Early on, when we were first discussing the idea of West Main and everything we wanted it to be, we came up with the tagline “Drink Better.” For us, this phrase succinctly summed up our dream of building a truly world class cocktail program right here in the heart of bourbon country – a place where every detail matters and authentically exceptional cocktails are served in an approachable way.
What we realized when talking about our new project with potential patrons, though, was that the phrase “Drink Better” by itself didn’t do an adequate job of explaining the passion and care that we put into our craft. A lot of the people we talked to had the impression that “craft cocktail” places were just more pretentious versions of the same old bars where hipster bartenders served slightly different but still uninspired versions of the same drinks at inflated prices. Our challenge, then, was figuring out how to differentiate ourselves as authentic.
When sitting one on one with a bartender, we found guests receptive to our story and open to letting us guide them to just the right cocktail. This works beautifully well on a slow Sunday night, for example, when the bar is not very full. Indeed, Sunday night is one of our favorite times to work for exactly this reason. When we are busier, though, or when a guest prefers the obviously more comfortable 14-foot velvet chesterfield in the lounge to the wooden stools at the bar, it becomes much harder to have this relationship with the bartender.
The solution, we decided, was to make our cocktail menus as approachable and informative as we possibly could – with all the information our bartenders would want to share. In book form, for guests to browse at their leisure, our menu gives us the space to fully explain each of our creations. Each cocktail is presented with a full-page photograph of its exact presentation, tasting notes, ingredients, and a narrative explaining its history or inspiration. In the back, a glossary defines terms that may be unfamiliar. Nothing ever can – or should – replace the one on one interaction with a good bartender, but we believe this comes close.