(Beer Flight @ Thirsty Monk)
Asheville is a town with many nicknames. For three years in a row it's won the title of Beer City USA among voters in a national poll. With 10 local breweries operating in this one city alone, I think that it's earned such a distinguished label. I'm not a huge drinker myself, but I've been known to knock back a few here and there. When you've tirelessly walked back and forth on the streets of downtown, you're bound to get thirsty. There are so many options to choose from that it can be a rather difficult choice to make when you're parched and ready to make a pit-stop.
Refreshment can be found in many different forms throughout downtown Asheville. Of course, we didn't have time to hit up every hot spot we intended to, but there's always next time! This post doesn't just outline places to get booze, though. We stopped at a few non-alcoholic establishments as well that I want to share, too.
Here are my suggestions on great places to get drinks in Asheville, NC.
Best Beer Selection: Thirsty Monk — This neighborhood favorite isn't made up of just one bar. It's actually two bars! The upstairs is where you can find American craft beers while the basement bar is strictly reserved for Belgium brews. You'd never know that there was anything downstairs unless you asked, because they have a lot to choose from in the top bar alone. Between the two bars in Thirsty Monk, there are 62 rotating taps. They keep an updated list on their website, so you know what's available at any given time. Cody and I ventured downstairs to take a beer flight. A beer flight is where you get to try several different brews at one time for a low price ($8). I really liked that you didn't have to commit to an entire pint in the event you selected something you didn't care for. On the evening that we went, which was mid-week, there were virtually no other drinkers downstairs. Judging by the amount of people hanging around outside, however, it looks like this might be a local hangout. You can't miss it either. The bar is painted purple!
Best Bar for Cocktails: Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge — The name of this bar was given because it's in what used to be a bank. An actual vault still remains where they have set up a lounge of sorts with cheesy red velvet curtains and a cushy couch complete with a big-screen TV. The rest of the bar was pretty packed with what I deemed to be a healthy amount of hipsters. It was dark and the music was loud, but the drinks were good! I ordered their Blackberry Margarita. It had a nice balance of sweet and tart, and I liked that it came frozen. While they did offer outdoor seating, space was limited, so Cody and I stayed inside with the crowd to finish our drinks. We didn't stay for long, but I would definitely go back to try out some of the other cocktails on their menu.
Best Family Friendly Bar: Asheville Brewing Company (on Coxe Avenue) — Right around the corner from where Cody and I stayed sat this place. It had a low-key vibe that I felt like was a place where you could bring the whole family. By the time we made our way over here, I was over drinking any beer, so I didn't try any of their homemade brews. Cody tried their Ninja Porter and Shiva IPA, neither of which I liked. Apparently, I'm not a fan of hoppy beers. He wasn't overly impressed, but I didn't hear any complaints from him either. My drink of choice was their Electric Lemonade that was this radioactive-blue color. It was extremely sweet, but I loved it! The only food we tried were the jalapeno poppers, although I have heard that they have the best pizza in Asheville. They had a HUGE outdoor patio with a large projector screen where I'm sure they show football games and such. Had we ventured there sooner than our last night in Asheville, we probably would have been back more than once!
Best Place for a Pick-Me Up: Dobra Tea — This was one of my favorite non-alcoholic spots that we stopped at. As we walked past, the sign outside caught my eye. After investigating their menu, Cody and I decided to give it a try. Going inside was like stepping into a temple adorned with all sorts of oriental-inspired decor, the setting was relaxing and serene. We chose to sit at a small bar in front of the large window so that we could people watch. I wasn't in the mood for anything hot, so I was on the lookout for an iced tea on their extensive menu. They hand you a bell (that you ring when you're ready to order) and a small mini binder with a ton of options to choose from! Still stuck on what caught my eye outside, I decided to go with the Kyoto Kinen. It was a mixture of Japanese powdered Matcha Green tea, local milk and local honey. It had just a hint of sweetness. I found it to be very refreshing! Something unique about this teahouse is that they actually travel to the regions in which the tea was grown to source their loose leaf offerings.
Best Place for a Non-Alcoholic Buzz: Vanuatu Kava Bar — This watering hole isn't located in the heart of downtown, but it was practically right across the street from the Orange Peel, which is pretty dang close. A friend of ours told us about it the last time we came to Asheville, but we didn't get to go. We almost thought that an opportunity to try it was thwarted yet again because they were closed, but we ended up going back later in the day during their happy hour. It was a little hard to schedule because you can't have any alcohol in your system when you've had kava (at least you're not supposed to), so we just had to plan accordingly.
Unsure of what to order, we briefly discussed our options with the “bartender” who offered some suggestions on what to get for first timers. After an explanation about what Kava is, and what it does, we got our bowls of the brown liquid and went out back. I can't say that it was anywhere near as tasty as some of the other things I've shared in this post, but it not supposed to be good. People drink Kava for its side effects, which can have a calming or euphoric effect among other things. It had a bitter and chalky taste that I found difficult to drink, but I almost finished it! My mood afterward seemed a lot similar to how I had already been feeling, so the effects were lost on me. I suppose that I'm just naturally laid-back. :D Although it was an interesting experience to say the least. I'd definitely give it another try the next time we're in town. For a non-drinker, this would be a unique place to go.
Well, that's all I have to share about some of the most interesting places I found to drink in Asheville. As I said, we didn't get to hit all the hot spots we were hoping to, but we'll save those for our next trip! To see more of what this city has to offer, I encourage you to visit some of the other posts I have already published. If you have any suggestions to add, please feel free to share in the comments! Or on the WW Facebook page!