Bryan Arri has been working in KC’s craft cocktail scene for the past six years in notable bars like the Rieger’s Manifesto, The Monarch Cocktail Bar and Lounge, Corvino Supper Club and more. In 2019, he won The Pitch’s Best Bartender in Kansas City.
Three years ago, he created the cocktail pop-up concept, Fern Bar, and now, he’s turning it into an official drinking establishment in the Crossroads (2045 Broadway, KCMO).
Fern Bar, expected to open in August, will primarily focus on sugarcane and agave spirit-based cocktails. The small space will be decked out in earth tones and natural materials. Full grown agave, cacti and sugarcane plants will provide “physical examples of where [the] spirits come from.”
Arri’s choice to focus on agave and sugarcane spirits is intentional. “With agave spirits, not only do you get a wonderful, delicious spirit, you also get a sense of terroir, a sense of place and time of when a spirit was made. Also, you get these wonderful stories of the people who are producing it,” Arri says.
Agave spirits have been rising in popularity and in the next few years are expected to surpass vodka sales.
Working with small independent spirit producers, who implement best practices, is of utmost importance for the bartender-turned-owner. Due to rum being historically produced through slave labor, Arri is especially purposeful with his rum producers.
“Part of it is being comfortable talking about the fact that, yeah, we’re enjoying some of these wonderful products, but they come from second and third world countries where people can get taken advantage of,” Arri says. “So that’s why we support the producers that we do.”
Customers can expect stellar daiquiris and margaritas along with more creative drinks. For example, The Grass is Greener cocktail is a watermelon basil margarita with salted watermelon basil syrup, tequila, and lime super juice which previously sold out at every one of his pop-ups.
Despite the cocktail bar’s modern atmosphere, Arri says he wants his bar to be “inclusive for everyone.” “There are a lot of cocktail programs across the U.S. and in Kansas City that are run like a boys club,” Arri says. “We’re trying to make Fern Bar a casual cocktail bar. Come in in your street clothes and have a great drink.”
During the week, Fern Bar will be a low-key environment. On the weekends, Arri plans to have a DJ and a much more energetic atmosphere.