One day, Brenda Coates hopes to distill her own liquor, but in the meantime, she’s serving up dozens of types of brandy from around the world at The Brandy Bar in Hendersonville. With a membership fee of just $1 for five years, this private club is hard to turn down.
Brandy is a spirit that’s been distilled from wine or another fermented fruit juice. Although it’s the original alcoholic drink of the colonies, this is the first brandy bar to be opened in North Carolina. Brandy was used early on for grains in food products and because the variety of fruits found locally could be fermented efficiently into alcohol.
At The Brandy Bar, Coates offers more than 43 types of house bottles. Vintages come from Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, France, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, Peru, and Portugal; and, in the U.S., from California, Illinois, North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, and Virginia.
After retiring as an art professor from Western Carolina University, Coates began perfecting a recipe for her very own Pear Brandy with the help of Mount Mitchell distillery in Lenoir, NC. She’s even titled her own contract distilling company: North Carolina Spirits. Interested in making specialized brandy, she experiments with a variety of locally sourced fruits for her cocktails.
“Creative cocktails have been a fun part of the process, quite frankly,” says Coates. “When I take on a project, I tend to overdo it. I’m rather the obsessive-compulsive type.”
The Brandy Bar menu lists bar snacks that customers can make into a full meal. These include cheeses from Looking Glass Creamery in Fairview, the Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery in Fairview, and Sunburst Farms in Waynesville. Also highlighted are salami boards, baguettes, trout catches, four tantalizing sausages, jams, olive and olea oils, vinegars, potato chips, and an assortment of chocolates — all locally made.
The Brandy Bar, 504 7th Ave., Hendersonville. Tuesday-Saturday, 4pm-12am. www.thebrandybar.com. 828-513-1336.