A new lounge in the South Slope has opened — tucked away like many speakeasies once were — and it’s the second location for Ginger’s Revenge, Asheville’s well-known maker of craft alcoholic ginger beers.
When Cristina Hall Ackley and husband, David Ackley, started Ginger’s Revenge in 2015, they took a unique twist, specializing in the production of alcoholic ginger beer.
They were “energized by the creativity possibilities of offering a different beverage option,” Cristina Ackley said.
The second GR location comes with NC’s decreased regulations on bar owners serving alcoholic beverages. That meant Ginger’s Revenge could get a liquor license, without having to meet the 30 percent of revenue in food sales previously in place.
The result is that draft cocktails made with spirits and Ginger’s Revenge flavorful brews can be served.
A second location
The Ackleys have wanted a second tasting room for some time, although “it was a 2023 priority,” Cristina Ackley said.
But they kept their eyes on commercial listings. When Wehrloom Honey and Meadery vacated its tasting room in the lower level of 32 Banks Ave. on the South Slope, the Ackleys jumped on the space, complete with existing taps and cold storage, making it great for the second Ginger’s Revenge location. The new 2,500 sq.-ft. space can serve around 80 people — and, importantly has 17 taps for Ginger’s Revenge year-round offerings, seasonal beverages and experimental flavors.
Nowadays, speakeasies are a nostalgic reminder of the Prohibition era. They didn’t need to be big to enjoy a great local following.
“The South Slope space lends itself to a lounge feeling, being tucked in on the ground floor,” Cristina Ackley said. “It’s really a relaxing lounge environment, out of the hustle and bustle of the South Slope.”
Enter the Ginger’s Revenge Lounge by going down the stairs between Buxton Hall Barbecue and Catawba Brewing on the Banks Avenue side or use the ground floor entrance behind Dirty Jack’s on the Buxton Avenue side.
“The reception to the new location has been good,” Cristina said. “We’re getting foot traffic from South Slope visitors, which we don’t have (foot traffic) at the Riverside Drive location.”
The Lounge, with its 17 taps (double the number at the Riverside taproom), offers exclusives, too, such as the current Raspberry Lemonade ginger beer flavor.
“It also give us more taps to showcase the non-alcoholic products,” Cristina said.
With the opening of South Slope neighbor Green Man Eats, guests at Ginger Revenge’s Lounge can order food to be delivered from the Green Man ghost kitchen, just a few steps away.
The flagship Ginger’s Revenge brews each have a well-thought-out profile as a member of the Ginger’s Revenge “band;” read the creative profiles in the Meet the Band section of the GR website.
The motif of the Lounge is a development of Lime Agave guitarist in the GR “band” of characters, who, as described in the character profile “breathes melodies and dreams in rhythm and blues.” The Lime Agave profile accounts for the teal walls, album covers on the wall (from Cristina’s father’s collection) and musical instruments in the décor.
Continuing the band imagery, Tammy Clayton, tasting room manager of both GR locations, felt the new location is figuratively “where the bands hang out,” and the Riverside location is “where the bands play.”
The brewery innovates with refreshingly crisp flavors, including the ever-popular Lime Agave and complex profiles of seasonals such as Cucumber Lime Basil Peppermint, Black Cherry Thai Chili and Kenyan Blue Basil.
Ginger’s Revenge has promoted mixing its brews into cocktails for some time, with recipes posted on social media under the ‘Mixology at Home’ banner.
Andie Whigham, team member and marketing and events coordinator, spearheaded the project.
“When we started the Mixology at Home social media series, the goal was two-fold: to showcase our ginger beer in fun and creative ways, and also to enhance the product with accessible ingredients,” Whigham said. “I enlisted the creative mind of my bartender husband, Kellen, and together we created our own twists on classic cocktails to share with fans of Ginger’s Revenge. Since then, we’ve gotten such great feedback about the cocktails that when the opportunity arose to open a second location, draft ginger beer cocktails fit perfectly into place.”
The Lounge plans to serve draft cocktails this fall, starting with a GR Cranberry Herb Margarita and a GR Fall Harvest Old Fashioned. The possibilities go on with the seasonal offerings of GR’s brews, such as a gimlet made with GR Thai Basil.
By the way, Ginger’s Revenge Cranberry Herb ginger beer is a finalist for the 2022 Our State magazine’s Made in NC Awards.
David Ackley began a beer blog in 2012, sharpening his skills as a home brewer. He found difficulty in sourcing good malt, hops and yeast, so he experimented with ‘ginger beer.’
The Ackleys, both Vanderbilt graduates, started Ginger’s Revenge in 2015, after David’s homebrewing years and Cristina’s work with nonprofit fundraising and event planning and in the restaurant industry.
Ginger’s Revenge, Cristina said, was founded to produce “exciting and creative craft beverages from sustainably sourced ingredients.”
Many may or may not know that ginger beer is not a beer at all — it’s fermented. The process substitutes cane sugar for malt as the fermentable ingredient.
“The brewery industry is creative and collaborative, and with the growth of the gluten-free market and beer alternative category, we felt like it was the right time to start a brewery focusing on alcoholic ginger beer,” Cristina Ackley said.
The Ginger’s Revenge branding graphic of a drummer with flowing ginger-colored hair is a nod to the legendary drummer Ginger Baker, of the classic rock band Cream.
“But it’s a strong female drummer depicted, with musical abilities pushed to the edge,” Cristina Ackley said.
The Ackleys opened the Ginger’s Revenge tasting room March 2017 on the north end of Asheville’s River Arts District — and the Lounge on the South Slope last month.
As Ginger’s Revenge president, Cristina Ackley wears many hats, including overall branding and strategy development. Soon she will take on another important role — this as mother of a newborn, later this fall.
“We’ve been building our business ‘baby’ for the last seven years,” Cristina Ackley said. “Now it’s exciting to be having a human baby.”
Get the taste buds ready for the next few months of Ginger’s Revenge releases, including Pear Rosemary in October, Caramelized Fig & Vanilla in November and Chocolate & Orange Peel come winter.
The Asheville Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at Ginger’s Revenge Lounge Sept. 28. GR is planning its grand opening for the Lounge from 2–9 p.m. Oct. 1.
Ginger’s Revenge maintains its original tasting room at 829 Riverside Drive, where it has expanded production and warehouse space. The Ginger’s Revenge Lounge is at 32 Banks Ave., on Asheville’s South Slope. Visit www.gingersrevenge.com.
From Ginger’s Revenge Mixology
Fall Harvest Old Fashioned:
2 oz. Bourbon
3 — 4 dashes Bitters
Teaspoon Brown Sugar
GR Fall Harvest Ginger Beer
Add brown sugar, bourbon, and bitters to a Boston shaker. Muddle until sugar starts to melt. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with an extra-large ice cube, top with Fall Harvest ginger beer. Garnish with orange and enjoy.
Thai Basil Gin Gimlet
1oz. Lime Juice
Ginger’s Revenge: Thai Basil
In a Boston shaker filled with ice, add gin, lime juice and a couple pieces of basil. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass and top with Thai Basil ginger beer. Add a lime wheel and basil leaf as garnish and enjoy.