By Molly Fellin Spence
1. Chemist Spirits in Asheville, N.C., was born following hours of meticulous experimental moonshining by Debbie Word and her daughter, Danielle Donaldson, an actual chemist. The two share an appreciation for old-world distilling traditions and modern science, which led to the creation of their first spirit, a vapor-infused American style gin.
The distillery, located on Asheville’s famous South Slope, offers a series of gins, including the American style, as well as a rich and complex Barrel Rested Gin, a ginger-infused Navy Strength Gin, and a decadent Chocolate Orange Gin Liqueur made with locally roasted cacao husks.
But there’s more to Chemist Spirits than gin. The distillery recently released Green Man 25th Anniversary Single Malt Whiskey, a collaboration with Green Man Brewery, featuring its 100% Golden Promise malt finished in charred American white oak barrels for almost two years.
Opened in 2018, this female-led distillery features a gorgeous tasting room space, modeled after long-ago apothecaries and filled with many small details, all nods to their name.
Next door, their prohibition-themed cocktail lounge, Antidote, is the perfect space to enjoy a cocktail or three. Try their version of the Gimlet, made with barrel-rested gin, lime and cane syrup. Or dive into the East Meets West: oolong tea-infused Navy Strength Gin, plus velvet Falernum, lime cordial and umeboshi.
2. In 2016, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing opened its first East Coast location in Asheville. The brewing operation, now one of the largest craft brewers in the U.S., got its start in the basement of owners Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch. One of their first and most recognizable brews, Fat Tire, was “born on a bike” as Kim and Jeff biked through Europe, sampling beer along the way. Its unique flavor is crafted with Belgian yeast balanced with fresh herbal hops. Located near the River Arts District, New Belgium’s facility is rather large, perfect for spending an afternoon outside, enjoying some sun and some suds from the tap room deck, perched above the French Broad River. Food trucks and live bands often visit, and free tours of the brewing operation are available by booking in advance online.
3. Looking for a pick-me-up? PennyCup Coffee Co. is the place to visit for a wake-up call after all that booze. A small-batch roaster with four locations around Asheville, PennyCup offers a wide array of beans to both restaurants in town and locals and tourists who want to brew at home. From limited-edition roasts to signature mainstays, the shop’s menu is updated regularly, and beans are “shipped and sipped nationwide.”
Stop by the café and roastery on Depot Street in Asheville’s lovely River Arts District, for its cool industrial vibe and a delicious, balanced cup of coffee or a strong cup of espresso. They’ve also got Nitro Cold Brew on tap or in bottles to go.