Top of the Monk

Top of the Monk - Speakeasy Style Cocktails in Asheville, NC
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

For the cost of a $1.00 "membership," this classic cocktail bar serves fresh, inspired drinks and snacks in an intimate setting with rooftop patio that offers stellar views of downtown Asheville and the mountains.

- The Local Expert Team

Located upstairs from popular Asheville brewery The Thirsty Monk, the Top of the Monk is worth the climb for those who prefer spirits to brews and want to enjoy a carefully handcrafted cocktail in a totally unique setting.

On a recent trip to the Top of the Monk, our small group was tickled by the process of getting into the “private club.” Thanks to antiquated NC liquor laws, this spot actually requires you to be a member before entering. But, worry not! The fee is a measly $1.00 per group, and well worth the cost of admission.

Speaking of groups, please note that this bar is not the best spot for larger groups, in fact, they do not allow groups over 7 people on weekend nights. It’s best to go for date night or with a small group of friends to really get the most out of the experience.

Once you become part of the inner circle, take the stairs up to the bar, which is at once cozy and airy. With a mid-century vibe that offers sturdy wooden bar chairs or snug club chairs and tables, staying inside is plenty comfortable, but don’t forget to check out the rooftop patio! Perfect for smokers, as well as those who wish a glimpse of stars or the mountain range beyond, it’s a great place to make the most of every sip.

We decided to order a few different cocktails to try out the impressive range offered at Top of the Monk. A true cocktail bar, this isn’t the place to order a basic whiskey and ginger–you won’t even find a soda gun in sight! Instead, plan to order off the menu and avoid asking for substitutions. The bartenders are true pros, so trust them to create a house offering mixed to perfection, and be prepared to wait several minutes while they make it just right. Also of note, Top of the Monk features a robust whiskey menu, so you’re also welcome to sip and savor a healthy pour straight from the glass.

With a rotating cocktail menu based on seasonally available ingredients, check out their website or social media to confirm what’s available before you go, and take a look at some of our favorite libations:

Sassafras Sorghum Old Fashioned
Rye whiskey with three different kinds of bitters (including smoked BBQ!), this is a stiff, smoky treat that feels like the most grown up sarsaparilla you could imagine.

The Gallagher
A watermelon lover’s dream! Tequila, lime, chili syrup and pressed watermelon makes this a refreshing, and sneakily potent, refreshment.

Smooth Operator
The perfect pick me up for coffee lovers! Featuring local cold brew coffee with rum and cream liquor in luxurious layers alongside local caramel, sea salt, and condensed milk. A dense and decadent treat, to be sure.

Top of the Monk is the perfect place for a grown up adventure if your goal is a perfectly made drink is a low key, old school environment. Their posted “house rules” include no “hollering” or other loud behavior, and if you’re part of a bachelorette party, you’ll need to part with your party props at the door.

However, we were happy to follow the club rules if it meant enjoying spot on cocktails and the extra cachet of being part of the “in club.” Enjoy this spot when you need a break from the brewery scene, although beer lovers note: Top of the Monk does offer both beer and wine. It is Asheville, after all! Cheers!

Insider Tip:
Each cocktail comes with a small key; use it to access a post office box turned snack cabinet for a bite sized treat! Snacks include savory bites like spicy peanuts and an olive mix, as well brownie bites for those with a sweet tooth.