Prohibition made participating in the public enjoyment of alcohol illegal from 1920 to 1933. Regardless, the art of the cocktail thrived during this time, as underground establishments known as “Speakeasies” continued to operate. The South gets a lot of credit for being innovators in modern era cocktail creation. From New Orleans to North Carolina, mixology is alive and well. And Asheville is no stranger to the adult beverage.
Asheville is known for beer. You can’t walk two blocks downtown without hitting a popular watering hole or local brewery’s tasting room. There is no better destination in the Southeast for beer enthusiasts. The Thirsty Monk is one such destination. Locals and tourists alike have been enjoying craft and hard to find beers there since 2008. Last fall, the Monk embarked on the new, yet old, cocktail trail.
Top of the Monk specializes in cocktails and they’re doing it old school. There are no mixes or blenders. Everything is homemade, fresh squeezed and a work of art. From the Bloody Mary to Bourbon based and Gin with Absinthe, there is an element of mad science in the execution. The recipes are true to a bygone era, but with a signature all their own; the drink list is impressive but the women behind the bar are not limited to it.
As if the drinks weren’t enough, the establishment is a beautiful piece of nostalgia, complete with roof-top seating offering both urban and mountain views. The skyline of downtown Asheville hasn’t changed all that much in the last hundred years. Top of the Monk is a welcomed piece of Americana that reaffirms a time when drinks were hand made and patrons appreciated the process.