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  • Writer's pictureBrian Konutko

Behind Asheville's Most Popular Cocktails: An Exclusive Glimpse into a Harmonious Collaboration

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

If you've ever strolled through Asheville, you'll know that our city thrives on the unique and unconventional. Nestled in the heart of our vibrant town, Maia Toll's Herbiary and Sovereign Remedies, creators of some of Asheville's most popular cocktails, embody this spirit, intertwined in a dance of tradition and creativity. It is in this intertwining where I find myself fortunate to contribute as a brand strategist for Sovereign Remedies. This intersection, where the scent of botanical blends meets the clinking of cocktail glasses, unravels a compelling narrative that's a joy to capture and share.

Stepping into the Herbiary is like stepping back in time, a reconnection with nature's apothecary that humankind has known for millennia. Here, I met Mary Hatley, a herbalist with a captivating passion and a wealth of knowledge about the world of herbs. Her journey with the Herbiary, which started simply as a customer, has unfolded as organically as the roots and herbs lining its shelves. She's now a pivotal presence in this botanical sanctuary, constantly expanding her knowledge and graciously sharing her wisdom with the community.


In 2014, an interesting symbiosis took root. As the doors of Sovereign Remedies and this Herbiary location opened, a silent partnership emerged. Much like two plants in a shared soil, they grew together, finding their rhythm. Sovereign Remedies, with its homage to old-timey herbal potions, found an ally in the Herbiary, resulting in healing concoctions that nurture the body while delighting the palate.

Portrait of Mary, herbalist at the Herbiary, Photography by Brian Konutko
The Role of Bitters in Sovereign Remedies' Herbal Cocktails

The partnership between the Herbiary and Sovereign Remedies blossomed naturally, breathing life into a cocktail menu that marries taste and health. Taking inspiration from the Herbiary's botanical treasure trove, Sovereign Remedies crafted libations featuring dandelion, roses, burdock, ginseng, and sarsaparilla. Each concoction, imbued with these vibrant botanicals, creates a symphony of flavors while promising the age-old health benefits associated with these herbs and roots.


In the realm of these mixtures, bitters hold a place of honor. These age-old ingredients are known for their unique taste, but as Mary explained, their function extends beyond flavor. The bittering agents, such as the one found in ginseng, serve as digestive aids, appetite stimulants, and even sugar craving curbers. Aromatics like rose petals, she revealed, could also be classified as bitters.

Venturing further into the herbal rabbit hole, Mary shared her extensive knowledge and unique insights on the familiar herb - rosemary. Though renowned for its role in mental health stimulation and circulation, and often recognized as a culinary star, rosemary, she explained, also functions as a memory-booster. We delved into other herbs like Camillus, less known but potent, capable of relieving brain fog and soothing the throat. Mary insisted that even a mere whiff of these herbs could trigger beneficial physical effects, reminding me that our interaction with nature can be profoundly subtle, yet powerfully healing.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN KONUTKO

As we navigated the Herbiary, Mary highlighted a range of local products that were as intriguing as they were beneficial. Locally-made Cardamom and Citrus Bitters, and the sweetly aromatic Dancing Sage, caught my eye, both of which you can see in the photos above.

Witnessing Mary's passion and hearing her insights heightened my appreciation for the cocktails at Sovereign Remedies. Inspired by the Herbiary's herbs, they concocted beverages like the Root Daiquiri, seasonal teas with calming rose petals, and the popular Cocktail no27, a tantalizing mix of bitters, ginseng, and ginger.

As we delve deeper, this local business collaboration represents more than just mutual support. It's an emblem of a larger ecosystem within Asheville — a community deeply committed to sustainable practices, mutual benefits, and reciprocal growth. The synergistic relationship between Sovereign Remedies, where I have the privilege of infusing my skills, and the Herbiary, represents the intricate, interconnected web that binds us. With every photograph taken, every story told, I'm not just an observer but an active participant in this narrative. It's a dance of creation and collaboration, a testament to Asheville's thriving spirit, and I am humbled to be part of this shared journey.

So, the next time you find yourself wandering through Asheville, remember – the dance of the city is in its details, ready to be discovered, one herb-infused cocktail at a time.


This article was written and published by www.konutko.com

Photography by Brian Konutko. All rights reserved. Images may not be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the photographer.

Businesses: Sovereign Remedies Herbiary Konutko Photography

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