In taking a brisk walk on Grand Boulevard near downtown Kansas City, it would be easy to stroll right past this inconspicuous establishment. But, by engaging in a more leisurely pace, a glance up would reveal a golden key which seems to direct the way to a vast black door with flattering accents. The air of mystery and intrigue will take hold and out of pure curiosity, a step inside is forthcoming. Awaiting within is a warm, intimate cocktail bar that is overflowing with temptations: unconventional relaxed seating, progressive concoctions, saporous nibbles, a cozy book nook perfect for calming the stress of the work day, and, tucked in the back, a breezy patio suggestive of a secret garden. It is the carefully designed aesthetic SoT has crafted that exudes a certain magic, an alluring waft that ensures people will have the time of their lives.
It was the vision of owners Ron Berg and Sheri Stamper to open a cocktail bar that reflected the exciting atmosphere and unique approach of other restaurants Berg experienced in his travels throughout the U.S. Berg, an experienced Kansas City photographer in the Crossroads District, has a natural attention to detail and fashioning. He aimed for smoky sophistication and the intent was to provide elevated cocktails that perfectly complemented distinctive small plates complete with a gritty glam undercurrent.
In coining a name for the restaurant, SoT, it is perhaps a play on words as its intention is South of Truman but it coincidentally shares the meaning “habitual drunkard,” which might hint at the fact that their well-crafted beverages can easily become cravable. After careful and meticulous planning, on September 15, 2016, SoT opened complete with a very collaborative modest staff of high-quality people ready to extend an interactive dining experience to its customers.
One way SoT is unique is it promotes a collaborative effort for everyone. The seating has a feel of openness so conversation with the skilled bartender and customers is relaxed and encouraged. The drinks are reminiscent of a science experiment done wonderfully right as they are very accomplished in their abilities to take a familiar favorite and put a different, distinctive spin on it. Some of their signature drinks include the Smoky Cocktail, a rustic rum Old-Fashioned that includes a blend of Plantation Pineapple Rum, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, House Coffee Bitters, Koval Ginger, smoked banana leaves, orange peel and cinnamon; the Interactive Martini, reinvented to include Rieger Gin, Dolin Dry and a molecular Castelvetrano Olive; and the Tiki Cocktail, perfect for sips on the patio that includes Plantation Original Dark Rum, all-spice Dram, house macadamia/almond orgeat, lime, spicy ginger syrup and Peychauds Bitters. And if a cold brew is the desire, there is an expansive menu to suit those tastes as well!
“There is a reason for all the madness, all the testing, and all the tasting,” chef Mark Dandurand says. “We make it interactive so our cocktails are often seasonal and easy to switch out and we believe our food should match up with our cocktails. We think concept first, then what we want a drink or food to taste like, and we take food that looks familiar and homemade but take it a few steps beyond.”
These small plates are created to be shareable snacks designed to feed two to four people and offer a myriad of international and traditional flavors. The freshly made empanadas provide tantalizing tastes of chorizo and sweet potato, the garlic Yukon Gold potatoes extend savory satisfaction, and to bring it to a close there are also offerings of sweet treats made to put a final tickle on the taste buds.
We hope to maintain our creativity, quality, consistency and the excitement behind everything we do,” Danduarand says. “We are ever-evolving and do not want to SoT to ever feel uncomfortable or stuffy. Our hope is to push ourselves to continue to do what we started which is cocktails and snacks amped.”