This winter our team spent time discussing the ways to develop and show off the culture we care about, the culture around which we built our bar. What enamors us about the cocktail is its rich history, its ingredients, and its iconic characters and stories; the surprising and sometimes utterly baffling experience of layering and recombining ingredients to an almost permutative extent that feels vaguely Borgesian; the colorful variations achievable when infusing spirits and the collective debates about which is better, not unlike the Star Wars fandom to which many in our team subscribe. This is how truly nerdy we feel about what we do—seemingly a little pretentious to some but embarrassingly genuine, as is clearly the case with our H P Lovecraft-inspired menu—and we are fortunate to have friends who feel the same way about food.
These friends aren’t squirrelly amateurs either. These are friends who are skilled enough to slay in the kitchen and then sling shade over fine spirits after the fact. As we were talking about the kind of year we wanted to have at West Main Crafting Co., the kind of culture we wanted to build here, we knew we had to make the most of these enthusiastic friendships, at least on occasion. Otherwise, we’re just bar flies who fight over the most recent Marvel reveal/teaser.
Our Guest Chef series was the result, a way for us to bring what we do best—authentic cocktails—into a pairing with some incredible food in order to create opportunities and experiences generally uncommon—if not rare—in our community. The awesome Samantha Fore, Sri Lankan Deva of the Kitchen, was an obvious first choice for us, mostly because we already spent too much time talking about food and beverage for a normal friendship.
Sam’s restaurant, Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites, is mostly a pop-up restaurant with plans for a build out this year. Not only was this an opportunity to work with a friend, but how often does one encounter Sri Lankan cuisine? For most of us, rarely. How much more rare, then, would it be to offer a menu pairing Sri Lankan flavors with cocktails? When do you have the chance to enjoy meatball and sweet potato curry with tempered beets while also enjoying a barrel-aged Negroni in a custom made Campari glass? or share the shock and discovery when those flavors come up against each other with friends and strangers going through similar feelings?
More than a fun gig for us to put together, we’ve been able to create an experience wholly unique and fascinating, and fun, that brings people together to share in the culture of cocktails and food. Even outside of our industry, bringing people together to share culture at all is an exciting thing. To do it over drinks in our intimate bar is even better.
We look forward to the rest of the year, as a conspicuous crop of pairing and guest chef events pop up at restaurants around us and as our community in Kentucky is embracing this incredible format. We’re also super excited about our future collaborations exploring unique formats to combine cocktails with movies, cuisine, and special in-house parties. We don’t want to give up the goose, but there are special opportunities that only come with being in Kentucky, so stay tuned for all kinds of things in the near and distant future where you can partake in the rich history of the cocktail and experience drinking in fun ways.