The Waterbird Coffee and Cocktails was designed to be a neighborhood gathering place, and it has achieved this goal nicely. Comfortable surroundings, welcoming staff and drinks you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere combine to create a darn-near perfect atmosphere.
The furniture isn’t permanently fixed in place, making The Waterbird malleable and able to accommodate various types of groups and events. Don’t be surprised to find a bunch of professional associates brainstorming over small plates and sitting next to a pair leisurely chatting over coffee. Add in a table of out-of-town visitors who popped in to try a house-made “shrub,” and you’ve got a fairly accurate picture of The Waterbird’s clientele.
Remember The Waterbird is located on Charlotte Street in North Asheville. It’s not downtown where most tourists flock, but it’s certainly worth the short drive to the eclectic neighborhood. Housed in a renovated video rental store, The Waterbird has been transformed into a fresh, modern space, complete with beautiful glass tile work, glossy enamel chairs, boldly patterned wallpaper and macrame planters.
The Waterbird opens at 8 a.m., serving up more than just a plain cup o’ Joe. The menu includes straightforward coffees, lattes and teas along with magical specialty drinks that combine unique flavors for a one-of-a-kind beverage experience. The Waterbird’s Aztec Mocha mixes cinnamon, chocolate ganache, sea salt and cayenne pepper. Non-coffee drinkers will enjoy the selection of “elixirs” such as hand-pressed grapefruit and lime juices mixed with ginger for a little kick. Light breakfast fare includes sandwiches, pastries, quinoa, frittatas along with gluten-free options from local bakeries.
Lunch starts at 11 a.m. and includes sandwiches, salads and burgers, plus a wide variety of small plates to share over a drink. Dinner goes from 5 to 11 p.m. and includes more substantial entrees than those at lunch. Fried chicken, entree salads and pork tenderloin medallions with spiced apple sauce are among offerings. Vegetarians will appreciate the variety on both menus.
Handcrafted cocktails are where The Waterbird really shines. The bartenders are friendly and helpful, and that’s important here. Unless you’re a cocktail connoisseur, you probably won’t recognize some ingredients featured in their drinks. We certainly didn’t. Another tip: The Waterbird is a place to step out of your comfort zone. If you’re not sure what the drink is all about, just ask. The bartender will happily translate for you. (Trust us, we had no idea that fernet was an Italian aromatic spirit, but it certainly tasted good in the “Drastic Measures” libation.)
A few of our favorites at The Waterbird included:
Concocted from uber-local ingredients, this play on the classic negroni is as refreshing as it is unique. It uses a local amaro flora that’s made from aromatic herbs found in the Western North Carolina mountains. The flavor is bitter, herbaceous and something you simply won’t find outside of Asheville.
The Pink Flamingo
Sandwiches make up a good portion of The Waterbird’s menu, but they aren’t simply slapped together with two pieces of bread. They’re masterful works of art, and the Pink Flamingo is the perfect choice. The seafood salad is made using Creole boiled shrimp, dill pickle aioli and stuffed into a buttery croissant along with local arugula. Get the kale slaw as the side dish.
Along with alcoholic drinks and coffees, The Waterbird offers non-alcoholic beverages. The London Fog is a great choice. It combines Earl Grey tea syrup with steamed half-and-half, orange oil and nutmeg. You’ll think you’ve been transported to jolly old London Town!
– The Waterbird hosts a jazz brunch on Sundays and a farmer’s market in its parking lot on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Local vendors sell bakery items, produce and folks in the neighborhood catch up on the week’s events.