In Your Cocktail: Fern Bar


Fern Bar Margarita. Photo by Jack Hatzfeld

Fern Bar took so long to go from an idea inside of Bryan Arri’s head to a pandemic pop-up to brick-and-mortar that the bar itself almost feels like a mirage now that it is finally open for business on the corner of Southwest Boulevard and Broadway Boulevard in the former Broadway Bank building.

The talented Kansas City bartender, whose resume includes stints at Manifesto, Rye, and The Monarch Bar, has—with help from KEM Studio, a local architecture and design firm—brought this Latin fever-dream bar to life. Specializing in sugarcane- and agave-focused craft cocktails, Fern Bar truly feels like you have stepped inside a cool, refreshing oasis in the Kansas City Crossroads. 

Creamy white walls flow down to natural wood trim that wraps around built-in banquettes plumped with deep-green cushions matching the flora and fauna theme. White marble café tables and small stools follow the curve of the banquettes. Terracotta-hued pots planted with a bevy of green tropical plants of all shapes and sizes sit on the shelf behind each banquette, picking up the colors of the original tile and terrazzo floors, which remain beautifully intact. The bar itself is a study in curves, with a low-lit back bar highlighting as yet undiscovered bottles of tequila, mezcal, and rum. A pop of peach paint at the back of the bar is where guests will find the Tacos Valentina folks, slinging their fresh, authentic selection of tacos nightly. 

While there are no ferns in sight at Fern Bar, there are plenty of attractive people drinking, eating, and socializing—the original intent behind the “fern bar’ phenomena of the 1960s through ’80s. The goal then was to offer drinks stiff enough to attract the men, served in a place that felt safe enough for single women to come eat, drink, and mingle after work. 

Yet Arri’s Fern Bar has taken those brass rail, bell ringing, and fern planter roots and morphed them into an intriguing menu of Latin-inspired cocktails that are both delicious and a discovery. Because he believes in the importance of supporting small artisanal producers making handcrafted rum, tequila, and mezcal made with a sense of pride and place, Arri is doing the work at each table explaining to guests what’s in their glass and sometimes even offering a small splash of a spirit solo while he charmingly delivers a mini master class in why he is pouring it at his bar. 

From the Paloma, Ranch Water, or mezcal negroni on the agave side of the menu to the tiki-inspired Planter’s Punch and the Corn & Oil, which uses both R.L. Seale 12-year-old Barbados rum and Real McCoy 5-year-old rum, these drinks are simple to make and use quality ingredients with delicious results. Of all the drinks on his menu, Arri might be most proud of the Fern Bar margarita.  

“The Fern Bar margarita features two different tequilas, both additive-free agave distillates from Libélula Joven and Tapatio Blanco. We add viscosity with an agave gomme syrup, and citrus flavor with dry curaçao and lime,” explains Arri. “It is just a traditional margarita build, but when you use products produced with integrity and care, you get something special.” We couldn’t agree more.

Fern Bar Margarita

  • 1.5 ounces Libélula Joven tequila 
  • .5 ounce Tapatio Blanco tequila
  • .25 dry curaçao
  • .5 agave gomme syrup*
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Small pinch of salt 
  • Charred lime wedge for garnish

Combine all ingredients above in a shaker tin, add ice, and shake between 8 to14 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a salt-rimmed rocks glass, and garnish with a charred lime. You can vary the flavor of the cocktail by swapping in different, 100-percent agave tequilas, as well as the dry curaçao.

*Agave Gomme Syrup: Agave gomme (the French word for gum) syrup adds a silky texture to drinks and softens the alcohol’s flavor. It is made by combining 200 grams made up of 3 parts agave syrup with 1 part water along with 24 grams of gum arabic powder. Blend it in a Vitamix until a smooth consistency has been achieved. For simplicity, you can also use a recipe of 3 parts light agave nectar to 1 part water and blend to make your syrup.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed