Behind the Bar with Asheton Mercer

Published Fri, Aug 17, 2012 01:55 PM
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Asheton Mercer from ORO Restaurant & Lounge. Photo by Peter Musser

Born and bred at the beach, the crafty cocktailian came of age thinking she'd never leave Wilmington. But after migrating to Raleigh to hit the books at N.C. State eight years ago, she decided to set her anchor inland, at least for now. "I decided to move to Raleigh, and, I have to say, if I had to pick anywhere else to call home, Raleigh was the right place!" she says. "... I'm an N.C. State girl all the way, baby!"

Landing behind the bar as soon as she was legal, the now-26-year-old mixtress' most recent stint was at Fleming's: "[That's] where I learned most of my wine knowledge," she says. "I started bartending because the money was decent, and I love interacting with people. Now I just can't get away from it ... it's just too much fun!"

Now, you can find her shakin' up the scene at downtown Raleigh's sleek, white-washed new small plates nip (and sip) spot, ORO -- resto mainstays Chris and Cara Hylton's (of, most recently, Mint fame) newest global bites brainchild, inspired by their travels.

A lucky land, indeed, when she's not taking a world tour via ORO's fine fare (or Flying Saucer's sudsy sips), the seafaring saucetress still goes coastal on every possible occasion. "When I'm not at the beach I'm probably downtown at ORO having apps and wine or at The Flying Saucer drinking good beer and working on my plate (only 10 beers to go)!" she says. "I grew up on boats, so, naturally, in my spare time, I love nothing more than being on the water or with my family-- or both! I'm ALL about my family and my dogs!"


Hometown: Wilmington, N.C.

New to the scene in, what does ORO bring to downtown's ever-evolving bar scene? A comfortable and casual setting with a cosmopolitan feel.

There's a mezzanine with a 9-foot fireplace. Hot? Yes, [it] most certainly is. Very Hot!!! Where else can you dine in Raleigh surrounded by windows with views of downtown next to a 9-foot fireplace?

ORO in three words: Fun. Chic. Casual.

ORO is a stage for sharing fine fare ... dare we use the word 'tapas?' ORO is definitely a stage for sharing fine fare! Personally I think the term 'small plates' suits ORO a little better. We offer a variety of small plates and signature dishes with options to please all types of cravings. The owners, Chris and Cara Hylton, wanted to offer these small plates in order to allow people to enjoy a little bit of everything. Looking for a vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free dish? No problem. Our menu caters to everyone.

We're at the bar. Which cocktail should we choose to please our palate? We offer a cocktail sampler for those who want to sample three at a time. My personal favorite is the Pleasure & 'Pagne, but it is a very sneaky little cocktail!

We hear you have low-cal cocktails for us? Yes, the very popular and refreshing Skinny Cucumber is made with fresh cucumbers, mint, lime, ginger and Voli Lyte vodka. Perfect for a hot summer day! And it's only 80 calories!

What you love about the Raleigh bar scene: The variety of bars Raleigh has to offer. Whether I'm in the mood for good wine, tequila, a fancy cocktail or a great beer, Raleigh has it. And Raleigh is always growing and changing; there's always a new place to check out!

The "gospel," according to Asheton: Life's too short to drink cheap wine!

On your DVR? "Dexter," "Revenge" and "Archer."

Your app addiction: Instagram!!

Arm Candy? I like to be the arm candy (laughs).

Your go-to drink/hang spot (other than ORO): The Flying Saucer, London Bridge Pub and The Black Flower.

Never leave home without: It's sad, but my phone and charger (laughs).

Attached? No ma'am!

To kick it, you... On my days off I'm either hanging out downtown with friends -- usually stopping in at ORO -- or I head home to Wilmington for some R&R.

If you're out to eat, we'll find you grubbing at: Sushi O!! And ORO, of course.

Best part about being behind the bar? Meeting a ton of new people, and, of course, overhearing all the interesting and sometimes bizarre conversations that people have -- especially after the alcohol has kicked in.

The advice you wish you could give thirsty patrons: Don't ask for a "strong" drink; ask for a double!

Other sip spots in the Triangle you've worked: Fleming's Steakhouse.

ORO Restaurant & Lounge

18 E. Martin Street

Raleigh, NC, 27601

Phone: 919.239.4010



Asheton says come to ORO because...

"The food is great; the wine is abundant; and our staff is extremely friendly. Dare I forget to mention our unique wine carousel and sleek Enomatic wine tap system?"

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