I'd heard about the Sky Club, located on balconies jutting off floors 6, 7 and 8 of downtown Asheville's Flat Iron Building, for some time. This winter, the rumors led me on an unsuccessful quest through the building's labyrinthine guts to find the place.
Turns out my timing was off, but this seasonal establishment is open again now, and while its definitely very real, to get there I still had to run a (mild) gauntlet involving a laconic security guard, a chatty elevator operator and 1920s-era hallways. But the trip was worth it.
The west-facing view is stunning, especially at sunset. While the decor is bare-bones (you've got your tables and you've got your chairs, need anything else?), you get to take in the mountains and parts of downtown from a unique vantage.
It's a service bar, so if you're aiming for a central locale to crowd around and chat with strangers or the bartender, this isn't your spot. The Sky Club is more the environment for quiet dates, post-work relaxation, meeting old comrades, or a special event (when I went, one floor was off-limits for the latter reason).
That mix is exactly what I saw on a recent visit, as a table with two or three chatting friends soon had two or three more; then they were all grinning in front of the balcony, asking passersby to snap their photo.
At first, the lack of an actual bar made me concerned, but the staff's skill put my worries to rest. Lacking the brandy required for a Sidecar, the bartender ("Willow, bar goddess," went the introduction), came out and, after a few questions, emerged with a delicious concoction involving Maker's Mark, Gran Marnier and mulled orange.
Similar ingenuity was bought to even that old standby, the Cosmopolitan, which had Chambord, champagne and mulled lime thrown into the mix -- a vast improvement over the standard recipe. Sky Club's mixed drinks run from $6 to $10 -- neither cheap nor budget-breaking.
There was, refreshingly, no music -- no sounds except conversation, the occasional creak of the metal balcony, and Asheville in the early evening making its way out of another day.
The Sky Club can be accessed via 18 Battery Park Ave., and is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. Call 258-1058.