10 Feb 2020
Asheville is well-known as a beer lover's paradise and a craft beer mecca. While Asheville has nearly an unlimited list of craft breweries to explore, there are also plenty of bars worth checking out. Many of the bars in Asheville will feature local craft brews, and common domestic options, along with ciders, wine, and cocktails. But in Beer City USA, how do you narrow down the list? Here we’ll break down our choices for the best rooftop bars, cocktail bars, wine bars, and more.
Ask a local where to go for the best rooftop experience and they’ll likely recommend The Montford Rooftop Bar. The Montford is located in downtown Asheville at the corner of Haywood and Monford. The bar is a smaller, more intimate environment with incredible long-range views from inside and outside. It’s the only bar in Asheville with unobstructed views of the mountains. They feature a full-service bar, serving classics like the Montford Mule, as well as seasonal cocktails, local craft beers, ciders, wine, and more. The Montford also offers complimentary valet parking- an added bonus in Asheville.
Hemingway’s Cuba Restaurant and Bar, located on the fourth floor of the Cambria Hotel downtown, brings the flavors of Cuba to Asheville. Hemingway’s is Asheville’s “home of the Cuban Daiquiri” and while the Hemingway Daiquiri is a must, the La Granada Mojito shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s an Asheville spin on the traditional mojito, adding pomegranate to the rum, lime, and mint recipe. Their rooftop patio has excellent westward views of the Blue Ridge Mountains making it a perfect spot to catch a beautiful sunset.
Ultra-modern Capella on 9 sits high above downtown Asheville. Capella’s chilled and relaxed vibe is a great spot to land after a long day of exploring western North Carolina. From Capella’s 9th-story vantage point, you can catch the sun setting behind the city and watch as Asheville comes alive at night. Capella focuses on handcrafted cocktails, like their signature Gin and Tonic or their Ole #4 Old Fashioned.
Antidote is easily one of the coolest spots in Asheville. Wedged amongst many of the more well-known breweries on the South Slope, you’ll find yourself irresistibly drawn to this pre-Prohibition era style speakeasy. Summoning all the ghosts and luxuries of Roaring Twenties’ past, Antidote’s floor-to-ceiling wood, apothecary style bar, secret nooks, hidden passageways, and antique piano are guaranteed to transport you back in time. Even the required “membership” adds to the exclusivity vibe of the bar- like you’re in on Asheville’s best-kept secret. Antidote’s curative cocktails feature gin from The Chemist next door. If gin isn’t your thing (but trust us and try it), this is a full-service bar with expert mixologists on hand.
Located in the historic S&W Cafeteria building downtown, The Times Bar oozes vintage class. The bar feels like a step back in time. The high ceilings, dim lighting, cozy booths, bar shelves with over 250 bottles, and a sliding ladder (you’ll be tempted to order those top-shelf drinks), bring Gatsby’s 1920 to 2020. You can tell the bartenders take pride in their carefully curated cocktails, many of which are seasonally inspired. Sit at the bar to watch them in action. This is a perfect stop for a date night, bachelorette parties, or after-work drinks.
Every trip to Asheville should include a visit to the incomparable River Arts District. Here you’ll find some of the best art studios, breweries, and restaurants in Asheville. The River Arts District is the soul of Asheville, and The Bull & Beggar fits in beautifully here. The industrial-style building gives it a modern, hip vibe which is fitting considering its modern, hip cocktail menu. Cozy up to the bar for views of passing trains while enjoying everything from craft beers, house wines, and their signature handcrafted cocktails.
The resurgence of wine in Western North Carolina also means a resurgence of wine bars like Plēb Urban Winery in the River Arts District. Plēb produces small batch, locally-sourced craft wines. Different from most other wine bars, Plēb offers wine on tap-barrelled to help eliminate the waste of bottling. Order by the glass or try a flight of wines to discover your favorite. Everything you love about the River Arts District is embodied in this space, with an exterior piece by Asheville’s beloved muralist, Ian Wilkinson whose sharp details and vivid color complement the building’s more industrial aspects, like the notable garage door opening to a deck area overlooking the French Broad.
If Harry Potter were old enough to drink, it may have been at a place like Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. It’s a bookstore, it’s a wine bar, it’s the library of your dreams. Here you can enjoy a standard glass of bubbly, or for the true bibliophiles, you can try a champagne cocktail named after a literary classic, like the aptly named Secret Garden or absinthe-infused Death in the Afternoon, while perusing the wide collection of used books or curling up on a sofa in one of the cozy corners. Located downtown in the historic Grove Arcade, Battery Park is comfortable, inviting, and warm. An afternoon here feels like picking up your favorite book and rereading it. They have a large selection of champagne and wines, along with some beer options. They’re also pet-friendly!
Formerly known as District Wine Bar, Bottle Riot is nothing more than a name change. They still focus on sustainable, biodynamic, and organic wines. This River Arts locale is a gathering place for family, friends, co-workers, and all to gather for a nice glass (or 2) of wine after a long day. They have around 50 different wines available, and the staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They’ll help assist you in finding the perfect glass of wine for your particular palette.
Miscellaneous Honorable Mentions:
Whale: The Craft Beer Collective is strictly honorable mention because of its uniqueness. Whale doesn’t celebrate the Asheville craft beer scene like every other bar in town. They recognize their location in Beer City USA, but they set themselves apart by showcasing a handpicked selection of quality craft beer from around the world. This is where you may stumble across that crisp and refreshing German Pilsner you had while vacationing in Bavaria or stumble across something new you’ve been dying to try. They have a rotating draft selection, along with a beer cooler with an extensive bottle selection of beer, wine, cider, mead, and more.
When atmosphere and vibe are almost as important as the cocktails, Post 70 Indulgence Bar in East Asheville is our pick. If Post 70 were located downtown, it would certainly be featured on nearly all of Asheville’s best lists, but because it’s a little off the beaten path it’s become more of a local hideaway. During the day it’s a bakery before flipping the script at night and transforming into a cocktail bar (literally worth spending all day here). Its cozy ambiance makes this a great stop for a romantic date night. Full-service bar with coffee, beer, and wine selections, along with superb handcrafted cocktails. They also have live music events throughout the week.
Top of the Monk is part speakeasy, part rooftop bar, and part cocktail destination. Its location atop Thirsty Monk makes it an easy location to overlook, but on the weekends you’ll often see a line of people waiting to get in. Seating only 30 people at a time, it’s worth the wait. The bartenders are some of the most knowledgeable in Asheville, crafting quality, classic cocktails and inspirational in-house creations. Carry your drink out to the rooftop to catch a glimpse of the setting sun and people-watch below. With every drink, they provide patrons with a key to access free bar snacks like chocolate-covered peanuts, yogurt-covered pretzels, snack mix, and gummy bears.
Burial Beer Company-owned Forestry Camp is cozied up in a neighborhood right beside Biltmore Village. Forestry Camp was built by the U.S. Government in 1933 and included 6 buildings on 2 acres and housed by men with the Civilian Conversation Corps, founded by President Roosevelt during the Great Depression era. The men stationed at this location helped construct the Blue Ridge Parkway. The fully renovated bar and restaurant also features a brewery, corporate offices, and barrel-aging facilities. Chef Brian Canipelli, owner of Cucina 24 and James Beard nominee, heads up the restaurant and the bar serves up everything from batch cocktails to a variety of tasty brews.
We could go on for days with a list of bars you should visit in Asheville. The good news is that Asheville is an incredibly walkable city so you can use this as a starting point and you’re almost assured to pass by others to discover for yourself.