The dream team is coming together at Cleaver & Cork. Chef Alex Pope’s new restaurant is preparing to open its doors at the end of the month in the Power & Light District – with bartender Andrew Olsen helming the drinks program.
Olsen has been working behind the bar at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, one of the city's most prestigious cocktail bars. It's owned by local mixologist and J. Rieger & Co. whiskey-maker Ryan Maybee, who also owns Manifesto, the speakeasy downstairs.
While Olsen is a familiar face to many Kansas City cocktail lovers, this will be Olsen's first time running the bar program. He says he's prepared for the task.
“Operationally, I have learned so much about running a smooth and prepared bar program from my time at the Rieger,” says Olsen.
Running a successful bar entails the preparation of a Boy Scout, says Olsen: “Pre-measuring and batching cocktails so there is consistency in every drink. Delivering them with speed and accuracy is the key.”
He knows the guests he'll serve at Cleaver & Cork are just as likely to order a Bud Light as a Horsefeather, the craft cocktail he designed using Kansas City whiskey, ginger beer and angostura bitters, which will be on tap at the bar. He is fine with that.
“I know I am going to have guests that just want a cold beer on a hot day on our patio, and I know I am going to have guests that will come in wanting to try our signature craft cocktail, and I am okay with all of that,” Olsen says. “I just want people to come in and enjoy themselves.
“If I can introduce that beer drinker to a new cocktail that he or she enjoys, then I will have done my job.”
He is working on a drink right now for the Cleaver & Cork menu using Tequila Ocho Reposado, a top-drawer tequila aged for eight weeks and eight days. Olsen says, “It is a brand that many of us are playing with right now in Kansas City.”
The cocktail menu he is developing for Cleaver & Cork is definitely whiskey-focused at the moment, but he acknowledges that he will also have some delicious fruit-forward “pounders” for patio drinking.
“The weather is going to be nice soon, and we’ll be open and ready to serve them as Cleaver & Cork is going to have some of the best seats in the house,” says Olsen.
Cleaver & Cork
1333 Walnut Street
Power & Light District
Kansas City, Missouri