The 16 Best Cocktail Bars in Asheville, NC
Asheville may have a reputation for being one of the best spots to brew beer (and drink it!), but the area actually has a thriving scene of cocktail bars and even distilleries. You’ll have no lack of options for nightlife in Asheville!
Since eating local is the name of the game in Asheville, many restaurants and bars have extended the concept to their cocktail list, with everything from herbs to fruits sourced locally and many syrups and infusions made in-house. Local bartenders come up with creations that rely on the flavors of the moment but also offer twists on classic cocktails, so you can mix it up throughout the night, trying a familiar drink at one place and sampling something totally new at the next spot.
While many of the most fun bars in Asheville are in the downtown area, you can venture further afield to find tasty libations in South Slope, West Asheville, or the outskirts of town. This list gives you lots of options for things to do in Asheville at night – no need to restrict yourself to a gin and tonic when there’s something exciting and different to be had at each of the 16 best bars in Asheville!
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The 16 Best Cocktail Bars in Asheville
1. Embrace Appalachia’s Heritage at Sovereign Remedies
Tucked away in a historic building on Market Street, Sovereign Remedies isn’t just a cool daytime restaurant and dinner spot but rather one of the best bars in Asheville to get a craft cocktail. Spending an hour or two here is absolutely one of the best things to do in Asheville at night.
The building’s history created the theme, to some extent, since it has housed doctors, dentists, barbers, and a pharmacy over the years. The name Sovereign Remedies refers to personalized family recipes for tinctures and healing medicines made with local items that were able to be purchased in the Appalachian mountains before a lot of mainstream medicine was available locally.
Every drink at this bar is going to have something in it you might not expect, from The Huntress (made with duck fat vodka!) to the Winter Remedy (featuring garlic honey!) to the House G&T (featuring apples and cinchona bark!).
This is also one of the best cocktail bars in Asheville if you have some buddies who like a complex drink but don’t consume alcohol – the Happy Accident, for instance, mixes juniper, cranberry, tart cherry, pomegranate grenadine, smoked serrana, and non-alcoholic bitters for a truly fascinating flavor profile. Find your own remedy while enjoying the picturesque interior of this beautiful bar.
2. Embrace the Retro Vibe at The Golden Pineapple
When you want to see the real nightlife in Asheville, head for this eclectic neighborhood spot. I love the philosophy of The Golden Pineapple, a fun bar in West Asheville. Their website says, “We don’t want people to feel like it has to be a special occasion to have a craft cocktail. It’s not a precious thing; it’s casual and fun.”
The bar sports a lively retro vibe and celebrates the past of the building, which is one of the oldest in West Asheville – it used to be a record studio! This is the spot for your friends who love to “hang with the locals,” the spot that is thoughtfully put together but a tad off the beaten tourism path.
The bar’s namesake drink has whiskey and rum, lime, amaro, tepache, and almond orgeat. You’ll find drinks with sake and yogurt, bell pepper and peppercorn, or three kinds of slushies. At once totally irreverent and perfectly delicious, you’ll enjoy the way this bartender-owned bar really serves the people what they want, whether it’s a regular old weekday for drinks after work or a big occasion.
3. Sample Grain-to-Garnish Drinks at Cultivated Cocktails
Cultivated Cocktails happily shares that it was the first true distillery to produce gin and rum since prohibition in Asheville. Now, they have their primary production facility and a downtown shop and tasting room that is open to the public, making it a great stop on your cocktail tour of Asheville.
Sample one of their many sippers, from Appalachian Aperitif, a spicy, apple-y concoction, to their Shades of Rose gin finished in red wine barrels. Their classic whiskey, vodka, and rum also make great bases for a variety of cocktails, which their bartenders in the tasting lounge will be happy to pour for you.
A cool twist is that Cultivated Cocktails took it a step further and made kits that include everything you need to make 15-16 of some of their signature cocktails (you’ll also need to buy the spirits!), making them a great stop if you know you’ll be doing a movie night in or a game night sometime during your stay in Asheville.
Try the Nutty or Nice Mojito around the holidays – it’s rum, mint, orgeat, vanilla bean syrup, lime, and almond milk, but don’t take my word for it – stop by and sample cocktails at their bar so you can find a favorite.
4. Taste the Variety of Spirits at The Crow & Quill
If you want the best bar in Asheville for a variety of spirits, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere with more bottles than The Crow & Quill. The walls of bottles include more than 600 whiskeys and over 1,000 spirits in total – if you can’t find something to suit you in all that, I’m not sure what you’re looking for!
The whole space has an old-timey vibe that comes with a bit of a romantic start – the entrance is hidden, but if you can find the 106 and the lanterns, you’ve got the right door. While you peruse the liquor library, you’ll be surrounded by a fascinating array of antiques, perfect for great conversation among friends or a good way to start the conversation on a first date.
Sip a Jackie Treehorn, a concoction of lavender-vanilla infused vodka, house-made coffee liqueur, cream, and chocolate shavings, or the house version of an English pub drink, the Pimm’s Coupe. Homemade vermouth, Mahon Spanish Gin, lemon balm, cucumber, strawberry, and a balsamic rinse add all kinds of flavor to this fascinating cocktail. This is a bar you can go to as a regular for literal years and never try the exact same drink twice!
5. Sip With a View at the Great Hall Bar at the Omni Grove Park Inn
For atmosphere, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better cocktail bar in Asheville than the Great Hall Bar. The Omni Grove Park Inn has been serving up gravitas with every rum and coke for decades, and with the most impressive view in all of North Asheville, this is a great spot to try a tipple.
I’ll warn you that if you’re not staying on-site, you’ll be paying for parking, but compared to the luxury rate for a room, paying for parking is well worth it, especially on a clear day. Before or after you head to the bar, wander the halls of this historic spot, enjoying the outdoor terraces and gardens.
While not technically one of the rooftop bars in Asheville, you can easily access some of the most beautiful views here.
6. Have a Drink With a Side of Burger at Rankin Vault
There are a few contenders for the best burger in Asheville, but Rankin Vault is definitely in contention. When you’re trying to get drinks with friends or family but also just need to house some incredible bar food at the same time, this is the place.
The Vault Burger starts with Hickory Nut Gap farm beef (a top-notch local source), bacon, white cheddar, arugula, red onion, and spicy mayo. Then pick one of their fun or complex cocktails, like the Purple Pill, a brightly-colored concoction of Beefeater Gin, Crème de Violette, lavender syrup, lemon, and St.-Germain. Or take in an Ashevillian Love Affair, a bourbon and champagne mix with blood orange puree.
There’s a literal bank vault in the elegant space that groups can actually sit in, hence the name of the bar. Close to everything downtown has to offer, the Vault should definitely be on your “best bars in Asheville” list.
7. Explore Charming Montford and Stop By Little Jumbo
Just to the north of downtown, East of Merrimon Avenue, you’ll find Montford – a neighborhood full of beautiful historic homes, parks, and even the city’s own outdoor theater where the Montford Park Players stage plays and musicals.
Little Jumbo, named for a historic New York City bar, takes their cocktails incredibly seriously – their cocktail menu, however, is fun and irreverent, accompanying lists of cocktail ingredients with cautions like, “Fortune favors the bold, and so does this remarkable drink,” and, “Careful, these can go down a little too easily.”
This is the bar where you can get your cocktail education one tipple at a time, appreciating the subtleties of how much the team at Little Jumbo thought out these libations. The bar space is classy and perfect for your friend who doesn’t feel like braving the downtown traffic and just wants to drink something absolutely well-made while sampling some smoked trout dip or olives.
It’s also the spot for a raging Saturday night vinyl dance party, as well as live jazz on Monday and Tuesday, adding to the weekday nightlife in Asheville.
8. Embrace the Southern Roots at Rhubarb
I was waiting for friends to get dinner at Chef John Fleer’s Rhubarb in the heart of downtown Asheville, and that is the only reason I discovered the treasure that is Rhubarb’s cocktail bar.
While it isn’t huge, they make up for it with a warm atmosphere and friendly bartenders, and just like the menu’s scratch-made, local flavors, the cocktail list is tasty, if a little cheeky.
Try Olivia’s Martini, with vodka that has been infused with green cardamom and coffee for a flavor you have to taste to believe. Get an R-Bar Old Fashioned made with Southern Star Rye, a distilled whiskey from Statesville, North Carolina, just down the mountain.
9. Get Into Whiskey Business at The Times Bar & Coffee Shop
It’s hard to beat the variety of Scotch and American whiskeys available at The Times Bar & Coffee Shop. By day, a great spot for espresso drinks, this bar becomes an artistically-crafted cocktail lounge in the evening, where the variety of bottles definitely leans heavily on the whiskey side of things.
If you’re dragging a whiskey aficionado around downtown, stop here for a sample from the Break Even Bottle – the bartenders at The Times pull a top-shelf bottle and serve one ounce per person per day at cost so that you can sample the best for a reasonable price (think the same as most cocktails in town!).
Lest you think that whiskey is all they’ve got going, fear not. Wild variety abounds on the menu, like the recent Kale, Yeah, a kale, banana, oat milk, lemon, allspice, and almond infused cachaca cocktail, or the Tokyo Lapdog, made with smoky lapsang tea, vanilla, amaro Montenegro, Roku gin, umami, and angostura bitters.
Truly, you can sample flavors from the entire world in a few blocks’ radius if you visit the best cocktail bars in Asheville.
10. Spin a New Record at Session Cafe & Bar
This coffee shop and bar is located inside a truly unique space: Citizen Vinyl. This record press facility and recording studio has a record store and truly celebrates a bygone era by making new vinyl records and letting artists flourish.
The cafe and bar at the heart of it all is one of the most unique and fun bars in Asheville, located in the heart of downtown by the Grove Arcade. While you can pick up a sandwich or an espresso throughout their open hours, their unusual cocktail and aperitivo menu shine in the evenings.
Try a Cultura Revolver featuring tequila, Borghetti, coconut sugar Gomme, and cocoa nib bitters. For something more recognizable, try their Negroni Classico, or pick from among the beers and wines available. The Citizen Vinyl space is an automatic conversation starter and guarantees a fascinating night as you sample the bartenders’ handiwork.
11. Belly Up to the Bubbly Bar at Battery Park Book Exchange
Battery Park Book Exchange is one of the most classy spots in town, a bookstore stuffed floor to ceiling with nooks, crannies, staircases, and thousands upon thousands of books. The bar specializes in champagne, allowing visitors to try something new or sample a few with a flight.
However, it breaks onto this list because they have sparkling wine cocktails – and they are literary themed! The Great Gatsby pairs bubble with a sugar cube, orange bitters, and an orange twist, while the Death in the Afternoon adds anise extract and star anise to champagne for an unusual licorice twist.
Whether you’re looking for a cocktail to sip by yourself over a good read or want to try a new champagne with a friend before enjoying the rest of the Grove Arcade, you’ll want to give Battery Park some time.
12. Walk on the Weirder Side at The Odd
The Odd or Odditorium in West Asheville is a staple of a very weird but very fun bar culture. Come for bizarre taxidermy, unexplained curios, and wildly colorful murals, but stay for the delicious and strangely-named cocktails.
This is the spot to go when you want your cocktail night to be a bit unhinged but with plenty of stories to tell the next day. The Odd holds live music of all kinds, comedy nights, burlesque and drag shows, and you don’t necessarily know what you’ll get when you stop by. They have food, they have plenty of drink, and they are ready for a great time all the time.
13. Never Have the Same Night Twice at Storm Rhum Bar
One of the fun things about downtown is that the vibe is so different in every restaurant and cocktail bar you enter. In the same few blocks of city streets, you can have a totally calm night, a wild party night, or something totally different.
The end of many good nights, however, is with some snacks or a meal at Storm Rhum Bar, given that their kitchen stays open late. You won’t miss last call either: they’ve got a really interesting series of signature cocktails.
Try the Right Hand, which has Raleigh Rum Company’s sweet dark rum, Campari, and Carpano Antica formula. Or Fog over Rio, which combines cachaca, a spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice, with earl grey lavender syrup, lemon, and soda water.
If you hadn’t caught the drift yet, it’s a “rhum bar” – but you can also get yourself a Sassy Frassy Lassie, a gin and grapefruit cocktail, or The Medford Revolver, which pairs coffee liqueur with bourbon.
14. Infuse Your Night With Flavor at Bone & Broth
Bone & Broth is a restaurant that serves up tasty steaks, but their elegant bar is a perfect place to try something totally new. The bar team at Bone & Broth infuses their own spirits, so you can get a shot of Ginger Blackberry Bourbon, Grilled Peach Tea Vodka, or Mango Habanero Tequila.
Their cocktail list focuses on classics, including the House Old Fashioned, B&B Sazerac, and the Aviation, made with locally distilled Chemist Gin. This intimate haunt is probably one of the best cocktail bars in Asheville for having a one-on-one conversation or date night – a place to hang out, chat, and really savor your drinks.
If you’ve got a beer nerd for a friend, check out their list of rare and cellared beers, many which have truly unusual flavors and styles.
15. Indulge in a Rich Treat at Crave Dessert Bar
Sure, some people want their whiskey served neat, a pure form of liquid fire as you sip, but what if what you’re in the mood for is the best cocktail bar in Asheville where you’re drink tastes like chocolate?
Then what you want to do is to head for the amazing Crave Dessert Bar, a restaurant and dessert restaurant that also features a full bar and a section of the menu called (sigh!) Sippable Desserts. The Chocolate Cocaine, consisting of chocolate, vodka, crème de cacao, and cream, is incredibly rich, while the Thicker Than A Snicker combines crème de cocoa with other liqueurs, caramel vodka, Irish cream, and amaretto, for a truly crave-able but still highly potent quaff.
16. Switch it Up With Sake at Ben’s Tune-Up
While it isn’t a cocktail bar per se, I felt like Ben’s Tune-Up should be included on any list of the most fun bars in Asheville because I’ve never run into anything like it. It’s a beer garden, first and foremost, with a full-service restaurant inside this big, industrial building with fun courtyards.
Their drink of choice, however, is rice wine, or sake. It’s brewed on-site, which is very rare since almost all sake is brewed in Japan and is pasteurized for shipping. They have some of the traditional styles, but they infuse their sakes with fruit as well, like the Lemon Ginger and Pineapple Jalapeño.
If you’re looking for a cocktail at all costs, try a Yu-Tang Sake Spritzer, a light drink made by mixing sake with Yuzu citrus, mandarin orange, and tangerine puree. The staff is very knowledgeable about sake, and you and your fellow guests are sure to enjoy the tasty Asian-fusion food available too.
In the heart of South Slope, it’s easily within walking distance of many of the other cocktail bars in downtown Asheville, so keep it in mind if you want something highly unique!