I admittedly know almost nothing about mezcal, just that it’s tequila-adjacent and that “preferring mezcal” over tequila is a key personality trait in a type of person who’ll wax rhapsodically about why vinyl is a more of a pure listening experience and probably has a couple of fashion scarves they wear when it’s too warm for even sleeves. That’s to say that when I was told that Asheville had a new mezcal bar, my first instinct was to roll my eyes and say, “I bet the patrons there are awful.”
The older I get, the more cynical and contrary I find myself getting. I don’t know if that’s the result of where America is heading or me being crotchety before the acceptable time. Either way, I don’t know if I like it because sometimes I think it telegraphs that I’m a negative person, and sometimes I fear I’m becoming a negative person, even though other times I think I’m not a negative person, just an informed person who questions a lot of things and has a healthy disdain for people making obscure interests their full personalities to make themselves feel superior (which, honestly, I think maybe more people should adopt?).
I voiced this concern to a friend recently, and I was happy when he said he didn’t consider me a negative person at all. He said he found my caustic and cynical (and cynical doesn’t bug me…I also think more people could benefit from a healthy dose of cynicism), but not overtly negative in the least, which made me feel better.
It also made me feel less like a negative person when I visited the new Asheville “mezcal and espresso bar”—Anoche—and found that it’s 100% my favorite new bar in town.
Anoche is tiny (when I first clocked that it was a new business getting ready to unveil itself, I assumed it was a salon or tattoo parlor) and situated in River Art District across the streets from The Grey Eagle and All Souls Pizza, respectively, conveniently in walking distance from both The Wedge and Olde London Road, which are two of my summertime staples, so I’m excited for that.
Anoche will be a perfect summertime bar, as it has a nice little side yard full of plants and picnic tables, but also fenced in from the road, which I like. I was there a couple of nights ago, and the right wall bordering the backyard opens garage door style, which really opens the inside up (and I’m a sucker for dining/drinking establishments where one person could sit outside while another sits in…I have no idea why). Anoche also has what I think will become my favorite summertime drink: the Chelada: a Modelo mixed with lime juice (and, traditionally, celery salt, which I hold because I believe the world would be better if celery were eradicated) along with a spiced rim. It’s served in a stein-style mug and is not only delicious but extremely reasonably priced. I think that’s another reason I’ll be hanging at Anoche often. The drinks are very reasonable, which is becoming more and more of a rarity in this world of inflation we currently call home.
While Anoche will be a perfect summer stop, it also has a very cozy feel for the winter. As I mentioned, the bar is small, dark, and narrow, which all sounds like they could be negative descriptors, but I find positive attributes. It reminded me of the tiny corner bars you’d find in Philly or New York that Asheville doesn’t have.
Anoche is also open for coffee and pastries during the day, which I’ve yet to explore. They currently only serve drinks at night, but I’m hoping they add some small plates, or at least some chips and dip, to their repertoire soon.