We are so spoiled by living in the epicurean wonderland that is Asheville. Unfortunately, because of this it takes a lot to wow us these days — even with so many excellent restaurants and watering holes to choose from. Irregardless, we feel it is incumbent upon us, in the name of service to our guests, to research every nook, cranny, bistro and cafe — leaving no new establishment unturned. Not snow or sleet, I digress…
As if she needed any more press, Katie Button’s new cocktail lounge, Nightbell, down on South Lexington Avenue, and right behind her restaurant Curate, turns out to be a classy, intimate setting that honors the traditional art of cocktails.
We were there on the early side of a Saturday night and so the mood was mellow and good for conversation. Word on the street is that it really picks up later in the evening and the space around the bar could get a bit mosh-y, but in a lively, friendly sort of way.
Whatever your culinary desire, you will not have any difficulty finding something savory or sweet. The “savory” offerings are served up in small plate portions and include hush puppies (with a honey, mustard dipping sauce), fish and chips, a lobster roll and duck and waffles (duck confit and an airy waffle). We partook in the oysters which came with tinctures of lemon, garlic, fennel, thyme and horseradish, but some around our circle of friends much prefer the whole and unadulterated version of accompaniments.
On the sweeter side, you can have anything from root beer floats (vanilla bourbon and nitro coulant, with tart cherry and a house root beer syrup spiked with bourbon), dark and stormy cocktails (a frozen treat layered with rum, roasted pineapple, ginger beer, grilled lime, five spice and mint) to a mascarone cheesecake in morello cherry, chocolate forest and pistachio moss or petit fors.
Cutting to the chaser — Cocktails, old classics, new perspectives and out of the ordinary are the main attraction here. The focal point of the establishment is the walk up bar. We had an (okay, maybe two) old-fashions (with Redemption Rye and an iceburg cube – done right), a Negroni, a Rye Sling (made with Bulleit Rye and chai infused cocchi di torino). All great examples of what a cocktail can be in the hands of a talented tender and a little creativity.
A smaller, by Asheville standards, collection of beers (6 draft/6 bottle) and wine(a diverse palette palate of 6 – 10 selections) is offered, but nonetheless a diverse lineup to whet any discerning (or just thirsty) whistle.
The ambiance is sophisticated. The lighting is on the darker side and there are cushioned seats toward the back with small tables to set your work of potion art down. A perfect setting for close friends or even a romantic date if you time it right. Straight to the top of the charts, this Asheville establishment should be put on your list as a must visit. In honor of the cocktail.
For more on our restaurant reviews and outings around town, visit our blog at http://pinecrestbb.com/blog/. Our Bed & Breakfast is dedicated to enhancing your culinary experience while visiting, both here with our farm to table breakfasts and around Asheville. For reservations at our Award Winning Asheville Inn, call 888-811-3053.