Ninety five percent of all bourbons are made in Kentucky, so opening a bar that has an extensive collection Kentucky's famous spirit makes perfect sense, especially for a team that runs two successful bars.
The same team that runs Japp’s and Neons, John Back and Jeff Brandt, teamed with Molly Wellman again and opened Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar on Saturday May 5. Located in the 600 block of Mainstrasse in Covington, OKBB has a heavy focus on American bourbon. OKBB is keeping Wellman busy while she curates between 50 and 70 types of whiskey. After the bar is up and running for a few months, Wellman hopes to build the list to 150 different bourbons and whiskeys. To compliment the many American bourbons and whiskeys, OKBB will also feature Irish and Canadian whiskeys, along with a small selection of cask-conditioned ales.
“Bourbon has such a amazing history,” Wellman says. “It takes a long time to make and it should be enjoyed. (OKBB) is a place for sitting down and understanding and enjoying this perfect drink.”
During the soft-opening and 'Friends and Family' event, representatives from both Makers Mark and Jim Beam distilleries were present. On Saturday, Yvette Simpson, Cincinnati City Council Member was present, along with members of Covinton's City Council.
"It was great to see support from both Cincinnati and Covington," Back says.
Brandt has owned the building for a while and always intended on opening a bar, but he, Back and Wellman wanted to open Japp’s first and really develop a concept before expanding to Covington.
"We really want to cross-promote and bring people from both sides of the river to the other," Back says. "The Covington neighborhood has been very supportive and talked us up."
OKBB's 800-square-foot space has an intimate 30-40 person capacity and bartenders that know the story and process of each label they serve. The interior, which reflects the rustic beauty of the bourbon trail, was designed by Back, who is also an architect. Described as a “polished bluegrass” feel, OKBB will highlight the agrarian beauty of bourbon country in a modern way.
OKBB is the trio’s first foray outside of OTR but they are working to ensure a cohesive feel between bars by using staff from their two current bars and want to make OKBB a destination bar for both bourbon connoisseurs and novices. OKBB will host bourbon tastings and meet-and-greets with distillers in an effort to immerse patrons of OKBB in a bourbon-centric experience.
“It’s about making a place where people can have an experience they remember,” Wellman says. “Those places work to make the city more exciting.”
By Evan Wallis