The Food Issue

Myers Hotel Bar creates craft cocktails with zero pretension

Kate and Jesse Brubacher are bringing the art of craft cocktails to Tonganoxie at their Myers Hotel Bar.
Kate and Jesse Brubacher are bringing the art of craft cocktails to Tonganoxie at their Myers Hotel Bar.

Anyone who thinks good cocktails are a big-city thing hasn’t been to the Myers Hotel Bar in Tonganoxie, Kan.

Lemons and limes are artfully scattered along the bar. Classic and original drinks incorporate all manner of juices, shrubs, bitters, liqueurs and spirits. And locals fill the bar’s mismatched seats.

“We’ve been blown away,” says Kate Brubacher, who managed John Brown’s Underground in Lawrence before opening the bar with her husband, Jesse Brubacher. “The community has been wonderful.”

The Brubachers are open only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. In between they’re restoring the 137-year-old hotel room by room to add touches like the framed sampler quilt hand-stitched by Kate’s grandmother. Aries, a stuffed ram’s head that her uncle bought at an auction in New Orleans, overlooks the bar.

Brubacher’s menu is just as personal. She talks easily about the flavors that inspire her and strives to “transcend the paradigm of bad drinking” with cocktails like the Sweet Earth, which combines fresh beet juice, gin and passion fruit juice, and the Thai Julep, an invigorating turn on a bourbon classic with tamarind syrup, lime juice and a chili-sugar-dried shrimp rim.

Balance is essential — maple water knits her Cherrywood’s bourbon, mezcal and sherry into a delicious whole — as are supporting producers, such as Craft Distillers and Suerte Tequila, that she thinks care as much about the people affected by their products as she does.

For all that, though, there’s zero pretension at the Myers Hotel Bar. It serves craft and mainstream beers, wine and RC Cola (Brubacher’s childhood favorite). Art’s & Mary’s potato chips are the only food offering, but she doesn’t mind when guests have pizza delivered to the bar.

It’s all about nurturing people and making them feel welcome, Brubacher says.

“I get to be part of someone’s special experience,” she says. “I want to do everything I can to help them have a great time.”

▪ The Myers Hotel Bar, 220 S. Main St., Tonganoxie, Kan., 785-840-6764,