For those that aren’t regularly liquor drinkers, here’s a fascinating article in the Asheville Citizen-Times on that city’s growing craft mixed drink scene. A key point: better times mean that people buy better quality liquor:
[Asheville ABC] System head Mark Combs said sales, which were $23.7 million in 2012-13, are growing not because people are drinking more but because they are drinking better. The volume of liquor sold has been relatively flat, he said.
“My customers are buying up. … They’re not buying a $10 bottle of vodka, they’re buying a $20 bottle of vodka,” he said. “We sell about the same number of bottles.”
And there’s also an increase in bars offering pricey craft cocktails:
But local bartender Jasper Adams said the city’s cocktail scene is changing rapidly. About half a dozen bars have significant craft cocktail offerings, he said.
“There are … more bars that are specializing in harder-to-find and premium spirits. There’s still plenty of room to grow, but there’s a growing number of bartenders who know how to use them,” he said.
Adams works at The Imperial Life, above Table restaurant on College Street.
Bartenders there sit down weekly to discuss what ingredients are available and plan the bar’s cocktail offerings accordingly. Some syrups or other components may require several days of preparation before they are ready for use in a mixed drink.
“The challenge with doing something like this is to make sure we’re making a delicious, premium product but also make sure we’re not in some unobtainable price range,” Adams said.
Craft cocktails, he said, typically run $8 to $13 in Asheville. That might be more expensive than some customers are accustomed, but Adams said they keep coming back.