Archive for the ‘Vacation and Travel’ Category
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
By Chris McCollum and Micah Hanks
One of the finest and most exclusive patios in downtown Asheville has always been at 130 College Street. A large, brick-floored area with a sweeping view of nearby Town Mountain, the patio is surrounded by wrought iron fencing, which helps maintain a feeling of exclusivity and security for its patrons. This patio alone has been a staple for summer bar-hoppers for a number of years already, since the Joli Rouge, a pirate-themed private club with alternative looks and an exotic draw, had occupied the location previously. Though the building had remained vacant for the better part of three years since Joli Rouge closed, the property’s new owners have decided to save that great patio for last; after all, the buzz they’re generating has more to do with what’s kept inside.
The new Asheville Arcade at 130 College Street, according to owners Josh Aaron and Leonard Poe, was built on a simple premise: they wanted “a cool place that people would want to go to.” Combining vintage arcade consoles and a bar area outfitted original NES game systems, the Arcade has quickly launched itself as one of the most popular spots in town, despite having only been in business since New Year’s Eve. Promoting their operation with Facebook, Twitter and good old-fashioned word of mouth, a loyal group of followers had already begun to emerge prior to their grand opening. Poe and Aaron, along with bar manager James Browne, were stammered when a line had formed by early evening on December 31; the building remained at-capacity for the rest of the night as the trio brought in the New Year with their new friends.
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Last year, fellow Culture of Spirits writer Micah A. Hanks wrote an article about Japanese brewing company Sapporo’s efforts to produce beer from space-grown ingredients. The rising popularity of the notion of future space tourism will indicate, for some, the next gold mine in fields that are wishing to prosper… beer should be included among these, also. After all, who would want to take a trip to space without the ability to enjoy a cold one along the way?
Space.com reported Monday that the Australian non-profit space organization Astronauts4Hire will perform a series of tests on a beer developed and brewed by Sydney’s 4 Pines Brewing and Saber Astronautics Australia. The goal of the research is to test the sustainability and drinkability of the beer in space, and the tests being done by Astronauts4Hire will include taste tests as well as the physiological affects that come from drinking it in a zero-gravity environment.
Sunday, May 30th, 2010
The results are in from the 2010 “Beer City USA” poll with Asheville, North Carolina, emerging the victor in a close battle with Portland, Oregon, with whom they tied in last year’s voting. According to official results, Asheville won with 39.9 percent of votes; 34.1 percent were attributed to Portland.
The Asheville-based Citizen Times reported that the title is one celebrated by the area, whose beer community in Buncombe County consists of nine breweries. Only weeks away in June, the city will celebrate its first first “Beer City Festival” in downtown Asheville.
In total, close to 19,000 votes were cast. Among the US cities that also placed in the ranking were Denver, CO, and Milwaukee, WI. In 2009, Asheville also tied with Portland, leading some to consider this a “second victory” for the rustic Western NC city.
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
By Micah Hanks
Recently, I had a chance to catch up with my good friend Lesley Groetsch, owner of one of the nicest new bars to hit Asheville North Carolina in recent years: The Asheville Sazerac.
As stated at their website, much of the location’s inspiration is drawn from old New Orleans, though the Sazerac “is a uniquely Asheville restaurant and cocktail lounge.” Asheville may be “Beer City East,” but there is no doubt still quite a cocktail culture here as well; The Asheville Sazerac helps affirm this in the minds of Southern cocktailians everywhere.
“Classic and contemporary cocktails, a full menu of sumptuous small plates, lounge seating and rooftop dining have all made Sazerac an instant favorite. Whether you are a seasoned local or a sophisticated tourist, put Sazerac on your must-visit list today.” Indeed, to draw so well from the spicy flavors and culture of the Big Easy, The Asheville Sazerac speaks to the heart of its hometown. In future posts here at the site, we’ll be sure and get more information from Lesley about her fine new venture she and her husband, Jack, have brought to the table. In the meantime, if you’re planning on visiting Asheville soon (or better yet, you’re already a local), you can learn more about the Sazerac by following the link below:
The Asheville Sazerac
Monday, January 25th, 2010
By Micah Hanks
It has been long lamented that overseas in countries like Germany you can order a beer with your Big Mac at McDonalds. However, soon one of the restaurant’s leading competitors, Burger King, will be making this a reality to US diners as well.
Investors.com reported today that the franchise plans to open a 24-hour “Whopper Bar South Beach,” that serves alcohol along with the chain’s popular burgers. This, in an effort to make certain Burger King locations appeal to the “sit down” crowd, will mark the first instance where alcohol has been sold in one of its US locations.
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
Two evenings ago, Micah Hanks and myself were spending the evening interviewing brewers, and tasting beer. The following morning, there were 6 inches of snow on the ground. While we had seen the forecast that called for several inches of snow, we figured that, like usual with mountain weather reports, it was grossly over-exaggerated. Little did we know, we would receive what would become known within hours as the worst winter storm of the decade in this part of the country, and we would receive some 11 to 17 inches of snow in Asheville, within a 20 hour period.
As the afternoon went by at my house, one tree came crashing down in the backyard, missing the house by no more than 4 or 5 feet.
This led to a frantic next couple hours, with my roommate and I doing our best to knock snow off the lower branches of trees, trying to keep them from snapping and causing potential damage to the house. These frantic efforts relieved the stress on the trees and they rose back up to the sky, with hundreds of pounds of snow dropping to the ground, down our sleeves, and down the open collars of our coats. But fortunately, our power stayed on, even though thousands around the city were already flickering out.
We stayed inside, ate ham sandwiches and drank some beer, until 11:15pm. Right after the basketball game we were watching ended, the power finally flickered once and died, for the rest of the night. After gathering all the flashlights together, lighting some well placed candles, and watching the eerie scene out the window, of a bright snowscape that breathed beauty.
At around midnight, we finally decided that since we weren’t going to be going to sleep that early, we might as well make some cocktails. So we did it in the style of Culture of Spirits, with cutting boards, oranges, limes, lemons, tequila, bourbon, and vodka.
Friday, December 11th, 2009
Dr. Gonzo imbibes at the bar, as played by Micah A. Hanks
By Micah Hanks
It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: a journalist, a Bluegrass singer, and a Presbyterian minister walk into a bar; but sadly, there’s no punch line to this strange set of circumstances.
It was in the summer of 2006 while visiting the great state of Montana that I was taken to one of the strangest Tiki bars I’ve ever visited. Nestled in the mountain town of Great Falls at an altitude of about 5,000 feet, my comrade Tom Godleski and I were taken by our guide, Pastor Tim, to The Sip-N-Dip Lounge.
Few bars have any real claim to fame; the Sip-N-Dip, on the other hand, has several. With an illuminated swim tank visible through reinforced glass windows behind the bar, beautiful gals dressed as mermaids swim around and interact with the bartenders on weekends. In fact, after her success appearing alongside Tom Hanks in Ron Howard’s 1984 flick Splash, Darryl Hannah even donned a mermaid costume and swam around in the tank during a visit to the famous watering hole.
Keep in mind that when I say famous, I mean famous. In its April 2003 issue, GQ Magazine voted the Sip-N-Dip Lounge as the “Number One Bar on Earth.” ‘Nuff said!
Monday, December 7th, 2009
By Micah Hanks
Andre Terrail, third-generation owner of the famous La Tour d'Argent
The La Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris plans to auction 18,000 bottles of its finest vintage wines, featuring Cognac, Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux, and a variety of other treats to be gathered up by collectors and enthusiasts.
The BBC reported today that close to 1m euros is expected to be raised by the sale, which La Tour d’Argent hopes will help “renew the cellar’s contents and ensure the restaurant keeps its multiple Michelin stars.” Upholding a rigorous claim to their quality and class, the restaurant’s website shares the following about the operation:
Every “Tower” has its legend and, as you can imagine, ours is no exception. Throughout all the vicissitudes of history, for close on a century the Tour d’Argent has maintained its almost sacred attachment to tradition and honor. Indeed, the venerable age of the building and the authentic anecdotes surrounding it count much less than the extraordinary enthusiasm of André Terrail, after him, his son Claude and now, again, André. Time and people may pass and fashions may change, but the table is always set at the Tour d’Argent.
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
By Micah Hanks
“I personally think they must have been left there by mistake, because it’s hard to believe two crates would have been left under the hut without drinking them,” remarks Al Fastier. Program Manager of the Antarctic Heritage Trust, Fastier oversees the organization, which is responsible for the care of the expedition bases associated with the first explorers of the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. Among these explorers–and perhaps most famous among his peers–was Sir Ernest Shackleton. Now, ninety years after one of the huts occupied by Shackleton was abandoned, a long forgotten gift he left behind is being unearthed: two crates of a now-extinct blend of McKinlay scotch whisky.
Three wooden huts still stand along the desolate and rocky terrain of Cape Evans on the west side of Ross Island, forming the north side of the entrance to Erebus Bay. It was here that Shackleton and his men would warm themselves by fires fed with blubber of seals they killed, and many of their belongings, tools, and even boxes of their food remain on the walls as they had been when they left. Outside Shackleton’s hut lay a dog’s remains, left where it had been shot as the men evacuated the area with haste in 1917.
Thursday, October 15th, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
Two evenings ago, Culture of Spirits writer Micah Hanks and I were tromping about around the Linville Gorge area, being recorded by a rather popular broadcasting network. This may end up being talked about more in the future, but for now, let’s just say that it was pretty fun. On the way up to the Gorge, we made a stop at the local liquor store in preparation for what would surely be an enjoyable evening. First things first, we made our way to the Bourbon section and spent several minutes pondering between Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam Black, Bulleit, Knob Creek, and Maker’s Mark.
In my opinion, Woodford tastes the finest, but that comes at a much steeper cost. So as the minutes ticked by, we debated cost versus enjoyment. Considering we were going to be spending our time at a hotel and obviously away from our personal bars, we would not be able to fully enjoy the cocktail experience. We were lacking bitters, garnishes, liqueurs, and even glasses. We knew were going to have to rely upon complimentary plastic cups and hotel ice. That meant we were going to be drinking it straight, unless we were able to grab a bottle of some rough mixer out of a vending machine.
We eventually settled upon the wax sealed bottle of Maker’s, and made our way to the register. My eye was caught by a promotional display at the end of the Liqueur aisle, and I immediately halted. I called Micah over, and showed him my wondrous discovery.