Marble floors and dim lighting awaited us as we stepped away from Battery Park Avenue and into Asheville’s historic Flatiron Building – a space that doesn’t look to have changed much over the past 90 years. Just inside the door and to the left was a small white sign letting us know that Sky Bar was open and ringing the bell would provide the elevator service we needed. A push of the button, a buzzing sound some eight floors above us echoing through the elevator chamber, and a few moments later, we were greeted by an attractive bearded fellow opening the door and cage of a 1920′s style elevator.
“Good evening. Welcome to Sky Bar. May I see your ID’s?” was the greeting before the cage and door were closed and the trip to the top of this historic Asheville building began. On the way up, the elevator attendant asked us if it was our first time at Sky Bar, letting us know where to go once our journey together ended.
Just off the elevator and to the left was a small green sign that read “Balcony.” Once we passed through, we were in Sky Bar. Red and pink sunset stroked against the Blue Ridge Mountains as the lights of cars and buildings twinkled below and soft classic tunes played on the overhead speakers. Before we knew it a young waitress dressed in all black greeted us with a menu and a warm welcome to our new favorite establishment.
Sweeping views of the mountains to the west of Asheville are all yours as you journey onto the large metal fire escapes hanging onto the 6th, 7th, and 8th floors of the Flatiron Building. Simply dressed with tables and chairs on the 6th and 7th floors and large patio umbrellas on the 8th, Sky Bar is all about the scenery offered by Asheville’s surroundings. The scenery, and the drinks.
From on-site infused liquors to reinvented martinis, out of this world speciality cocktails and ever-changing drinks of the day, Sky Bar offers unique beverages available no where else in Asheville. Manager and Operator Katrina Rush loves the place she calls work on most evenings throughout the outdoor-friendly months in Western North Carolina. “I have creative freedom here” she shared as we discussed the fun cocktail offerings, “I love all the drinks, that’s why they’re on the menu.”
Katrina is responsible for the bar’s menu and is the creator of such delicious offerings as house-infused pineapple-strawberry tequila, blackberry-mint run, and vodka-soaked pickles. “Fruit soaked in liquor – you can’t go wrong” said Katrina, also referred to as Sky Bar’s “Momma Bear” for her guidance and leadership among staff and patrons alike.
She even works with a local, certified herbalist for one of the bar’s more interesting concoctions – Love Potion #9. An infusion of Frangelico, vodka, muira puama, damiana, horny goat weed, lotus, cocoa powder, and maple syrup, Love Potion #9 is a concentrated aphrodisiac elixir available by itself or in the Passion-tini (pictured below, on the right) where it is mixed with Godiva Dark and a splash of coconut milk. Deliciously herbaceous, chocolatey, and light with a slight spice from the cinnamon, the Passion-tini will make you fall in love with the scenery and the person you call lover, all at the same time.
If you’re looking for something lighter and more refreshing the bar’s most popular drink, the Spring Fling (below, left), is for you. A mint-infused vodka is mixed with muddled mint, lemons, and club soda before being topped with some of Katrina’s homemade vodka pickles. “A few of those pickles and you’re feeling great,” Katrina laughed.
One thing that Katrina is not afraid to admit to is the strength of Sky Bar’s cocktails, “We pour a stiff drink here, it’s like you’re getting two drinks in one.” That’s part of the reason she’s put a one drink maximum on her signature sangria – made with tequila-soaked fruit, Cointreau, apple brandy, red wine, and a splash of Goldschläger.
An Asheville native, college graduate, and almost teacher, Katrina spent many years as a bartender and bar manager about town before settling down at one of Asheville’s most popular destinations, “Sky Bar is a magical, hidden place that you can stumble into, watch the sun set, and have a great drink; you take a rickety, old elevator to the top of this building, climb out onto a fire escape, and order a drink – I love it.”
And she loves Asheville, a place she calls a “vortex of positivity.” “People are more alive here,” Katrina shares when she’s bragging on her hometown, “the community and people are unlike anywhere I’ve ever been.” Her love of community and positivity play an important role in the Sky Bar experience. “When people come up here, they are awestruck by the view, they let their guard down and relax” said Katrina. “People are more willing to connect” she added. “I love learning about folks who visit us and investing in their lives.”
Sky Bar is located at 18 Battery Park Avenue, Asheville and is open Tuesday – Sunday at 5pm, March – November.
The bar fills up quickly around sunset and on the weekends. Reservations are available and the bar is happy to host private parties and events. Call Katrina at (828) 258-1058.
Where to Sit?
Katrina says that the round table in the far corner on the 7th floor balcony has the best views, part of the reason it has been dubbed the Engagement Table; “I’ve probably had 50 couples get engaged at that table through the years.” There is also an indoor lounge off of the 7th floor for a bit more privacy or those who tend to be challenged with vertical experiences.
What to Get?
Some of our favorites include:
- Dirty Chai Sky-tini - Chai (made by the herbalist who creates Love Potion #9) with vanilla vodka, Kahlua, & cream
- Flying French Men Sky-tini - Grey Goose vodka, Chambord, pineapple, & champagne float
- Spring Fling - Mint-infused vodka, cucumbers, lemon, club soda with vodka pickles.
- Bee’s Tea - Vodka or gin (we like it with gin) with tonic water and hibiscus.
Need to Know…
Sky-tinis are priced at 11, speciality cocktails at 10, and most infused drinks at 11. Drink specials are available every night.
Remember, the drinks are strong – you really get what you pay for.
A full wine list and an assortment of local beers are also available.
And don’t forget to tip the elevator operator – a few dollars is a kind gesture.
Written by: Tyler J. McCall
Photography by: Sarajane Case
Photography Editing by: Eric Campbell
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