What’s new in food: A cocktail collaboration comes to Asheville

UP ON THE ROOF: Chemist Spirits founder Debbie Word sits on the roof with the bar’s American Gin & Tonic. Photo by Andy Hall

Fever-Tree, the United Kingdom-based maker of tonics and cocktail mixers, opened a new collaboration with Asheville-based Chemist Spirits this past month.

Fever-Tree Botanic Bar at Chemist adds another rooftop experience to the South Slope. Guests can imbibe al fresco at Fever-Tree’s first permanent bar in the United States, sitting atop the three stories of the 5-year-old distillery.

Chemist founder Debbie Word says the partnership has been years in the making. The bar has been using Fever-Tree products since opening, but Word approached the international company about a bar collaboration after seeing pop-ups it executed in New York and Las Vegas. “We approached Fever-Tree with the idea of creating an Asheville botanical bar, inspired by their unique botanicals and a desire to bring people closer to the process and ingredients used,” she says.

The drinks-only space has offerings such as the Rosy Revelry, described as a “floral cream soda” with Fever-Tree Sicilian Lemonade; Chemist Rose Gin, with rose-infused vanilla and spring petals; and the American Gin and Tonic, with Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic, Chemist American Gin, lime peel and rose petals.

“The inspiration behind [the bar] lies in creating a haven that showcases the beauty of Asheville’s botanical wonders and our unique craft process,” says Word. “We can’t wait to … share this extraordinary experience with our beloved community.”

The bar is open Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 4-11 p.m., and Sundays, 3-9 p.m. Although food is not served on the rooftop, small bites are offered at the distillery’s bar on the bottom floor, Antidote.

Fever-Tree Rooftop Botanical Bar is at 151 Coxe Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/cpg.

Dipped in a dream

The weekly drum circle is getting a little sweeter.

Sweet Treats Asheville, a pushcart stocked with desserts and beverages, will be stationed 2-10 p.m. at the weekly Friday event in Pritchard Park throughout the summer.

Owner and treat creator Kari Nidy says she made her pushcart dream a reality out of necessity.

“I was a professional, award-winning, fine art show artist for 25 years, before COVID shut down all the festivals,” says Nidy. “March 2020 changed all, and I had to give up my housing, move to Murphy and at age 51 unload trucks at Walmart for a year and a half. Starting over, I always had a dream to run a pushcart spot downtown, watching from afar at festivals. I wanted to be home and off the road so I could engage in this wonderful community. There are only a few offerings for kids in this town, and I also mean kids of all ages who do not hit the breweries.”

Nidy’s cart is influenced by her love of Japanese cuisine. She researched how to make a Japanese shaved ice called kakigōri. The dish is similar to Hawaiian shaved ice but is garnished with sweetened condensed milk.

“You see these on every corner in Japan, and each culinary artist has their own twist to the traditional dessert,” she says. “I ordered my first machine straight from Japan, and it is manual as there is no electric at the pushcart spots.”

Nidy makes all of her own organic syrups and tops the kakigōri with konpeitō, a Japanese sugar candy that dates to the 15th century, when European traders introduced it. “Because raw sugar was rare, producing candy was expensive, so konpeitō was considered a precious gift,” she adds. “Throughout history, the Imperial House of Japan has given konpeitō as a thank-you gift to important contacts, as well as offerings in tea ceremonies and temples, and continues to do so today as an important gesture in Japanese cultural customs.”

Nidy’s cart also features flavored lemonades and cotton candy, and specials such as chocolate-dipped strawberries and cereal treats. Dogs can enjoy a treat, too, such as snow cones with a chicken bone broth pour-over and homemade peanut butter dog biscuits.

“We also offer infused treats for adults over the age of 21 with identification,” adds Nidy. “Beau Ballard at Mari Fairy’s Café Canna (in West Asheville) is my partner, and we believe in helping educate our community with our experience in legal delta infusions. We have had an amazing response to add-on infusions of delta-9 and have mastered the chemistry of delta-9 cotton candy.”

Nidy is planning to take Sweet Treats to other spots in Asheville, as well as on the road in the future.

For more information, visit avl.mx/cpj.

RAD new brews

A former manager and brewer of Wicked Weed Brewing has opened a new brewery in the River Arts District.

Robert “Lem” Lemery found the location for The River Arts District Brewing Co. a week and a half before COVID shut everything down but was able to relaunch the project in April 2022.

The brewery held its grand opening on May 20. Shawn Robinson, who also worked at Wicked Weed as a bar manager, will manage the new spot.

“Being [run by] an Asheville native, A.C. Reynolds graduate and UNCA alumnus means The RAD Brew Co. will continue to be authentically Asheville — friendly, unique and welcoming to all,” says Robinson.

The brewery is offering five beers during the opening period but will gradually increase to 15 or more.

“We don’t package or distribute, so our beer list will be continually changing and evolving,” says Robinson. “As we find beers that are well received, we’ll let the public dictate our flagships. The goal is to always have approximately five to six German-style lagers on tap, which I don’t think is something many Asheville breweries offer.”

The space features a large deck and outdoor beer garden, and although the brewery won’t serve food, food trucks will be scheduled.

The RAD Brewing Co. is open Sunday through Thursday, noon-10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, noon-11 p.m.

“The mentality is we aren’t just selling beer, but rather we’re hoping to create an experience,” says Robinson. “Despite being at the foot of downtown, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped into a hidden gem in a much more rural area. Asheville thrives on tourists, and we’ll take all of them that want to visit us, but what we want is to be a brewery that locals and our surrounding Asheville and River Arts community are proud of and want to spend their time at.”

RAD Brewing Co. is at 13 Mystery St. For more information, visit avl.mx/cpk.


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.

About Andy Hall
Andy Hall graduated from The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After working at the United States Capitol for ten years, she has returned to her native state to enjoy the mountains — and finally become a writer.

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.