are a few menu highlights. The cocktail menu includes a Southern spritzer, spiked Arnold Palmer and Peppar bloody mary. Prices are in the $8-$15 range.

Sunday brunch runs 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Capella on 9 in the AC Hotel Asheville at 10 Broadway. For more information, visit avl.mx/4v7.

Congregations host baker/author Stanley Ginsburg

Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Beth Ha Tephila will co-host a Thursday, May 3, speaking event with Stanley Ginsburg, author of The Rye Baker and co-author of Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking. The discussion has been organized as a pre-festival event leading up to the 14th annual Asheville Bread Festival, Friday-Saturday, May 4-5. Ginsburg’s books will be for sale at the event.

 The gathering begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at Congregation Beth Ha Tephila, 43 N. Liberty St. For more information, visit bethhatephila.org

Pete’s Pies closes

Pete’s Pies announced its closing in mid-April. Owner Pete Waissen opened the restaurant on Dec. 6, 2016. The pub offered local and British brews, along with traditional British cuisine. On its Facebook page, the restaurant posted: “We are sorry to announce that Pete’s Pies has closed its doors. Pete would like to thank you all for your friendship and support while we were open.” Waissen was unavailable for comment.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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